How to Enjoy the Ballarat Botanical Gardens

If you go to Victoria, you HAVE to take the hour and a half train from Melbourne and visit the City of Ballarat Botanical Gardens across the street from Lake Wendouree.

Rated 2 Out of 73 Places to Visit in Ballarat

Australia trip #17 Jo’s Monday Walks, Cee’s Which Way Challenge

If you go to Victoria, you HAVE to take the hour and a half train from Melbourne and visit Ballarat.  Ballarat Botanical Gardens

The hurried bustle of Melbourne changed in minutes once we left the station.

Ballarat Botanical GardensSoon the brown landscape reminded me of the Central Valley of California, where I live. Not much changed during the hour trip, and it sped by so quickly you would not have enjoyed the picture.

Ballarat or Bust

Yes, the 1850 Australian Gold Rush happened in Ballarat. We approached the golden gates at lunch time so our hostesses, Carol’s sister-in-law and niece, took us to lunch at Pipers by the Lake.

Ballarat Botanical GardensManny, my traveling bear, always says, “I’m never hungry, but I can always eat.”

Notice he liked pasta. I chose pumpkin soup. Australian pumpkin anything is fabulous, and Pipers did not disappoint. In retrospect, I probably should not have opted for the hot soup. The afternoon temperatures soared into the late nineties.

After lunch, I was ready for a nap, but these energetic, climate-time-adjusted women got Manny and me up and on our feet. Weather of almost any kind melts me, but the beauty surrounding the restaurant spurred me on.

Ballarat Botanical GardensAfter some quick photo ops on the Lily Bridge decorating Lake Wendouree, donned in my Stabilisation Shoes (spelled the Australia way, pronounced stable-I-ZA-shun), I was primed for a long walk.

I longed for air conditioning. Instead, we walked down the block a bit and along Lake Wendouree. There really are black swans, so, in spite of the heat, I began to catch their enthusiasm.

Ballarat Botanical GardensSoon we crossed the western side of the street to the City of Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Rated #2 of 73 things to do by Trip Advisor, my guides Mandy, Katie, and Carol could not have made a better choice of introduction to Ballarat for me.

It’s only a few minutes’ drive from the Central Business District of Ballarat, abbreviated as CBD, to find Pipers and the Gardens. BTW, when you visit Australia, realize that you also have to know all the acronyms and nicknames for common words.

The Gardens are divided into three zones. We spent most of our time in the central Botanical Gardens, which you will see when you scroll down. One Australian website referred to the central area as a Victorian pleasure garden.

Ballarat Botanical GardensOn either side of the park entrance, there are open parkland buffers known as the North and South Gardens. On this summer day, families and lovers lounged on the cool grass under the shade trees.

The pair of marble lions situated just inside the gates began guarding the entrance to the garden in 1893.

The Gardens celebrated its sesquicentenary (150 years old) in 2007.

The South Gardens

Practically every Australian park I toured honored their soldiers in some way. The Ballarat Gardens feature Australia’s Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial, designed by local artist Peter Blizzard. Opened in 2004, the 130-meter long granite wall has the names of 35,000 Australian Prisoners of War etched into it, 8,600 of whom died and are buried on foreign soil.

Ballarat Botanical GardensTeacher, Carol determined that I would LEARN everything about Australia during this trip. She took it easy on me right after lunch as we strolled along the moving POW memorial. I guess she hadn’t learned about all 35,000 names either.

However, when we marched down Prime Minister Lane, it was a different story. Carol told me about the first, the best, and the worst Prime Ministers.

Here are some Wiki-facts to test your memory for the quiz at the end of this post.  Prime Ministers Avenue is set within Horse Chestnut Avenue. Alfred Deakin founded the Federation of Australia Deakin and served as the first Federal Member for Ballarat and the second Prime Minister.

I tried as hard as I could to memorize all the names, faces and fun facts as she enthusiastically told me about each one. TC History Gal should be good at this, right?

