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image description

Level of Significance

  • File
  • Local
  • Regional
  • State
  • National

Age (approx)






Height - 20m


Common name
Port Jackson fig
Botanical name
Ficus rubiginosa
Individual Tree
Melbourne (VIC)
124 La Trobe Street Melbourne VIC 3000
  • Unusual (Aesthetic)
Date of measurement
14 Nov 2014
Date of classification
12 Apr 2021

Statement of Significance

This Port Jackson Fig grows on the stone wall of the Old Melbourne Gaol, between the Gaol and Emily McPherson College (RMIT).

It is significant at a Regional level for its unusual form. It is the only example known in Melbourne of a fig growing atop a wall with aerial roots anchoring it in place.


Old Melbourne Gaol was decommissioned in 1929, but did reopen briefly during the Second World War as a military prison for Australian soldiers who were Absent Without Leave (AWOL). Later, the complex was used as a storage depot for the Victorian Police force. In 1972 the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) began management of the Old Melbourne Gaol as an educational tourist attraction.

It is not possible to see the tree on a 1945 aerial image of Melbourne, but a 1997 plaque next to the tree states that it is between 50 - 70 years old. The tree is visible as a mature specimen in photos taken in 1987.


Excerpts from a report by Peter Elliot Architecture & Urban Design for RMIT University in August 2014:
"The Fig Tree Courtyard is a remnant of the Old Melbourne Gaol and is enclosed by bluestone walls of which the west wall is straddled by a magnificent Port Jackson fig tree. It is a heavily shaded space as a result of its enclosed nature and the large evergreen fig tree canopy overhead. It is a place for quiet retreat and small social gatherings.

Historically this was part of a larger yard modified in the 1930s with the demolition of the western half of the Old Melbourne Gaol and its incorporation in to RMIT."