Australia (Victoria)
Visiting Ballarat Botanical Gardens, the Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, Dandenong Ranges, Paul Bangay's spectacular garden, Daylesford, Melbourne Town Hall, St Pauls Cathedral, Victorian Parliament, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, Olinda

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Day 1 Saturday March 22, 2014 Ballarat 
On arrival at Melbourne Airport we will be met by our private coach and drive to Ballarat. A welcome dinner is included this evening for tour members to get to know one another. Deryn Thorpe will outline the activities and program of the tour.

Day 2 Sunday March 23, 2014 Ballarat 
This morning we visit Ballarat Botanical Gardens, which covers an area of forty hectares divided into three distinct zones. The Botanical Gardens started in 1858 with a central area preserving the “Gardenesque” style of the Victorian pleasure garden. Located on the western shore of picturesque Lake Wendouree, a highlight of the gardens are greenhouses full of spectacular begonias. We enjoy a free afternoon in Ballarat. Perhaps take a stroll to enjoy the lavish gold rush architecture or visit the Ballarat Art Gallery, Australia’s finest regional gallery. History buffs can explore, a village set back in the Ballarat gold rush of the 1850s with gold mines, theatres, diggings, craftspeople and costumed street performers. Those that choose can have dinner there and stay for Sovereign Hill’s multimillion dollar Blood on the Southern Cross light show which tells the story of the Eureka stockade. Deryn will meet those wishing to dine with the group.

Day 3 Monday March 24, 2014 Ballarat 
This morning our garden visit is to Stonefields, Paul Bangay’s spectacular garden developed using knowledge gained during 20 years designing gardens. This garden will be a highlight of our tour and includes stone paths that meander through garden rooms that open out to a spectacular country view. We travel to Daylesford for free time for lunch. Daylesford has an amazing array of boutique and unique shops. In the afternoon we visit the Tangled Maze and Mistydowns Nursery. We will have a tour of the gardens with a gardener. Tangled Maze is an unusual maze made up of thousands of climbing plants many with flowers covering its two meter high walls. There are mystery trails and puzzles. We will have time to browse in the nursery stocked with heritage roses, peonies and unusual perennials. We will return to Ballarat for an evening at leisure.

Day 4 Tuesday March 25, 2014 Melbourne 
This morning we return to Melbourne for a sightseeing tour with a local guide. Experience the beautiful architecture of famous landmarks including the Melbourne Town Hall, St Pauls Cathedral, Victorian Parliament, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, the Tennis Centre and Dockland where we see Etihad Stadium. We also see the MCG and the Shrine of Remembrance in the corner of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. We finish at Queen Victoria Market for lunch at your expense. This historic landmark, is a tourist attraction and an institution for Melbournians. Open since 1878 it spreads over seven hectares. There will be time for lunch or shopping. The afternoon is free. Perhaps visit the National Gallery of Victoria or Spencer St Direct Factory Outlet. The tour manager will suggest restaurants for those not going to the theatre. We will organise tickets for a show at tour members’ expense when we know what shows are in the theatre.

Day 5 Wednesday March 26, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we visit the 19th Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, the biggest and best show of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. Floral displays fill the world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and the surrounding Carlton Gardens. Surrounding the buildings are landscape displays created by some of Australia’s most talented landscape designers. The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, is ranked in the top five flower shows in the world. While keen gardeners will want to spend all day at the show others may also take time to visit the adjacent Melbourne Museum. Tonight is a free night to explore Melbourne as you wish.

Day 6 Thursday March 27, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we travel through the picturesque countryside on the Mornington Peninsula to visit some of the best gardens in Australia. The region is also known for its beautiful coastline, wineries and food. We first visit the Australian Garden at Cranbourne, a spectacular landscape which has a dramatic red sand garden, rock pool waterways, Eucalypt walk and five exhibition gardens. We continue to Heronswood gardens, home of Diggers Seeds. We will have lunch at the Fork to Fork restaurant, where the vegetables and fruits served are heirloom selections picked straight from the gardens. This is followed by a tour of Diggers, who have Australia’s largest range of heirloom vegetables, cottage and fruit plants for sale. We continue to the Garden Vineyard, recently featured in Monte Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens. We return to Melbourne and Deryn will meet those wishing to dine with group to recommend a restaurant.

Day 7 Friday March 28, 2014 Melbourne 
Today we travel to the Dandenong Ranges to visit two of Deryn’s favourite gardens. We first visit Cloudehill where a maze of stone walls and jewel like garden rooms are set within woodlands of historic cool climate trees. We will have an included lunch here as the food is as good as the gorgeous views. This afternoon we travel to Olinda, the garden of Phillip Johnson. Phillip’s spectacular design for Flemings Nurseries won Best Garden in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2013. His home garden is just as striking and has a sustainable billabong that doubles as a chemical free swimming pool. Beautifully positioned walkways meander through the garden where it is hard to see where the bush ends and the garden, which features many indigenous plants, begins. We return to Melbourne for a farewell dinner on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. The historic tram will drive us around the city where we can admire Melbourne’s quaint streets while enjoying a fine meal with drinks included.

Day 8 Saturday March 29, 2014 Departure
The morning is free for individual activity. We travel to the airport in the early afternoon for a flight home and the tour concludes.

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Garden Tour to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
Tour price per person twin share $2860
Single supplement $500
Included in the price are:

Travel in first-class chartered coach
Accommodation in centrally located, first class hotels on a bed and breakfast basis taxes and service charges
Two dinners and two lunches
Sightseeing tours as listed in the itinerary
Entrances to gardens and attractions as detailed in itinerary
Tour leadership by Deryn Thorpe
Not included in the price are:

Travel insurance
Meals unless specified in the itinerary
Sightseeing and general expenses unless specified in the itinerary