Things to Do

Wan­der off the beaten path at Mel­bourne’s lesser-known botan­i­cal gar­dens.

Time Out (Melbourne) - - INSIDE - By Re­becca Russo

Royal Botanic Gar­dens Cran­bourne

Lit­tle-known fact: the Royal Botanic Gar­dens have an equally cool sis­ter in Mel­bourne’s south­east. The Cran­bourne di­vi­sion spe­cialises in na­tive Aus­tralian flora and spans over 350 hectares. The gar­dens are home to over 170,000 plants, in­clud­ing those re­sid­ing in the rugged Aus­tralian Gar­den, as well as a num­ber of en­dan­gered Aus­tralian an­i­mals. Cnr Bal­larto Rd & Botanic Dr, Cran­bourne 3977. 03 5990 2200. www.rbg.vic.gov.au/rbg-cran­bourne. Daily 9am-5pm. Free.

Blue Lo­tus Wa­ter Gar­den

Blue Lo­tus Wa­ter Gar­den is a sea­sonal dis­play gar­den, mean­ing it’s only open for a very short time through­out the year, of­ten be­tween late De­cem­ber and early April. A mul­ti­tude of wa­ter lilies and lo­tus flow­ers bloom over dozens of ponds and two lakes, and the gar­dens ex­tend over 50,000m2. 2628 War­bur­ton Hwy, Yarra Junction 3797. 03 5967 2061. www.bluelo­tus­farm.com.au. Daily 10am-5pm. $0-$17. Un­til Apr 15.

Al­fred Nicholas Me­mo­rial Gar­dens

The Al­fred Nicholas Me­mo­rial Gar­den is lo­cated deep within the Dan­de­nong Ranges. Take a walk through the park and see the awe­some canopy of moun­tain ash trees or take a pic­nic by the pic­turesque lake and quaint boathouse. In spring, the park is full of colour with flow­er­ing aza­leas and cherry trees, while in au­tumn the park turns golden with the chang­ing colours of the maples and beeches. Sher­brooke Rd, Dan­de­nong 3789. 03 8627 4699. park­web.vic.gov.au/ex­plore/parks/ al­fred-nicholas-me­mo­rial-gar­dens-gar­dens-ofthe-dan­de­nongs. Daily 10am-5pm. Free.

Cac­tus Coun­try

Home to the big­gest col­lec­tion of cacti in Aus­tralia, Cac­tus Coun­try has over four hectares of gar­dens show­cas­ing more than 4,000 species of sprout­ing cacti and suc­cu­lents. Wan­der through eight dif­fer­ent trails to find your favourite prickly friend. The place is crazy pho­to­genic, and you can hire out it for film or photo shoots. 4986 Murray Val­ley Hwy, Strath­mer­ton 3641. 0427 745 271. cac­tus­coun­try.com.au. Daily 9am-5pm. $0-$15.

Dan­de­nong Ranges Botanic Gar­den

This botanic gar­den was only dubbed a botanic gar­den in 2017, as it was pre­vi­ously known as the Na­tional Rhodo­den­dron Gar­den. Th­ese days you’ll find more than just rhodo­den­drons, with aza­leas, camel­lias, cher­ries and daf­fodils pro­vid­ing some de­light­ful rain­bow colour to the grounds. The gar­dens boast an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of rare and ex­otic plants too, the ma­jor­ity of which are en­dan­gered.

The Ge­or­gian Rd, Olinda 3788. 131 963. vis­it­dan­de­non­granges.com.au/ac­tiv­ity/ dan­de­nong-ranges-botanic-gar­den. Daily 10am-5pm. Free.

Fitzroy Gar­dens Con­ser­va­tory

Did you know Fitzroy Gar­dens is hid­ing a lush botanic gar­den? Lo­cated on the south­east­ern edge of the CBD, this Span­ish Mis­sion-style con­ser­va­tory was opened way back in 1930. It cur­rently ex­hibits five flo­ral dis­plays an­nu­ally, mean­ing it’s in full bloom all year round with a mix of hy­drangeas, fuch­sias, be­go­nias, cy­cla­mens and cal­ceo­lar­ias all mak­ing an

ap­pear­ance. 230-298 Welling­ton Pde, East Mel­bourne 3002. 03 9658 9658. www.fitzroy­gar­dens.com/con­ser­va­tory.htm.Daily 9am-5pm. Free.

La­van­dula Swiss Ital­ian Farm

Th­ese Euro­pean-style gar­dens are in the hills of Shep­herds Flat in north­west Vic­to­ria. La­van­dula sits on a 40-hectare prop­erty orig­i­nally op­er­ated by a Swiss-ital­ian fam­ily who came to Vic­to­ria in search of gold. To­day it boasts an in­cred­i­ble laven­der farm, veg­etable and herb gar­dens and a café. 350 Hep­burn-New­stead Rd, Shep­herds Flat 3461. 03 5476 4393. www.la­van­dula.com.au. Daily 10.30am-5.30pm. $0-$4.

Wil­liamstown Botanic Gar­dens

One of Vic­to­ria’s first pub­lic gar­dens, Wil­liamstown Botanic Gar­dens is a lush, green spot for read­ing or pic­nics. The gar­den’s main fea­tures in­clude a plethora a of ex­otic plants, an Ed­war­dian or­na­men­tal pond and a for­mal palm av­enue. Cnr Gif­fard & Os­borne Sts, Wil­liamstown 3016. 03 9932 1000. www.hob­sons­bay.vic.gov.au. Open 24 hours. Free.

Cac­tus Coun­try

Al­fred Nicholas Me­mo­rial Gar­dens

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