Fitzroy Gardens

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One of the attractive features of Melbourne were the extensive public parks and gardens in the city centre. Fitzroy Gardens, on the south eastern edge of the Central Business District is one of them. The park was created in the mid 19th Century on what had previously been swamp land just north of the Yarra river. It’s named after Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy who was Governor of New South Wales (1846-1851).

It’s laid out like a British park with lawns, tree lined pathways, fountains and flower beds – although the plants are somewhat different from what we’d find in Britain.

One of the avenues is lined with magnificent elm trees – a rare sight in Britain due to native trees being savaged by Dutch Elm Disease. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photograph 😦

But here’s a few shots I did take

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A visit to the ancestral home

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The oldest building in Australia stands in the middle of Fitzroy Gardens in central Melbourne, only a short walk from our Appart-Hotel. It wasn’t actually built in Australia but in Great Ayton and was the home of the parents and other family members of James Cook the renowned 18th century explorer and navigator who is something of an icon in Australia. The cottage was brought to Melbourne in 1934. Each brick was individually numbered, packed into barrels and then shipped to Australia where the cottage was re-erected. Cuttings from ivy that adorned the house were also taken and planted – I doubt they’d get away with that today given the strenuous measures taken when entering Australia to prevent foreign specimens being imported..

We have a particular interest in Cook as he’s in my wife’s family tree – she’s descended from one of his siblings (as are my children, of course!). So we could argue that it’s her ancestral home! So a visit while we were staying in Melbourne was a must. Unfortunately the family connection didn’t result in the entrance fee being waived!

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The cottage has been furnished to be representative of the how it would have looked in the 18th Century

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In the extension there’s an interesting exhibition about Cook and his voyages.

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The house is surrounded by a reconstructed English style cottage garden

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where there’s a statue of the man himself. He probably never actually lived in the house as his parents moved there after he’d left home for Whitby.

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Although the house is quite small it was worth the visit and the entry fee (many tourists were standing outside the garden taking photographs without paying to go inside (to be honest, so did I last time I was here!). It was interesting to see the reconstructed interior of an 18th Century artisan’s cottage where my wife’s ancestors lived. The exhibition was interesting too and the guides, wearing period costume, were very helpful and keen to tell us about Cook and the cottage.

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