I have been trying to get out every day to take a walk for exercise, get some fresh air to clear my head and take some photos to satisfy my photography itch. Fortunately, the weather has turned here in Melbourne and we are getting some amazingly beautiful days at the moment. Sunny with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Perfect motivation to get out and amongst it. I also need to get into better shape. I am a bit of a bear and tend to ‘store’ calories over winter. I want to be a lot more active especially with another trip to Japan coming up in 6 months time. I want to do lots of walking there to see as much as I can see. 

So far so good. On Tuesday I got out for a good walk and made my way to photograph some beautiful flowers and plants at the Victoria Gardens in Prahran. Then on Wednesday, I walked down to one of my favourite places – the Prahran Market and walked around for a good hour doing some street photography. Then today, I took a short car ride towards St. Kilda and visited both the Rippon Lea Estate and the St. Kilda Botanical Gardens. Both beautiful large gardens and both very close to my home. And not that far from the centre of Melbourne either. 

Rippon Lea Estate is a Victorian-era mansion and grounds originally built in 1868.  The land area was originally twice the size it is now and was mostly farmland. This year is actually the 150th year of Rippon Lea Estate and is now open to the public for either access just to the gardens or the gardens plus the mansion itself. Years ago I took the time to walk through the mansion and it was visually and historically impressive. Today, I only toured the gardens as I was enjoying being outside. I remember bringing the children here with my wife years ago. The last owner of the estate died in 1972 and she left the entire property to the National Trust to protect it from sale, subdivision and falling into disrepair. 

The entrance house is a small cottage like structure that serves as tea rooms, ticket office and souvenir store. Just outside the rear of the house, there is a garden with tables and chairs to enjoy a light meal and drink. The gardens themselves are huge and quite lovely with big open lawns in front of the mansion and twisting paths around and over the ponds. The house sits towards the rear of the grounds and off to the southern end of the mansion is a large steel fernery then a system of ponds connected by bridges. There seems to be a full-time team of gardeners maintaining the grounds and they are fantastic. Perfect for a picnic or for kids to play and explore. Or perfect for photographers looking to capture some architecture and landscape shots. 

Not far away is the St. Kilda Botanical Gardens. I am pretty sure that this was my first visit to these gardens.  I am after all spoiled for choice with the Botanical Gardens, Victoria Gardens, Fawkner Park and many other Melbourne gardens very close by. Regardless I was impressed by the size of these gardens. There was what looked like a recently installed or rebuilt pond complete with a small water way leading into it. The ducks were happy. There was also a green house filled with tripical plants – I took most of these shot within that structure. 

Either Rippon Lea Estate or St. Kilda Botanical Gardens are great for a leisurely stroll or for a more planned family picnic. Whilst the Botanicals are free to enter there is a charge to enter Rippon Lea. Visiting Melbourne and hoping to spend time looking at gardens without the trourists, then check out etiehr of these sites. All of the images captured today were taken with teh Fujfilm X70. I chose to use this camera as it has a slightly wider fixed 18mm lens which I find perfect for leisurely stroll and for capturing more of the view in a landscape. Happy travels.