Ballarat Botanical GardensThe flat pathway through the shade of beautiful trees on a quiet afternoon caused me to zone out.  I enjoyed the experience of being in a new place with hospitable people. Conversations buzzed around me like busy mosquitoes. Speaking of mosquitoes, the tiny insects may have had their way with this Prime Minister.

Ouch!

Ballarat Botanical GardensMaybe it was because their names were etched in gold, too light to read. It certainly was not the hot pumpkin soup. Needless to say, Carol may have struck out on this teaching venture. The good news is that if you want to know the Australian Prime Ministers, they are listed here.

The Center Zone

Opened in 1995, Bob Clark donated two million dollars to build the Conservatory to honor his Grandfather Robert Clark – co-founder of The Courier newspaper.

To the north of the roundabout stood the heritage statuary pavilion. This historic-looking building housed the Stoddart Statue collection. The group of statues consists of 12 white marble figures from Italy donated by Thomas Stoddart in 1884.
Vandals exist even in Australia, and they damaged the statues. So after nearly 120 years of roaming free in the 99-acre park, the figures crowded into to this pavilion home in 2002.
Ballarat Botanical GardensRebekah flirted with us while trying to keep fresh in her hot summer garb. I sympathized. It felt warm enough to me to wear different clothes. Maybe not that open, though!
Ballarat Botanical Gardens Modesty stood serenely behind her glazed window. She allowed us to glimpse her beauty beneath her sheer drapes. Judging by her straight, slim toes, she was pretty foxy in her day. But she did not look like she had much of a sense of humor.

The Conservatory

North Gardens

I read that the remains of a zoo dot the North Gardens. Either we did not visit that, or I fell asleep under a tree, and a lion ate me.

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Ballarat Botanical Gardens
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Quiz

Who was Australia’s second Prime Minister?

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How to Relax Under a Fairies Tree

Australia #16 Fitzroy Gardens and the Fairies Tree

Relax? Are you kidding? Life gets hectic surrounded by five million people, the population of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. That might make someone like me from a town of 7,000 feel somewhat claustrophobic. Since 1848 Melbourne has found a way of calming its visitors and residents alike. Come with Carol and me through Fitzroy Gardens and relax.

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Relax
Fairy Tree in Fitzroy Gardens

Carol and I found one of the secrets in Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne. Wide paved pathways lead to the Fairies Tree and the Model Tudor Village.

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Relax, you got credit for this, OLA.

Ola Cohn carved the Fairies Tree and dedicated it to the children of Melbourne. One mother complained on Trip Advisor that it was not worth the walk with a baby in a tram. She missed the idea.

Relax? Did you see that giant spider web?
Playful artwork

Young mothers like Tram Mom may have lost the skill of relaxing and enjoying an afternoon of imagination. What conversations she could have had with Tram Baby about a bear that stood no larger than a bird. Did he shrink? He looks fearful.

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Relax, you can’t fall off the web. Bird’s got your back!

Imagine this!

Fairies, full of energy, climb and play on the branches of the giant web. Some practiced their gymnastics while others cuddled the fuzzy spider. Children, surrounded by onlooking adults, imitate the fairies and practice their gymnastics on the lawn. Applause breaks out.

I picture Creative Mum and five-year-old Frannie with books and writing materials spreading out a blanket near the tree. Creative Mum opens an insulated lunch bag. Slowly she pulls out a sandwich made with magic peanut butter spread on raisin bread with a banana face dusted with a light coating of powdered fairy dust.

“I brought your favorite a fairy catching sandwich,” she says as she takes it out.

Frannie squeals, jumps up and down, spins around, and runs over to the fairies to tell them.

“Come sit down,” Mum calls out laughing.

“The fairies want a bite of the magic peanut butter.”

“Yes, they do, and they will sneak over and grab your sandwich if you are not careful.”

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Relax, Eagle has the peanut butter kid under control

Frannie plopped onto the plaid blanket and lay on her belly propped up on her elbows. She looked at the fairies clamoring for her attention.

“You want some of this, you sneaky fairies? You can’t have my magic sandwich. It will make me fly like you.”

