Book our Great Southern Rail tour before June 15 to catch an early bird discount of $250 per person. We leave Sydney on the Indian Pacific on October 19, bound for great gardens of South Australia and Victoria where the roses are in full bloom. Wondering if the leisurely train travel, gorgeous gardens, great food, and good company are your kind of thing? Check out some pictures from last year’s tour.
There is lots to discover in the Adelaide Botanic Garden – the International Rose Garden and the National Rose Trial Garden for instance, where roses are trialed before they are realeased to the public. None of us paddled in the rill of the Water Mediterranean garden like the visitor in this shot, though it sure looked like fun. Instead we took the more sophisticated option of lunching in the shade on the terrace above the garden. Roasted vegetable salads, charcuterie plates, local cheeses and artisan breads were followed by platters of cakes and fruit. Some of us tried to go light so as to allow for an exploration of Adelaide’s best eateries later that night. Others didn’t bother and said yes to an extra slice.
This is the view from our rooms in the Novotel Barossa Valley looking out over the valley and its best known product. We tried some of that local wine on the terrace of the restaurant as the sun set over the vines.
Our favourite garden in the area is over in the Clare Valley. This is the Heritage Garden, owned by Walter and Kay Duncan. Walter is a renowned rosarian, who is responsible for propagating more than a million roses over his career as a nurseryman. The roses in your garden could very well have been propagated by Walter. He’s a man as keen to share his knowledge of roses as he was keen to acquire it, so a day spent in his garden is both educational, and an absolute delight.
Over in the Adelaide Hills we dropped in on Ruth Irving at her garden Al-Ru Farm at One Tree Hill. Ruth is a passionate gardener who loves to create perfect pictures in the garden by matching the colour and texture of flowers and foliage. She snaps off a bit of something she’s not sure of and wanders the garden holding it up against other plants until she finds the right match. It all works beautifully under a canopy of mature trees that give structure and a wonderful backdrop to the garden.
We farewelled Adelaide and took a relaxing trip in The Overland to Melbourne. We loved the Melbourne Botanic Gardens and were swept away by the Australian Garden outpost at Cranbourne. These grass trees in full flower were humming with tiny birds sucking nectar from the spears.
Cloudehill, in the Dandenong ranges, is most famous for its walled garden and twin perennial borders, but the garden has plenty of other delights, including this walk of mollis azaleas all aglow. Don’t you love that wavy green border of box, planted and cut as a scalloped, rather than straight, edge.
Lambley Nursery was our last garden stop. It’s set around an old farmhouse in the central Victorian goldfields. Here, plantsman David Glenn has created a stunning dry garden that is watered only a few times a year yet is lush with colourful perennials, grasses and bulbs. The garden is a real inspiration for gardeners living with climate change and increasing water costs.
That’s just a few of the great garden moments we all enjoyed. Sadly there are no pictures of the jokes and stories we shared; the nights out at restaurants, bars and shows; the good buys; the people we met and were inspired by; or the quiet exaltation of driving through the countryside with the sun shining on fresh spring grass. All this, and we never even stepped inside an airport!
If you’d like to join me this year, take a closer look at the itinerary here or go ahead and book here.
Photos: Robin Powell
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