Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oi, Fitzroy!

In my early twenties my refuge was here, in Melbourne's Fitzroy Gardens.
First set aside as a public space in 1848, and named after Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy - Governor General of the Australian Colonies 1851-1855 - work began in the 1850s. On a spring day such as this, they are especially gorgeous.
I was on my way to my brother-in-law's birthday at the very fine Flower Drum restaurant. Above is a shot of St Andrews Square, with Parliamentary offices behind it. What a wonderful place to work!
Much of the Gardens are open space, with specimen trees and avenues of trees. There are, however, more private spaces, such as above here, where Wigandia and yellow Iris fringe a pool.
This is the 'Temple of the Winds' rotunda, built in 1873.
A pollarded tree that caught my eye.
A broad view, above, with one of many glorious Hoop Pines ( Araucaria cunninghamii ) on the right. 
While much of Melbourne has changed beyond recognition since my younger days, 'Bishopscourt', the home of the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, across the road from the Gardens, remains the same as it has for decades: a mercy.
Above, a pair of striking, native Gymea Lilies ( Doryanthes excelsa ).
Fountains humanise a landscape and let us stop, and find peace beside them.
A view of the nearby, splendid St Patrick's Cathedral.
A wonderful gate tower at the entrance to this most august of Melbourne's Catholic churches, in Lansdowne Street, built of our characteristic bluestone.
A lovely white Azalea, sprawling at a side entrance to the Cathedral.
I couldn't resist this, as I wandered to lunch, a vehicle fit for The Thunderbirds' Lady Penelope.*Thankyou, Dave, possibly for a geriatric Lady Penelope.
Nearby, in Burston Reserve, behind the Old Treasury building, is this limpid sculpture, 'Great Petition', by Susan Hewitt and Penelope Lee, representing an 1891 petition presented to parliament "as evidence of support for equal voting rights for women".
 I've only got this here because I liked it, a view opposite the sculpture, and looking into the grounds belonging to Parliament House.
And here it is, Victoria's Parliament House, looking like a bastion of propriety, however much its attendees might well do with some re-orientation in nearby gardens...


  1. I had no idea Melbourne has such splendid vistas and buildings. And sunshine too, do you feel that you live in paradise?

  2. In the 19th Century, due to massive gold deposits found regionally, we were known as 'Marvellous Melbourne', then the richest city in the world. So many fine buildings and a number of well-considered parks were built. We also have a temperate climate - apart from the odd drought or bushfire. I wouldn't say the great tradition has continued, although it's still a very prosperous city: these days the spread of the suburbs is vast, traffic heavy, and new housing developments often ill-considered and ugly. There are only three cities in America with a bigger population than ours. Paradise? It can be, and fortunately we have an incredible mix of nationalities living in peaceful harmony, by and large, and no ghettos. There is a very strong cultural life and wonderful retaurants, and if it takes your fancy, sport of all kinds is madly pursued. I love it, yes, but I'd sooner live in the country.

  3. Lovely post, Faisal - I love the petition sculpture. I'm really missing having a proper holiday this year but at least I now feel like I've had a peaceful wander through Melbourne. Like a proper City Break - thanks. Great car, by the way, but Lady Penelope would insist on it being pink, I'm afraid.


  4. Thankyou, Dave. As long as life can feel a bit like a holiday, you can go without them, which is how it works for me, largely.
    Melbourne is - despite its comparative youth - a fairly European city. By that I mean, culture matters.
    As for the car, looks like I'll just have to keep it for myself. Parker, we're going places!

  5. Dear Faisal, it's so wonderful to read and see pics of familiar places that I too love and have grown up with. The Flower Drum is the best choice for a special occasion! cheers, catmint

  6. Hey, Catmint. I'd never been to The Flower Drum before. The food was faultless.
    I'm very glad we have some of these mature, panoramic Victorian gardens...very restful.

  7. Melbourne does indeed look like a beautiful place and the sculpture and buildings are wonderful, even the one of tagliatelle.

  8. Hello Alistair. I've only shown two thirds of the tagliatelle - there's more, too long in all to get into my picture.
    Whatever anyone says about the Victorians, to me nothing they built was ugly, the way so much of what has been built in more recent times could be said to be, without any sense of proportion or order. It's fortunate significant parts of our heritage remain intact.

  9. that garden is a lovely place for refuge... in any age i suppose : )

  10. Faisal, I know they say its a small world and getting smaller, but when i see the flora in your posts It seems you sure are worlds away. Another planet maybe? Thanks for your thoughtful posting. Gives me in perspective.

  11. Hi Daniel, yes, the world seems to be getting homogenised: it's good to get evidence that it has many identities co-existing. I sure like to see places entirely different to what I know. Thanks for your kind words.