Located in South Yarra Como House and its surrounding manicured gardens provide an insight into Melbourne’s aristocracy. Built in 1847, for Sir Edward Eyre Williams, the mansion is a blend of Italianate and Australian Regency architecture and sits on six and a half acres of land. After changing hands several times Como House was eventually purchased by the Armytage family in 1864 and for 95 years they hosted many of Melbourne’s finest dances and dinners. Inside the historical mansion you will find family heirlooms and preserved reception rooms allowing visitors to step back in time. These days the gardens are free to visit throughout the week, while the historical house can be toured on the weekends.
Como House and Gardens, Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave, South Yarra VIC +61 (0) 3 9656 9889
In 1979, a community committee sought to create a place where city children could discover and learn to nurture animals. With that vision in mind the Collingwood Children’s Farm was established. Wander around the 17-acre property through paddocks, gardens and orchards and meet the friendly farmyard animals as you unwind. You can milk cows, bottle-feed lambs, feed chickens and help with a myriad of other farm chores or you can relax at the farm café. The farm and café are open every day and there is a market on the second Saturday of every month.
Collingwood Children’s Farm, 18 St Heliers St, Abbotsford VIC +61 03 9417 5806
Amongst the skyscrapers and busy city streets is a garden which is as serene as it is accessible. The Royal Botanic Gardens is spread across 94 acres and is home to 10,000 plant species, both native and exotic. The species were selected for their rarity and significance and have been organized thematically. Amongst the categories are the Australian Forest Walk, California Garden, Cacti and Succulents, Camellia Collection, Eucalypts, Fern Gully, Herb Garden, Long Island, New Caledonia Collection, New Zealand Collection, Roses, Southern China Collection, Tropical Display-Glasshouse and the Water Conservation Garden. You will also find a café, 11 lawns for sprawling over with a good book and a 3.8km walking track known as The Tan.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Birdwood Ave, South Yarra VIC +61 03 9252 2300
Located in Williamstown, 20 minutes from city, is an unspoilt marine sanctuary that stretches over 30.5 hectares, down over one kilometre of shoreline and 300 meters offshore. Jawbone Marine Sanctuary is one of three protected marine sanctuaries in Port Phillip Bay and is a haven for costal and marine life. Previously the Merrett Rifle Range had fenced off this area but the sanctuary is now open to explore via the walking track. Rock pools, mangroves and basalt reefs provide refuge for urchins, crabs, fish and sea birds including 36 threatened bird species making Jawbone Marine Sanctuary a treat for nature lovers.
Spread over 16 acres are the 11 buildings that together form Abbotsford Convent. In 1863 four nuns arrived to establish the Convent of the Good Shepherd. Since its establishment the many buildings at Abbotsford Convent have included: St Euphrasia, Providence finishing school, St Mary’s, St Anne’s, Sacred Heart, Rosina, Mercator, Magdalen Laundries and an Industrial School. These days the Convent is an arts and cultural community and is home to a radio station, four markets, music events, an outdoor cinema, a bakery, bar, café and restaurants. The exquisite gardens are also worth a wander through.
Abbotsford Convent, 1-16 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford VIC +61 03 9415 3600
If you’re looking for an ocean view without the St Kilda crowds then make your way to Elwood beach. Only 20 minutes from the city Elwood beach is popular for water sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing and parasailing and with strong southerlies the beach provides good breaks for surfing. The Elwood foreshore is also the home of a yoga class, sailing club and an angling club. Other facilities include BBQs, a park and shops, cafes and restaurants. In the cooler months the crowds die off making Elwood the ideal stretch of sand to stroll down. Trust us you will quickly find serenity watching the rhythmic waves.
On the school holidays the Melbourne Museum is swarmed by children, but visit mid-week, mid-term and you will find that wandering through the vast exhibition spaces can be strangely soothing. Located in the Carlton Gardens the Melbourne Museum is is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere. Roam beneath towering dinosaurs, discover the Melbourne story, see Aboriginal and Pacific Islander artifacts and stroll through a ‘living temperate Victorian forest environment.’ With several galleries and permanent exhibits you could spend an entire day exploring the museum where you’ll discover that relaxation doesn’t have to be boring.
Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC +61 03 8341 7777
Stretching from Flinders Street Station to Rod Laver Arena and the sporting precinct lies the 20 acre, river-front park known as Birrarung Marr. Plans were first proposed in 1856 but it wasn’t until Australia Day 2002 that the park finally opened. Birrarung Marr translates to the ‘river of mists’ in the Woiwurrung language of the indigenous Wurundjeri people. The park was designed by Ronald Jones and Helena Piha and features Speaker’s Corner, The Federation Bells, the sculpture Angel, the William Barak Bridge and trails for cyclists and walkers. Native Australian plants including mature elms, river red gums, cycads, gymea lilies and pineapple zamia are present throughout the park and despite the close proximity to trains and roads Birrarung Marr is amazingly peaceful.
Birrarung Marr, Batman Ave, Melbourne VIC +61 03 9658 9658
Built in 1868 for Sir Frederick Sargood, Rippon Lea Estate is an expansive property located seven kilometres from the city in the suburb of Elsternwick. Originally the house comprised of 15 rooms, but over the course of its lifetime has expanded to 33 rooms including an opulent drawing room, conservatory and a spacious dining room. The 14-acre gardens encompass a lake and boathouse, fernery, orchard, rose garden, lavish swimming pool, stable complex and a lookout tower. Open daily Rippon Lea Estate is a fascinating property to visit and the grandeur of the gardens allows you to explore peacefully. Currently, ‘The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition’ is on show inside the mansion.
Rippon Lea Estate, 192 Hotham St, Elsternwick VIC +61 03 9523 6095
The Shrine of Remembrance honours Victorians who served during World War I and is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in war. Situated on Kings Domain, St Kilda Road the shrine was designed by WWI veterans Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop and opened in 1934. Open daily, you can explore the memorial yourself or follow one of the guided tours. On display are more than 800 war time artifacts from the 1850s to now. The Shrine of Remembrance hosts war commemorations on both ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. The Shrine of Remembrance is the ideal place for reflection and stillness.
Shrine of Remembrance, Birdwood Ave, Melbourne VIC +61 03 9661 8100