Get your history and picnic fix at these top spots
The shortest day of the year is done and dusted, and in anticipation of warmer weather and longer days, we’ve dug up three great heritage gardens around Melbourne.
A very short stroll from the CBD is the often overlooked Fitzroy Gardens. Heritage highlights include Captain Cook’s 1755 family home uprooted from Yorkshire and re-assembled here in the 1930s, a conservatory in the Spanish-mission style, and a collection of similarly strange fountains, statues, memorials and follies accumulated over the park’s 150 years. The park is blissfully under used, especially on the weekends. You can always find a secluded spot from which to admire the avenues of mature elms and rare specimen trees from the 19th century. East Melbourne.
The stunning suburban mansion is listed with the National Trust, and so are its extensive 19th century pleasure gardens. For horticultural heritage buffs, the gardens feature an impressive early example of water self-sufficiency – a complex wind-powered irrigation system fed by a lovely looking man-made lake. Above ground, the gardens are laid out in the romantic Picturesque and Gardenesque styles popular at the time. Put on your best frolicking frock and enjoy acres of scenic gardens, lavish lawns, a fernery, orchards, or a paddle around the lake. Elsternwick.
A little more atmospheric are the grounds and gardens at the Abbotsford Convent. The convent was also a boarding school and refuge for wayward women and girls, and at its peak it had a population of over a thousand, which was fed by extensive vegetable plots, orchards and farming grounds. Situated on an attractive bend of the Yarra, the rambling old convent site features beautiful and eery buildings, rolling lawns, secluded courtyards and a painstakingly restored formal garden dating from around 1902. It’s also free, open late, serves beer and if you want to get your hands dirty you can join the Convent’s dedicated team of gardening volunteers. Abbotsford.