Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lunch in the Gardens

On Thursday this week the Boss took us to Christmas lunch in the Fitzroy Gardens. The Gardens are on the edge of the central business district of Melbourne and just behind Parliament House. I probably haven't been in the gardens since my childhood. I do remember visiting the cottage which supposedly was the home of Captain Cook's parents. That's all I remember.

I'm not sure that I appreciated gardens until we visited the gardens of Paris and the Loire. Luxembourg, and Jardin les Plants were inspiring. Fitzroy gardens is probably about the same size, but different due to being in opposite hemispheres. Although there are many English trees, there are also many indiginous trees and plants among the winding paths. The land was set aside for parklands in 1840 by Govenor La Trobe.
The head Gardener at the time was James Sinclair between 1860 and 1870. Some of his plantings survive to this day.

After a surprise game of ten pin bowling, we alighted from our bus on the city side of the gardens and walked the paths to where, we did not know at the time. I lagged behind the others as I took in the sight of the Spanish style Conservatory built in 1929. Inside was a floral display of hanging baskets, and water plants.

Inside and around the Conseratory.

Cook's cottage was the next building we  viewed as we walked under the tall trees that flanked the winding pathway. It was dismantled stone by stone then transported to Melbourne and rebuilt in 1934.
The Yorkshire cottage was originally built in 1755. Cook never actually lived in the home.

From Wikipedia
"In 1933 the owner of the cottage decided to sell it with a condition of sale that the building remain in England. She was persuaded to change "England" to "the Empire", and accepted an Australian bid of £800, by Russell Grimwade as opposed to the highest local offer of £300.
The cottage was deconstructed brick by brick and packed into 253 cases and 40 barrels, for shipping onboard the Port Dunedin from Hull. Cuttings from ivy that adorned the house were also taken and planted when the house was re-erected in Melbourne. Grimwade, a notable businessman and philanthropist, donated the house to the people of Victoria for the centenary anniversary of the settlement of Melbourne in October 1934."

Although known as Cook's cottage, he never actually lived here. His parents did.

James Sinclair, the head Gardener's home still stands within the gardens and I stopped to admire the architecture while my hungry work collegues were about 100 metres further on.

James Sinclair's cottage, and he did live here............

As I hurried to catch up, I missed seeing the children's favourite, the Fairies tree. Sculptured by Ola Cohn, it links elves, fairies and goblins with Australian animals.

Before reaching the venue of our Christmas lunch, I passed the miniature Tudor village. Although a little tacky in my mind, the sentiment behind the miniature village certainly wasn't. It was donated to Melbourne by the people of Lambeth, England in 1948 in appreciation of food pacels sent to them from Australia during World War II.

The miniature Tudor Village presented to Melbourne by the people of Lambeth, England.

I wish I could have continued to explore the gardens further but both my stomach and my collegues were beckoning me to lunch. Maybe I'll return for a more relaxed walk another time.

The Pavilion Cafe during the 1950s prior to being destroyed by fire. A more modern building is where we enjoyed lunch.

If you would like to explore more of the gardens, follow the link below.

Apologies for the average quality of the photographs - I carry a small Canon camera in my pocket for ocassions such as this day. The weather was overcast and light rain fell most of the afternoon.


  1. No wonder the gardens are one of Melbourne's favorite tourists attraction. It is beautiful.

  2. And so are those of France. Nothing I have seen can compare to the grand gardens of Villandry or Versailles.
    Victorian car number plates had the sub-title of "the Garden State".
    Recently they have "The Place to Be".
    As much as we love France, home is home.

  3. I think the problem with traveling is that like cuisine, you develop a taste for other cultures, foods... Home is great and it is where you nest is, but you realize that you could have nests in other places too. If I only had the money...


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