With the weather warming up, there’s nothing I like more than a wander around the city we now call home. Melbourne is a pretty lively city, and we’ve still only seen a small amount of what the inner-city area has to offer. We love the Queen Victoria Markets, but we’re fond of a routine and lately we’ve gotten into the habit of walking to the markets and not going an inch further. So, we decided it was high time to see some of Melbourne’s green spaces, specifically the Royal Botanic Gardens.
As a nod to old routines we stopped to pick up a few picnic goodies at the markets before wandering down to South Bank, across the river, and along to the gardens. It’s a stinking hot day, and by the time we navigate South Bank and get to the shady edges of the gardens, we’re both sweating. Luckily we’ve got a picnic blanket, and there’s a spot of shaded grass calling out names. It could have been tranquil, but a police helicopter was either chasing a fugitive, or buzzing around the city as lazy as a summer fly, so instead of listening to the sounds of the gardens, we got the hum of human invention.
The Royal Botanic Gardens are located on a sizeable parcel of land, much bigger I think (or at least feeling much bigger) than the Botanic Gardens in Darwin. There are lots of different areas, and a plant lover or nature enthusiast could easily spend a solid chunk of the day there soaking up the ambience. If Dean hadn’t been dragging me along, I know I could have. Fantastic plant specimens and everything from statues to water features. I’m a gardening geek for sure.
In this case though we did have a destination in mind in the form of a geocache called The Grotto, located somewhere special inside the gardens that the geocache description noted was ‘not generally found by the passerby’. It was easy enough to locate, and the cache found quick enough, but we lingered a moment in the fern-filled gully. Surprisingly there wasn’t much foot traffic inside, even though there were people walking and talking just on the fringes. I don’t know what it was that didn’t draw people in, but after the helicopter and the business of the city, that little grotto was a welcome reprieve. The water splashed and ran down the waterfall and into the landscaped river, and we stood on the bridge and were taken back to the tree ferns and the water ways of the Great Ocean Road again.
Stopping off at the Royal Botanic Gardens visitors centre for some much-needed sunscreen and a quick drink, we decided on the spot to take a break from the sunshine with a wander through the Shrine of Remembrance. The striking building is difficult to miss, but surprisingly neither myself, nor Dean (a dedicated military enthusiasts) had visited before. We took some time to really explore the Crypt, see the Gallery of Medals, and walk through the exhibitions and information on site, which included a very interactive timeline of conflicts with Australia’s involvement. Just before we left, we took a moment to climb to the top of the monument to look out over the city. The view from the Balcony is stunning, and the Shrine was actually built in-line with Swanston street, making it in clear view of the city.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, along with the Shrine of Remembrance, is definitely a must-do in my book for a Melbourne day out. Easy access from pretty much anywhere, ideal on a sunny day, and perfect to get a look at the greenery of the city, and her history.