Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The 'Parisian' Rooftop of - Melbourne

The top of Collins Street is often referred to as the Parisian end of Melbourne's CBD. Imagine my surprise when I visited the recently re-developed Myer Department Store to discover this site!
The Roof of the GPO
Riding the escalators was an experience - you ride up and up and then some more - finally arriving at the very top of the building. The glass roof of the store brings so much light into the 6+ floors - it has changed a dreary dark building into one of light - it's a triumph of design.

The glass atrium
But it is what you see outside the building (tucked in the corner behind the Apple Shop) that I really love. The skyline of Melbourne - old and new buildings justaposed. It really is worth a visit. Here are some of the sights!
The Post Office Tower, the dome of 330 Collins Street, the ANZ Tower - the list goes on
And right behind the main store the re-development continues. Currently only the original facade facing Lonsdale Street is buttressed and 'completed' - so for those of you who love to watch a building in progress - then this is the one!

I recommend a visit when you're next in the city - it's free, it's interesting and one of the best views of the rooftops of Melbourne

Bowen Cottage guest comment - this week: This place is amazing!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Block is back!

Channel 9's pretty famous 'The Block' is back for another round of renovating by 4 teams. This year the wreck houses are located in South Melbourne - just a hop, skip and a jump away from Richmond (that's if you have a big leap!!).

Last year the 4 houses were located in Richmond. Every week we (well not always me!) stayed glued to the television watching the 4 houses go from total wrecks to pretty amazing renovated homes. That's when you really see that a house can become a home! The viewing was over 1.5 million every night for weeks/months!

And then came the open for inspections! 25,000 people (yes 25,000) turned up to view the houses. The queue went on and on as it wound its way around the streets. It was totally unprecedented and totally unexpected by the organisers. It amazed me that anyone would want to go and look at them - particularly as many had no intention or the where-with-all to consider buying one at the public auction held in our local Town Hall (a black tie affair!!) where only one actually sold on the night! Perhaps the buyers had stage fright. It didn't matter when I drove down the street there were people at all hours of the day and night standing in front of the houses having their photos taken in front of their favourite one!

Cameron Street runs east of Bowen Street so if you are staying at the Cottage you might like to go for a wander and see what all the fuss was about!
'The Block' houses in Cameron Street, Richmond

I wonder what will happen this year.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Aboriginal Scarred Trees

Melbourne is home to the Wurundjeri tribe of Aborigines - the original settlers of our ancient land. Two of Melbourne's scarred trees are reminders that they inhabited this land for 40,000 years whilst European settlers arrived a mere 200+ years ago.  Both the trees are within walking distance of Bowen Cottage.
(The scar on this tree was created when Aboriginal people removed bark to make canoes, shields, food and water containers, string, baby carriers and other items.
Please respect this site. It is important to the Wurundjeri people as traditional custodians of the land and is part of the heritage of all Australians)

The beautiful Fitzroy Gardens (laid out in the shape of the British Union Jack) in nearby East Melbourne house one example. The day I photographed this tree I watched as many visitors strolling through the gardens missed it completely! It was only when I began to photograph it that anyone showed any interest!  
The Fitzroy Gardens Scarred Tree

As we move into the football season the second tree which is in the MCG park (a wonderful off-lead park for dogs to run free) I wonder how many football fans will walk past this tree without a  second glance - and I wonder how many who do see it will stop, look or even talk to their children about it. Heading to see their favourite footy team play will have much more importance to them. What a shame. 
The MCG Park Scarred Tree
Each one tells a story and yet I feel sure many people will sadly think they are both just dead trees!
Do you know of any other Scarred Trees in Melbourne?

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

The beautiful Carlton Gardens housing both the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum (both worth a visit at any time - more in a future blog!) is a wonderful location for Melbourne's own take on the famed Chelsea Flower Show - all-be-it smaller, less exciting, no Queen or celebrity visits and less sensational exhibits - but some wonderful ideas for the garden!

The gardens are seconded for 4 days in late March (with a week or so either side to set up/knock down) much to the chagrin of the locals who feel very strongly that they should be held anywhere else in Melbourne - just 'not in our backyard'. Yes the southern side of the gardens are closed for the period of the show and the grass suffers with the garden displays, stalls and of course foot traffic. It seems there's always an up and down side to using our public parks.

Visiting last Friday on a truly beautiful 29 degree Autumn day the gardens looked a picture - wonderful trees, a sprinkling of lakes and water gardens, the beautiful Exhibiton Building -  personally I couldn't think of a more perfect location so close to the city. 

The Bird's Nest
My highlights included a cubby house designed by our architect trained Premier - Ted Baillieu. His round cubby 'The Bird's Nest' was covered in twigs which I thought would be a wonderful way to cover an ugly rainwater tank. The cubby's were auctioned during the show for the Charity Kids Under Cover.

My favourite exhibit was a wonderful mud brick replica of a greenhouse in Ladakh - one of the highest and driest places on earth where the temperature can drop to minus 25 degrees in winter. Run by another charity lillefro - their passive solar greenhouses are used to grow fresh vegetables throughout the year. I was pleased to see that it won a medal.
The mud-brick Ladakh 'solar' vegetable garden

Inside the magnificent Exhibition Building - in the Great Hall of Flowers - was an array of wonderful flower arrangements - some created by floral art students, many by professionals. The smell of so many blooms under one roof was almost overpowering.

So if you're a garden or flower lover - or even a terrace vegetable grower - base yourself at Bowen Cottage and experience nature at its best!