Sunday, June 26, 2011

Royal Botanic Gardens - Sunday, 26th June

On a perfect Melbourne winter's morning, six Walkabouters and four guests 
met at Federation Square and set off for an 8 km walk through
the Royal Botanic Gardens.

It was a good thing that the campfire was going because it was sooo cold! 

We gathered around the campfire in an attempt to capture it's warmth, before heading off at a brisk pace, upstream, along the path that follows the Yarra River.

The city shone in the winter sun as the leafless boughs of trees reached over the waters edge. The path took us through Birrarung Marr Park and we stopped to look at various interesting sculptures along the way.

We crossed over the Yarra River on the Olympic Boulevard bridge and then walked up a short incline into the Royal Domain Gardens and joined the path leading towards the Royal Botanic Gardens.

We entered the Gardens through the Lych Gate.

(I looked this up on google 'cause I thought it was a spelling mistake but Lych is correct.)
A Lych Gate, for those who have forgotten, is a covered gateway that was built at the entrances to old English Church yards. The word lych comes from the old English word for corpse, so a Lych Gate is where the corpses were carried through before burial.

Anyway, we walked through the Lych Gate and were immediately struck by how luscious and vibrant the plants looked from the recent abundant rains after so many years of drought and water restrictions. Following the path past the Huntingfield Lawn we arrived at the Temple of the Winds.

The Temple of the Winds was built in 1901 on top of the hill and has commanding views over the Gardens and north, across the Yarra towards Richmond.

After a short stop to take in the views, we continued along the path down through the 'grey garden' beds,

past the Plant Craft Cottage,

...down some steps...

...and past the Northern Lawn.

The large ornamental lake was originally a billabong created by the meandering flow of the Yarra River. It provides a wonderful home for local bird life and aquatic creatures including eels. Thoughtful plantings of large trees and shrubs by Guilfoyle all those years ago has created a beautiful backdrop for the lake which make for beautiful gardenesque views.

  The land that was set aside for the establishment of Royal Botantic Gardens in 1846 by Lieutenant Governor Charles La Trobe.  Originally swampland, the area was drained and billabong was 'cut off' from the Yarra River which created the Ornamental Lake.

We walked around one of the small inlets and onto Long Island via a short bridge. Here we looked across the water towards one of the small islands and

enjoyed how the light played with the reflections on the rippling water.

After crossing Long Island we emerged on to Dog Flat just below the Hopetoun Lawn,

where an interesting large-leafed tree with a vibrant red plant growing at it's base,
caught our attention.

This new leaf looks just like a swan.

This tree is a fig tree that originates from the highlands of Papua New Guinea. It's scientific name is Ficus dammaropsis or is commonly known as the Highland Breadfruit or 'Tok Pisin' in local Papuan dialect.

The fruit of a Breadfruit Tree.

We were not sure of the name of the vibrant red plant, but it was very vibrant!!

Mystery red plant

If anyone knows what this plant is called please, leave a message below!

We continued on until we found a resting opportunity, one of many that are scattered throughout the Gardens.

On the way out we noticed another interesting plant that seemed to have a flower on it's leaf.

After closer inspection we found that indeed, there were many flowers emerging form the centre of the leaves of this plant.

This plant is called Ruscus hypoglossum and it is from the Asparagacaea family. This particular species originates from Central and Southeast Europe (Source:  wikilink).

Continuing on, we wandered past the popular Cafe and Restaurant on the Terrace next to the Lake and headed towards the Volcano!

Along the path, a surprise waited from us in some low growing trees...'s not every day that you see a kookaburra this close to the city!
(There were actually three of them, 2 were camera shy!) 

We walked up hill following the paths through the Eastern Lawn and arrived at Guilfolye's Volcano!

No, it's not a real volcano that spews ash into the air and stops airplanes in their tracks,

it is actually a reservoir built in 1876 to store water to be used for the Gardens.

William Guilfoyle, the second director of the Gardens, constructed the reservoir in the form of a volcano to provide a gravity fed irrigation system to water the plants.

The Volcano's reservoir was the main water supply to the Gardens for over 70 years before it fell into disrepair and lay dormant and overgrown for about 60 years. Over the last few years the team of gardeners at the Royal Botanic Gardens have worked to redesign and restore the Volcano. The pictures above show the results of their hard labour. 

It looks fantastic!

Unfortunately the Volcano's lining leaks and is currently empty for repairs. So that will mean another trip to visit the Volcano in the future.

We continued on, past some more resting opportunities  

and had lunch on the lawn next to the old Observatory Buildings

before wandering back through the Gardens on the homeward stretch.

The picture below is a bust of Ferdinand von Mueller who was the first director appointed to the Gardens in 1857.

Among his other horticulture achievements, he is also noted for  scattering blackberry seeds on many of his wanderings through Victoria because he thought the berries from the bushes would provide travelers nourishing, tasty treats on their travels.

Thanks Ferdinand, for the many scratches and torn clothes over the years!

We saw some magic puddings,

and a see through out-house that would be great for growing berry canes over,

and a sculpture with Snow Gums.

We gazed longingly at the seats in this lovely pavilion but kept walking.

With so many fascinating plants from all over the work and great views of gardenesque landscapes, our walk covered just a small sample of what the Gardens have to offer.
The Royal Botanical Garden's website is a great site to visit for lots more information.

We exited the Gardens via Gate H and joined the many people exercising on 'The Tan' and walked downstream along the Yarra, past the rowing clubs...

...and finished our walk wandering along St Kilda Road looking at the many stalls offering handcrafts at the Sunday Art's Centre Market.

Thank-you everyone for making this such an enjoyable walk
on such a wonderful Winter's day!

