When visiting a large city, it is easy to sometimes feel a bit removed from Nature and find yourself trapped in high rises and on hard surfaces.
Whilst that can be both interesting and entertaining, I find myself hankering for a break from the man-made uniformity of concrete and steel, even if it is just for a quick recharge before diving back into the hustle and bustle once more.
I posted a few weeks ago about a walking tour of Melbourne’s historic arcades. This time our walk takes us away from the streets and onto the leafy paths of the Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens.
The City of Melbourne has produced a series of walking tour maps and this one was aptly-named ‘A Walk in the Park’. It estimates the distance at 3.75km over two hours, and it was a wonderful way to kick off a lazy Sunday morning.
Again, I was the Keeper of the Map. Or am I more accurately described as ‘control freak’?
All the walking tours start from the Tourist Information Centre on Federation Square (although, in reality, you can start anywhere you want on the map) and we worked our way through the back streets and laneways of old Melbourne as we headed in a general easterly direction towards the Gardens.
Past historic cathedrals and prominent sites important to the development of early Melbourne.
Past famous restaurants whose names (Chin Chin, The Press Club etc) only rang a vague bell to this non-foodie. Or was that the ‘ker-ching’ of their cash registers signalling that they were completely out of my price range and palate?
Through graffiti-ed laneways were tourists and the black-beanie-clad Uber-cool jostled for space.
And finally out of the rigid grid-pattern streets and into the trees and leafy space of the Treasury Gardens. As the name suggests, these gardens are adjacent to the Victorian Government’s Treasury Building and their majestic Parliament House. For some reason the Gardens are also home to sculptures of both the poet Robert Burns and the American President, John F Kennedy. Perhaps there were fans of both these men in influential decision-making roles, or both these men were cashed up and vain enough, to bankroll a sculpture in their own image! The mystery continues…
Sun streamed down on us, completely unexpected in Melbourne in late May, and we started to peel off the many layers of clothing we thought we had better wear…just in case.
The Fitzroy Gardens were a hive of activity with joggers, strollers and protestors. The Falun Gong sect were carrying out a peaceful and silent protest with a large ‘sit-in’ on the lawns. If that is the way they want to spend their Sunday mornings, well good luck to them.
The rest of us were happy to stroll the manicured paths as a gentle shower of golden Autumn leaves rained down on us. You can imagine that the leaves were a huge hit with the many small (and large) children who romped through the leaf drifts and did their very best to cover themselves from head-to-toe in foliage. All good photography fodder for their adoring parents.
A feature of the park is Cook’s Cottage which was transported from Great Ayton, Yorkshire in northern England in 1934, as a gift to Victoria to commemorate the State’s centenary. Built in 1755, Cooks’ Cottage is the oldest building in Australia and amazingly, each brick was individually numbered, packed into barrels and then shipped to Australia.
It seems a bit incongruous having a ye olde English cottage plonked in the middle of an Australian park, but it was definitely popular with the many tourists we saw who were more than happy to pay the entry fee and dress up in ye olde English clothes to really get into the spirit of things.
It is debatable whether Captain Cook even lived in this house, but his parents did, so I guess it is a case of six degrees of separation.
The walking tour guided us through gorgeous avenues of stately trees, past more sculptures and fountains and we were soon working our way out of the gardens and back into the city itself.
If we had had more time, we would have loved to have explored a few of the beautiful buildings. Many of the churches and cathedrals offer guided tours, but we had to be content with external views only on this walk. The Jeff Kennett (former Premier of Victoria) gargoyle was particularly amusing and proved that stonemasons have a good sense of humour.
After such an arduous (NOT!) morning we decided to reward ourselves with a delicious pub lunch with Chloe. Chloe is an infamous full frontal nude painting who has been loved, and leered at, at the Young and Jackson Hotel since 1909. A very popular attraction with male pub patrons over the years.
We toasted each other and felt thankful for a happy weekend and the joy of good friends.
Nothing like a walk in the sunshine amongst ancient trees to put the World, and city, in perspective.
What’s your favourite walk in the park?
What: For more delicious Melbourne delicacies, check out Red Spice Road for amazing Asian fusion food. You must book well in advance, and perhaps you will have to share a table with complete strangers, but it is worth it.
Where: Through the orderly streets of central Melbourne and into the green space of the Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens.
When: An unseasonably warm weekend at the end of May. All the beanies, scarves, gloves and wet-weather gear we packed, remained in the suitcase
Why: A girlies weekend to chat uninterrupted for hours and hours and hours, and a walk to offset some of the calories consumed!
How: We flew to Melbourne from Dubbo with JETGO…now no more.
Who: Melbourne is for shoppers, culture vultures, foodies, architecture fiends, history lovers, walkers and more.
Related Posts: For more a more expensive walk suggestion, check out my post about a stroll through the historic retail arcades of Melbourne.
Related Blogs: Andrew Harper’s blog is worth a quick look as it has some nice photos of the Fitzroy Gardens hot house and its flowers.
Read About it: Interested in gardens, gargoyles, trees, sculptures or Captain Cook? Then find it all at the Book Depository.