Melbourne is often referred to as Australia’s garden city, and the state of Victoria was once known as the garden state. There is an abundance of parks and gardens in Melbourne, many close to the CBD with a variety of common and rare plant species amid landscaped vistas, pedestrian pathways and tree-lined avenues.
North of the city centre, the majestic Royal Exhibition Building is surrounded by Carlton Gardens. Originally designed for the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880, the Exhibition buildings and the surrounding Carlton Gardens are now World Heritage listed.
Carlton Gardens is a popular picnic and barbecue area, and is home to an array of wildlife, including brushtail possums. The wraps around the trees in the picture below are to prevent possums from destroying the foliage. Dramatic tree-lined avenues, a majestic fountain, formal flowerbeds and miniature lakes are features of these late nineteenth century Gardens.
Valued for their historic, aesthetic, architectural and horticultural significance, the Fitzroy Gardens were classified by the National Trust in 1974 and placed on the Victorian Heritage Register in 1999. Originally set aside as a reserve in 1848, the gardens derived their name from Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy, Governor of New South Wales (1846 – 1851) and Governor-General of the Australian Colonies (1851 – 1855).
Another feature of the gardens is the Conservatory (1930), housing magnificent indoor floral displays that are changed five times each year.
In the gardens sits Cooks’ Cottage, presented to the people of Victoria as a gift for the State’s centenary in 1934. The cottage, home of Captain James Cook’s parents, was transported from the Yorkshire village where Cook, one of the first Europeans to chart Australia’s east coast, was born. Its furnishings and restoration are appropriate to the time in which they lived in the dwelling.
The picturesque setting of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne extends over 36 hectares and displays more than 50,000 plants. Diverse plant collections, year-round events, unique tours, and a reputation as one of the world’s finest gardens has made the Royal Botanic Gardens one of Melbourne’s most popular tourist attractions.
We spotted this very interesting tree with spikes on its trunk and branches, with beautiful pinkish flowers. I later found out that it is a Silk Floss Tree (Ceiba Speciosa). Native to the subtropical forests of South America, the Silk Floss Tree is appreciated for its beautiful flowers. But getting to those precious flowers is definitely not the easiest of tasks, due to the giant thorns that cover its trunk and branches.
Two loving black swans forming a heart.
After a whole lot of walking, we decided to join the Purple Swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio) at the Cafe to relax, enjoy the greenery around us, and have some healthy fruit yogurt. The diet of the Purple Swamphen includes the soft shoots of reeds and rushes and small animals, such as frogs and snails. But obviously, these few prefer coffee and confectioneries.
The Melbourne Aquarium building was designed to resemble a ship moored to the river. The depth of the building however was designed not to be imposing at street level, and extends 7 metres below the surface. At its centre is a world first, 2.2 million litre ‘oceanarium in the round’ where the spectators become the spectacle to the marine life swimming around them.
It is a Southern Ocean and Antarctic aquarium and is dedicated to sustaining the environment. As an attraction that is devoted solely to the marine environment, it demonstrates environmentally sound practice in every area of its operation.
There was the usual fair of fish, jellies, octopi, sharks and rays. The colourful and vibrant Weird & Wonderful exhibits allows you to experience some of the strangest marine animals in the world and these creatures will certainly challenge how you believe a fish should behave and what it should look like.
What stole the show for us was the Antarctica exhibit – one of the four worlds at Melbourne Aquarium. We marveled as the majestic King and cheeky Gentoo penguins play in the pool and waddled on the snow-covered ice.
Gentoo penguins are curious and outgoing characters with a seemingly endless supply of energy. These cute and cheeky penguins are also the fastest underwater swimming bird in the world. There was this one penguin that kept taking pebbles from other nest to put into his – it was hilarious!
With their vibrant plumage, impressive stature and majestic nature, King penguins are mesmerising animals to watch. They have inclusive social behaviour among their close-knit group and they are dedicated parents to their young.
The Old Melbourne Gaol is an iconic landmark site where 135 people, including infamous bushranger Ned Kelly, were hanged. The prison was also a focus during some of Australia’s most significant historical moments, including the Gold Rush and World War II.
The Watch House Experience is a forty minute interactive experience like no other. With a Charge Sergeant as guide, we were ”arrested” and encountered what it is like to be locked up. We got screamed at, man-handled, and thrown into a pitch black cell. At the end of the experience, the Charge Sergeant revealed her real identity as an actress and finally broke into a smile.
This post is one of an 11 part entry of our trip to Victoria, Australia.
See all the places we visited on this trip below:
- Dandenongs – Sherbrooke, Puffing Billy, Sassafras
- Geelong – Wool, Waterfronts, Bollards
- Great Ocean Road – Gibson Steps to Bay of Islands
- Great Ocean Road – Lorne, Apollo Bay, Cape Otway Lightstation
- Melbourne – Gardens, Aquarium, Gaol
- Melbourne – MCG, Yarra River, Southbank, St Kilda
- Melbourne – QVM, City Sights and Streets
- Mornington Peninsula – Dolphins, Mazes, Vinyards
- Phillip Island – Chocs, Koalas, Penguins, Nobbies
- Phillip Island – Churchill Island
- Yarra Valley – Healesville Sanctuary, Wine, Cheese