Carolina: Cruising Past 70: 4 Major Parks and Gardens of Melbourne: Our 3rd Deeper Look into the City

Thursday, July 27, 2017

4 Major Parks and Gardens of Melbourne: Our 3rd Deeper Look into the City

an oasis in the middle of the city
Curator's Rock, Garden Ball, and the Garden House
Southeast of Melbourne’s Central Business District is two giant complexes that are reasons for the city’s acclaim as “the most liveable city in the world” six years in a tow. Together, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Kings Domain form a giant oasis in the middle of the city. The Sports and Entertainment Precinct, on the other hand, is site for many Melburnian gatherings and events that contribute to a high quality of life. One lazy afternoon Bill and I roamed the grounds.  

Royal Botanic Garden
Australia's National Tree, a golden wattle, n bloom
The Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne is internationally renowned. Located on the south bank of the Yarra River, it consists of 38 hectares of lands cultivated with a mix of the native and exotic vegetation of over 10,000 individual species. A second area in the suburb of Cranbourne, some 45 km southeast of the city, focuses on Australian native plants and has won an award for the section called the Australian Garden which opened in May 2006.

Bill and I luckily chanced upon a free Discovery Tour of 1 ½ hours led by a knowledgeable volunteer. I loved the Herbarium, the Gardener’s House, and many native Australia and New Zealand trees, plants, and flowers that dotted the pathways and the large pond in the middle. I was also in this Garden that I found my first-ever wattle tree, flared with its bright yellow blossoms! It is the national tree of Australia and we would soon find it common on road trips in the countryside.

King’s Domain

Kings Domain surrounds the Gardens. It includes the Government House, the home of the Governors of Victoria. The park was established in 1854 and covers 36 hectares of lawns and gardens strewn “with non-native and native Australian mature trees, a mixture of deciduous and evergreens.  Around the Domain are scattered memorial statues and sculptures, each with their own story.”
Shrine of Remembrance, Sidney Music Bowl, and the Governor's House

On a high hill of the Domain beyond the south end of the Royal Botanic Gardens stands the Shrine of Remembrance. It was originally built as a memorial to the men and women of Victoria who served in World War I.  Now it is a shrine to all Australians who served in a war and is where ANZAC Day on April 25 and Remembrance Day on November 11 are observed. It is one of Australia’s largest war memorials.

On another hill beyond the opposite north end of the Gardens is the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Opened in 1959, it was inspired by businessman/ philanthropist, Sidney Myer. About 3-4 free, open-air concerts are held in a year, including one by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The largest crowd ever was the 1967 Seekers homecoming concert (200,000) listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest attendance in history in the Southern Hemisphere in history. Other artists who have performed at the Bowl include ABBA, AC/DC, Metallica, Wings, The Beach Boys, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Paul McCartney, and most recently Bon Jovi and Kanye West.

Melbourne and Olympic Parks

Australia's heart of sports and entertainment is the Melbourne and Olympic Parks. It is situated east of Melbourne’s CBD, across the Yarra River from the Gardens described above. It hosts around 600 events and attracts more than 2.5 million people a year.

Melbourne Park and Olympic Oval
Most notably, it is the site of the Australian Open, one of the four major tennis grand slams. Other celebrated national and international sports events such as rugby, football, netball, basketball, cycling, and gymnastics. It also stages highest-rated artists and shows like Katy Perry, One Direction, P!NK, Beyoncé, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Disney on Ice. 

Melbourne Park includes Rod Laver Arena (15,000 seats), Hisense Arena, (10,000 seats), Margaret Court Arena, (7,500 seats), 2 show courts, 35 outdoor tennis courts, and 6 indoor tennis courts. Melbourne & Olympic Parks, which also runs the adjacent Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, also includes the Olympic Park: the AAMI Park (30,050 seats), Holden Centre, Olympic Park Oval, and Gosch's Paddock training fields. A major reconstruction was taking place and we were only able to take pictures from the outside.

Yoyogi Cafe in Chinatown
The afternoon was preceded by lunch at a Japanese café in bustling Chinatown. At the end of our roaming, we found ourselves at the Café L’Incontro just a block away from where we started, enjoying large scones and clotted cream. From there we boarded the tram to my daughter April’s apartment nearby, just about 6-7 stops away. It was a great way to spend a lazy afternoon!
L'Incontro Cafe's scones

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