She glanced down at her peanut butter and banana sandwich. She dipped her finger in peanut butter and held it up for the fairies to lick off her. Then she rolled over and giggled as she stuck her gooey digit into her mouth. The fairies still clamored, so Frannie teased them again.

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Relax Teddy. Some sweet kid will fall in love with you.

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On the other side of the tree, Tram Mom’s baby reached out to the bear. The tree bear wanted to ride along. Tram Baby looked up at Tram Mom and whimpered. Tram Mom angrily pushed the Tram away from the tree.

“No, you can’t have that bear. Here, play with your teddy. Let’s go.”

Tram Mom did not realize that the tree gave HER a reason to relax and build some memories and wonder in her children.

Ola would have been grieved to hear Tram Mom’s grumpy tirade.

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Clamoring characters vie for children’s attention.

“A long time ago,” Mum told Frannie, “the fairies might have jumped off the tree onto your sketch pad.”

When you were my age, Mum?”

“No, no, fairies are ancient forest creatures, older than the animals, and much older than I. They would dance on your paper making beautiful designs.”

“I can do that for them, Mum!”

“Yes you can, and we can show Dad and Eric what happened when they come home for dinner tonight.

Frannie leans against her mother and doodling. Creative Mom bends forward and whispers. Frannie looks up, and giggles then gets back to her task.

Several pages go by with many shared secrets and muffled laughter. Finally, Frannie says, “I’m done! Dad and Eric will be so excited to read it.”

“I think the fairies enjoyed it too. Can you hear them buzzing?”

Frannie sits quietly and purses her lips together as she listens.

“Yes!”

Together Creative Mum and Frannie pack up their lunch and go home to make finishing touches to the fairy story.

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It’s easy to relax if your guardian angel

The day Carol and I visited Fitzroy Gardens there were more fairies than people.The sun beat down on us. We did not have a blanket with us, nor a cute five-year-old with a peanut butter face.

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Carved Mom and fairies shield their eyes from the sun.

I Admit to Being Somewhat Tram Momish

By the time we finished taking photos, it was past noon, or at least 10:30. Since confession is good for the soul, I’ll tell you that I was a little out of sorts after walking for quite a while in the heat. We were both thirsty. Like the little red fox who got his fat tummy caught inside the tree, I wondered if I would faint from starvation. I’d had nothing to eat since my Tim Tam’s that morning.

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My imagination cried out for a break. Fortunately, there was a little restaurant with air-con a few steps away from the Fairies Tree. We trudged past the Model Tudor village giving it little more than a cursory glance on the way up the hill to the Pavilion Cafe.

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Model Tudor Village in Fitzroy Gardens

We both ordered an iced coffee and relaxed enjoying the pictures of the fairies tree on our digital phones. Carol quickly Instagrammed her photos. I sat patiently trolling my fingers on the table and waited.

I couldn’t post until I had internet service at the Air B & B to show my pictures on Facebook through my computer, the old-fashioned way. By that time my hubby, Vince had already liked her beautiful pictures. So I treasured them until now.

If you have a chance to wander the pathways of Fitzroy Gardens, take your camera, books, paper, crayons, and blanket and stay a while. Let the fairies do their magic before you leave. Just a word of caution, take sunscreen, cold drinks, and maybe hard candy from Ballarat or some nuts. Those fairies like to eat! And they are sneaky!

Enjoy more trails and paths by clicking on these two Photo Challenges, Jo’s Monday Walks and Cee’s Which Way Challenge.

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Oh no! There’s a Turkey in Your Garden

May Dreams Gardens #15 Australia

If you miss Ballarat, you miss Australia. Forget Sydney. Sovereign Hill went down in history and stayed there. Like going to Colonial Williamsburg, VA in the United States, or Mackinaw Island, MI or Columbia, CA visitors step back in time when they walk the city’s streets.

garden turkey
Sovereign Hill living the dream, steeped in Australian Gold Rush history.

“Oh my dear man, would you care to tour my garden?”

How could he refuse such an offer?

garden turkey
Peek-a-boo We have a guest. Let’s hide.

Guests are easy to spot. They dress funny.

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Keep looking up.

