Weekends are for exploring. And there’s nothing I like more than discovering something new in my own backyard – Melbourne’s great west.
Today, I chose a day out in Melton. Recently declared as Melbourne’s fastest growing municipality, I just had to head out and see what it has to offer.
First on my list is the Melton Botanic Garden.
I start with a stroll through the spectacular Eucalyptus Arboretum, seeing such beautiful big strong trees. This place is so peaceful and calm.
Then through the Western Australian and South Australian garden, onto the Southern African garden. There’s a wide range of bush plants and flowers, including unique natives to the Melton region, as well as plants from all sorts of places across the world, which have a similar climate and environment.
I’m talking flowers, grasses, cacti, shrubs, bushes, trees – I’m not a big green thumb, but recognise some native acacias, correas, dampiera and of course several eucalyptus varieties.
I soon realise I could easily spend my entire day just wandering through these gardens.
The botanic trail takes me around the lake, with perfect views of Bird Sanctuary Island in its centre. I sit beside the lake to enjoy these beautiful surrounds and breathe in the fresh, dry earthy smell, reminding me of the outback.
I meet John Bentley, President of the volunteer-run Friends of Melton Botanic Garden, who is more than eager to chat about the great things happening at the garden. I learn of the Botanic Garden Open Day on 26th May, celebrating Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand. And of a Guided Walking Tour and indigenous event happening on 31st May, as part of Reconciliation Week.
Attached to the gardens is a plant nursery, also run by volunteers. They sell some plant varieties so unique, you couldn’t find them at Bunnings! This is a nature lover’s haven.
I do my best Instagram investigating to find some local foodie favourites (there’s a few on there!). Oh My Greens is a family-run Singaporean restaurant, serving all things vegan. My Fried Cheeky Rice is absolutely delicious.
It’s a beautiful autumn day, so I follow the Toolern Creek Trail and make my way towards The Willows Historical Park. I make a quick detour to see the famous Big Red. The name has done it justice; I find the spectacular giant river red gum tree. Over 400 years old – he’s doing well for his age.
I make my way back around and along the creek’s walking trail. I’ve been told that platypuses live in these waters, though they aren’t the easiest to spot.
The Willows Historical Park is a nice patch of green with trees, monuments and plaques along the trail, sharing the history of pioneers here in the early 19th century. A bluestone farmhouse built in the 1850s has been restored and I’m delighted to find a group of volunteers welcoming visitors inside to have a look.
I explore various fascinating artefacts and learn of the original occupiers. Charles Williams worked as a Pound keeper and his job was to impound and sell unclaimed cattle. How about that!
The Willows Homestead is open to visitors on Wednesdays and Sundays between 1pm – 4pm.
Obviously, I never leave the house without my phone and was delighted to find that Melton has a free app dedicated to people visiting this region. It’s called Melton City Much More.
I’ve had an uplifting day of exploration through nature and history, but I can see there really are so many more things to uncover in this vibrant region.
I’ll definitely be back again soon….
Guest article by Amy Gardner from Western Melbourne Tourism (WMT).
WMT is an urban regional tourism board aiming to develop a more competitive tourism sector in Melbourne’s West. It encompasses the municipal boundaries of Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Melton, Moonee Valley, Wyndham and Maribyrnong. You can also find them promoting as Love the West on Facebook, Instagram and on LinkedIn.