Carlton Gardens Tennis Club Melbourne Australia

Set in a beautiful historic park that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Carlton Gardens Tennis Club has four LED-floodlit artificial-grass courts under huge elm and oak trees. The heritage clubhouse has been fully renovated and has change rooms, a kitchen and a BBQ area.

The courts are open to the public through a book-a-court system which unlocks the gates and turns on the lights automatically if needed when a PIN is entered.

One of Melbourne’s oldest tennis clubs with a rich history

Club member Tom Keel tells us “It used to be called the Italian Tennis Club. This area is where all the Italian migrants came and settled after the war. For a long time you had to be Italian to play here. And then about 30 years ago they decided to move out to the suburbs for bigger housing and the place was left empty. A couple of the locals came in and reinvigorated it. “

Carlton Gardens is located near the center of Melbourne in a historic park

The club is situated in the Royal Carlton Gardens within walking distance of Melbourne’s Central Business District. Carlton Gardens and The Royal Exhibition Building are designated as a World Heritage Site and when you visit you will understand why. The grandeur of the gardens and the architecture of the exhibition hall are evident.

Carlton Gardens is one of only two World Heritage Sites in Australia

The other one is the Sydney Opera House. The reason for the designation the club tells us is “there is an old building from 1880 which is the last remaining exhibition house of its type in the world. Back when trade was really kicking along, Melbourne was the richest city in the world because of their gold rush, similar to the timing of the California Gold Rush. With all the influx of money they built the Royal Exhibition Hall which at the time covered the whole park. It was enormous and they had a million visitors from around the world. “

The Gardens are Magnificent

The gardens are laid out to be observed from the top of the dome, which is based on the dome in Venice. Club members say they do find themselves a little bit limited because the world heritage stops them from changing anything in the building or their size so they stay with four courts. But they acknowledge they are very lucky because they wouldn’t allow this to be built now. The fact that it’s here and it’s protected means tennis players and others can enjoy these beautiful surroundings for many years to come.


Carlton Gardens is a tennis club with membership but it’s also open to the public

They have the book a court system so anyone with access to the internet can jump online pick a day, pick a court, pick a time pay with a credit card and just turn up. The lights come on automatically. The gate opens with a pin. So it’s open to all people. About a thousand people use the court through the book a court system.


They call their Surface Mod Grass or Fake grass

“It’s a concrete base with a rubber mat and we have this grass over it. We put some sand across it to allow a little bit of sliding as well. It’s low maintenance with all the water restrictions we had 10 years ago we were all told don’t put anything that requires water in. So we’re all green-powered as well so we can play at night without any feelings of guilt”


The Club Works Hard to Be Sustainable both Environmentally and Socially

Specifically designed coaching for disadvantaged kids on the weekend, women’s only nights where the government gives them money to encourage women to come to a safe environment. They have redone all of their park lighting to make it safe for people to walk through the park. They’ve adopted the 17 pillars of sustainability UNESCO charter so they make sure they’re the most sustainable club we can be. Part of that was sourcing all of their power from renewables. They also consider gender equality on their committee and they have free sessions. They have homeless people coming to play and provide them with all of their equipment. “

We challenged their Club to a Fun Tournament on Australia Day

We visited the Carlton Gardens Tennis Club while in Melbourne for the Australian Open. We’re from Canada and we challenged them to a Canada vs Australia tournament on January 26th which is their national holiday.They agreed and proved to be amazing hosts. After some lively doubles we awarded the title to our hosts and they fired up the ‘barbie’ as they call it to show us their Australian hospitality.


Tom says “It was nicely matched. Everyone was on their best behavior. I think the competition was fierce but friendly and as usual people come along with the right attitude to have a good time, but also a little bit of white line fever and people really do try to run down the balls. We appreciate that you flew all the way out here just to play us. By the way, while you’re here there’s an Australian Open on down here. You might like to check that out as well.”


And on a more serious note, he says “It’s fantastic the Australian Open. We notice of course a spike in attendance at this time of year.”

It’s clear for me to see now that we’re here at Carlton Gardens what passion Australians have for tennis and how that translates to great performance on courts around the world.

“We had a great day here at Carlton Gardens Lawn and Tennis Club. Had some really fun matches, met a lot of new friends and we’ll always remember the tennis club here. So when in Melbourne Australia, definitely check out the Carlton Gardens Tennis Club, and don’t forget to pack your racquet.”

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