The countryside is spring-fresh and gardens are at their rosy spring peak as we take a relaxing train trip to the best of South Australia and Victoria.
Meet your Ross Tour leader at Sydney’s Central Station and hop aboard the Indian Pacific for our overnight journey to Adelaide. We’ll dine as the train heads west, and fall asleep to its rhythms.
Wake as we cross the Darling River and skirt the shore of Lake Menindee before we make our first stop in Broken Hill. There’s time to take a tour or to wander on your own through the early morning streets of this fascinating town. Reboard the Indian Pacific for a leisurely breakfast taken as we move through red soil country, spotted with wildflowers. Slowly the desert gives way to fields of grain, and then to townships, and finally to the suburbs of Adelaide. It’s late-afternoon when we arrive at Adelaide Parklands Terminal. We transfer by coach to our hotel, the perfectly located Crowne Plaza. We’ll dine tonight in the hotel’s excellent restaurant, Red Salt.
We’ll have our first introduction to the wonder of South Australia’s rose-growing prowess this morning at the International Rose Garden. This garden is part of the Adelaide Botanic Garden. It is here that roses are trialled before their release onto the Australian market. Less well-known highlights of the Gardens include the world’s only Museum of Economic Botany, and an impressive storm water capture and treatment wetland.
Lunch will be served in the Botanic Gardens.
Art and gardens come together today when we visit The Cedars, the family home of Hans Heyson in Hahndorf. Heysen’s studio is preserved as if he’s just stepped out for a cup of tea. We’ll also tour the house and hear its stories, wander through the garden, and explore the work of Nora Heysen, which hangs in her studio. When his daughter Nora showed an interested in painting flower still lifes, Hans gave the genre up, leaving the subject entirely to her. We’ll see the flowers they both painted growing in the garden, and explore the property where the great gums that Heysen is best known for still dominate the skyline. We’ll enjoy a morning tea here at The Cedars.
This afternoon we head into the lovely Barossa valley with an afternoon tea stop at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop before we check in to the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort. All the rooms have panoramic views across the Barossa Ranges and Jacobs Creek vineyards.
Dinner is included tonight at the hotel.
A feast of roses today when we travel into the Clare Valley to visit The Heritage Garden of world-renowned rosarian, Walter Duncan. Walter and his wife Kay are generous, knowledgeable and charming hosts. We’ll discover all kinds of ways to grow roses here: ‘Lamarque’ wraps verandah posts; ‘Mme Gregoire Staechlin’ hangs over the veranda; ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ perfumes an allee of arches; ‘Julia’s Rose’ and ‘Pierre de Ronsard’ are espaliered against galvanized iron and the wonderful French Guillot roses have a place of honour. Lunch will be served in the garden.
Return to the hotel with free time to enjoy the facilities of the Barossa Resort.
We say goodbye to the Barossa this morning, and head first to a charming private garden with a small nursery attached. We’ll have free time to explore, shop and lunch in the pretty village of Hahndorf before we head down to Adelaide and the gardens at Carrick Hill. This grand Tudor-style house, built in 1930 by Sir Edward Hayward, is surrounded by wonderful gardens, including extensive rose gardens.
We’re up early this morning to catch The Overland to Melbourne. The train has recently been refurbished, and offers a comfortable, spacious and relaxing journey through rugged mallee scrubland, fields of golden crops, vast open plains and gently rolling hills. We’ll pass through classic Australian country towns including Murray Bridge, Bordertown, Nhill, Dimboola and Ararat, before arriving in Melbourne late in the afternoon. We’ll transfer to our hotel, The Marriott, and enjoy dinner together in the hotel.
We’ll wander through Melbourne’s fine Botanic Gardens this morning with a passionate and knowledgeable Gardens guide who’ll bring the history of the gardens alive. We’ll finish up at the café on the lake, where the scones are some of the best you’ll find in the state!
This afternoon is free to explore Melbourne’s galleries and museums, or its fabulous shops and laneways.
Today we’ll visit two very different and contrasting gardens on the Mornington Peninsula. First, the award-winning Australian Garden at Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. This garden is inspiring, educational, and stunningly beautiful. Lunch will be served in the Boonerwurrung Café overlooking the garden.
Cruden Farm is this afternoon’s treat. This is the famous garden of the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, who came to Cruden Farm as a young bride more than 80 years ago. This much-loved garden is serene and subtle, much like the woman herself.
A cool-climate adventure today when we retreat to the top of the Dandenong Ranges. Cloudehill is our destination. This arts and crafts garden of jewel-like garden rooms is set within woodlands of 80-year-old European beech, magnolias, maples and Himalayan tree rhododendrons. The planting combinations, garden room design, and horticulture, all overseen by owner Jeremy Francis, are inspiring. We’ll lunch in the restaurant looking over the gardens before we return to Melbourne.
Lambley Nursery is set around an old farmhouse in the central Victorian Goldfields outside of Ballarat. Lambley is Australia’s leading mail-order, dry-climate plant specialist, and the gardens here are an inspiration. Our host David Glenn is an internationally recognised plantsman. You won’t believe the incredibly lush and colourful walled Dry Garden is watered only a few times a year!
On our way back to Melbourne we’ll stop at the charming spa town of Daylesford, which offers plenty of lunch opportunities, as well as some great shopping.
Tonight we’ll get together for a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.
Back to Sydney today on the XPT. We’ll get a great sense of the country as we journey north through Victoria and on into NSW, rolling into Central Railway at 8pm.
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