How delicate the tiny petals looked, so romantic.

“These  would look lovely in a bouquet on the table for tea, would they not?”

“Perfect like you, my dear.”

garden turkey
What’s that?

“Are those flowers moving. There’s not a wee bit of air moving.”

“Indeed, I do not feel anything but the scorching sun. I’m wearing my coolest dress today.”

“It flatters you, dear woman.”

“And are you keeping cool in your dapper black?”

“I’m not fussed about this suit.”

“Don’t get your knickers in a knot, my dear. We’ll have a spot of tea, straight way.”

garden turkey
These look like basil and azalea to me, but what do you think, Carol or Carol?

“What do you think of these muted colors, dear man?”

“Most muted, yes indeed. Most muted.”

garden turkey
There’s the culprit.

“There, I saw it again. A bit too much movement.”

“Ah, it’s nothing to rot your socks, sir. It is simply my turkey. He wanders the garden looking for a shady spot.

“I think I’d like to join him.”

garden turkey
I’m quite beautiful, don’t you think?

“Let’s get you to the porch for a lot of iced tea and maybe Sarah has baked some meat pies and pavlova.”

“That sounds lovely. It sounds like you have everything all sorted. Good on ya.”

“Thank you my dear. We’re in a good posi here on the veranda, don’t you think?”

“I’m enjoying shade and my lot of tea. Thanks for inviting me in to see your garden, and the surprise turkey.”

“It’s been my pleasure, sir.”

garden turkey

Have a lovely Sunday, and don’t forget to visit Carol and her May Gardens.

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May Gardens in January from Victoria, Australia

May Dreams Gardens #14 Australia

The weeds are growing well in March in the Ingrao’s California household. Instead, we’ll take another peek into the summer beauty in Australia this January.

purple Australian flowers i
Melbourne agapanthus

In my brief experience when bloggers travel together, there is a great deal of serious alone time. Either Carol or I had wandered off engrossed in our own photo taking. When I looked up, she had her nose buried in the purple flowers above.

“These are one of my favorites,” she said. “Here’s a picture Leanne just posted on Instagram.”

Even if I could have gotten Instagram on my phone without costing $1,000 a minute, I probably would not have had better timing. Leanne had posted a picture much like what we were seeing. She picked a bud for her photo subject. So we looked for a bud and tried to duplicate her efforts.

purple Australian flowers
First agapanthus bud composition

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That was not impressive because the wrong part of the plant blurred out.

purple Australian flowers
So I tried it again only closer.

It got worse when I enlarged it! I can’t do manual focus! You can see that the greenery is lovely.

This beauty came from Ballarat, I think. I’ve taken my pictures out of context because I grouped them by purple. Don’t ask me why or what this is. Read Carol’s comments if you want precision. She has an encyclopedia-brain. Mine bee a bit fuzzy!

purple Australian flowers
Look closely at Mr. Buzz. He’s immersed his food.

Notice that Mr. Buzz has pollen all over his face and legs. He reminds me of an 18-month-old boy eating chocolate cake. Enjoyment personified.

purple Australia flowers
Bees rule! How many can you count?

The bees did not bother us. They had food on their pinheads.

Happy Sunday! Hope you enjoyed beautiful Victoria in southeastern Australia. Be sure and visit Indiana Carol for more ideas and photos of gardens in my home state and beyond.

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Australia’s Famous Snugglepot and Cuddlepie Stories

Australia Post #13 Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

Actually, these stories rate less as an odd ball photo and more sweet and cuddly. However, I fear that a Sweet and Cuddly Photo Challenge might open up to something other than the Australian children’s fairy tales, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

Healesville flowersThat said, I thought it was a bit odd to have a gum nut shoved onto a lizard-riding baby’s head. Yes, I think it’s a little far-fetched to have soft baby skin riding a scaly lizard. Mothers tell me I’m right! Carol informed me that I was a little off in my thinking and that maybe I’d better read the stories. The illustrations have a high cute factor.

Gum nut babyYou make your own judgment.

Be sure to check out Cee’s other oddball photos.

view in the loo

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