Walkabouters Club of Victoria Inc.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Walk Notice - Botanic Gardens - Sunday, 26th June

Grade:    Easy about 6-7 kms.

The Walk:

This walk along The Yarra and through The Botanic Gardens is a similar one, which we did in 2007, and it's being repeated by popular request. We meet at Federation Square at the Information Centre opposite Flinders St Station. We walk along The Yarra noting various activities of people out and about, and cross to the Gardens to explore some new additions e.g. "The Volcano", with an instillation of the watering system which filters and recycles. It has been planted out with fascinating varieties of dry plants in an amazing design pattern. Well worth seeing.

 We can buy coffee at the cafe for our lunch stop nearby and continue on through The Gardens enjoying the sights of this beautiful layout of huge trees and exotic plants.

If you are interested in joining us on the walk,
contact us by email for details.

Walkabouters Club of Victoria Inc.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Brighton Beach to Elwood

On this cold blustery winter's day, twelve Walkabouters and one guest bravely set out
on an 11, no sorry, a 10.6 km, bay side walk. We met at Brighton Beach Railway station with the intention of following the shared walking / cycling trail from Brighton to Elwood and return.

We carefully negotiated Beach Rd making sure to dodge cars and the many cyclists and gained our first panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay.

Port Phillip Bay, geographically covers 1, 930 square kms and the shoreline stretches for about 264 kms from Point Lonsdale to Point Nepean. 'The Heads' is the 3.5 km gap between the the two Points and is the only entrance to the bay from Bass Strait. The Bay contains approximately 25 cubic kms of water.

Prior to the end of the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago, the Yarra River and other tributaries flowed down the middle of the now bay to form a lake that was damned by the Heads before pouring out into the Bass Strait. As the sea rose, it drowned the lower reaches of the Yarra River, wetlands and lakes forming the Bay as it now exists (Source: wikilink).

Following the path we walked up to Green Point and down the ancient sand dunes which is now mostly covered by car park.

 The path meanders through the Willis Reserve which preserves remnant coastal flora,
that provides a natural habitat for local wildlife. Before the expansion of European settlement the shoreline of the Bay was covered by a wide range of vegetation including Coastal Banksia, Honey suckle, and grass trees (Xanthorrhoea australis) that were suited to the coastal environment.

We continued along the path and gained our first sighting of the
famous Brighton Bathing Boxes.

Bathing Boxes were built in many places around the shoreline of the Bay from around the 1860's. They were built to accommodate the public decency laws of the time for local wealthy landowners who wished to bathe in the 'health' giving sea water of the Bay. Of the original 100 or so bathing boxes 82 remain standing along the high water mark of Dendy Beach in Brighton.

These Boxes originate from Victorian architecture consisting of timber framing, weatherboards and corrugated iron roofs. They are not connected to service amenities such as electricity or water (Source brightonbathingbox). Two new Boxes were built to replace boxes that were destroyed by storms or neglect and were recently sold for over AU$200,000 each.

Not bad for an empty box!
If you would like to buy one you first need to be a rate paying resident of Brighton.

After taking in the colour of the bathing boxes and our obligatory artistic photos...(some examples above), we continued along the trail.

There were some brave sea birds resting on the rocks that were being buffeted by the wind and waves.

Many species of birds make live around or visit Port Phillip Bay on their migratory flights including various waterbirds, migratory waders, the White-faced Storm-Petrel, the Australian pelican, the Silver Gull, Pacific Gull and Australian Gannet as well as the Orange bellied Parrot which is critically endangered.

Further along the path, we could see the remains of the sea walls that were constructed by the blue stones that were originally used in one of the outer walls of the Old Melbourne Gaol.

 We rested under a large palm tree near the historic Brighton Sea Baths.

Sea baths were all the go in Victorian times (1800's) as bathing in the open sea was prohibited during daylight hours. The old Victorian's had very strict morals about men and women bathing together, as such there were originally 2 sea baths in Brighton one for women and one for men and were built off shore which required bathers to access the baths by a long jetty.

The sea baths were built in their current location in 1881 and reconstructed in 1934 after they were destroyed in a storm.

The above picture shows the walls of the sea baths.

We continued past the bath resisting the temptation to shelter from the wind in the enticing cafe / restaurant in the Brighton Baths and headed towards Elwood, taking in the views of the City skyline in the distance.

Along the trail, there are a number of interesting stops which provide an opportunity for rests and to also learn about historical and environmental aspects of the coastal area.

At this resting place we read about this sculpture (see below) that depicts the Emu Constellation that was important in the culture of the Bunurong people, who lived primarily along the Port Phillip and Western Port coast prior to European Settlement.

We also read about the celebrated works of famous Australian painters including Arthur Streeton, Charles Condor and Tom Roberts who depicted the area during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Port Phillip Bay is usually calm and placid as it is sheltered from the wild weather of Bass Strait. Today the bay was very rough, with waves whipped by the strong northerly wind ahead of the approaching cold front.

Walking into the wind was really hard going.

Lunch was enjoyed inside the Elwood Sailing Club which provided a welcome relief from the relentless wind.

After we satisfied our hunger and thirst we followed our footstep back along the path we had come which made for much easier walking as the wind was behind us.

We came across some people who were putting the windy conditions to good use
and provided many onlookers with exciting entertainment.

We continued back past the colourful boxes and observed the much larger boxes
overlooking the ones on the beach from the hill above.

We arrived back at Bright Beach Railway station and all enjoyed a hot drink and cake at a local cafe before heading home.

It was an invigorating walk!

Walkabouters Club of Victoria Inc.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...