Australia - Victoria
Join Deryn Thorpe visiting some of Victoria’s most beautiful gardens and meet the owners and the designers who created them. The tour travels to the Ballarat goldfields, Daylesford spa country, the Macedon ranges, the picturesque Yarra Valley, fern glades and forests of the Dandenongs, Victoria’s award winning native garden at Cranbourne and coastal and inland areas of the Mornington Peninsula.

Victoria’s Private Gardens and their Designers with Deryn Thorpe


Tour Highlights

With Deryn Thorpe, visit some of Victoria’s most beautiful gardens and meet the owners and the designers who created them.

Meet celebrity designer Paul Bangay who takes us through his own spectacular rural garden called Stonefields.

Rare plant collector, nurseryman and former Gardening Australia host, Stephen Ryan, will spend the day with the group showcasing the gardens of Mt Macedon. This will include a visit to his 25 year-old home garden ‘Tugurium’.

Spend a day with Deryn Thorpe and ABC Perth radio presenter, Sabrina Hahn at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

View the work of Phillip Johnson, the only Australian designer to win a gold medal and a ‘Best In Show’ award for his landscape display at the Chelsea Garden Show; we visit Lubra Bend in the Yarra Valley and his own private garden in the Dandenong Ranges.

Meet award-winning Melbourne designer Jim Fogarty who introduces us to Cranbourne’s Australian Garden, gives us a talk on using indigenous plants, and shows us one of is inner-Melbourne design projects.

Tour the magnificent gardens at Cruden Farm with Michael Morrison who worked tirelessly with Dame Elisabeth Murdoch for more than four decades. Michael is co-author of the recently published Cruden Farm Garden Diaries.

Spend a day with landscape architect and former presenter for ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, John Patrick, who introduces us to a number of spectacular gardens of the Mornington Peninsula. John will also host us for lunch in his home garden.


11-day Cultural Garden Tour of Victoria


Overnight Ballarat (3 nights) • Melbourne (3 nights) • Flinders (2 nights) • Melbourne (2 nights)



Visit some of Victoria’s most beautiful gardens and meet the owners and the designers who created them.

This new tour visits some of Victoria’s most important gardens and interesting home gardens. What sets this tour apart is spending time with the home owners and designers who make the gardens come to life as they describe their struggles and triumphs. We also meet some of the garden leaders for ASA, who join the tour to show us their home gardens, gardens they have designed and share their knowledge of the Victorian design aesthetic and their own garden passions.

The tour travels to the Ballarat goldfields, Daylesford spa country, the green heart of the Macedon ranges, the picturesque Yarra Valley, fern glades and forests of the Dandenongs, Victoria’s award winning native garden at Cranbourne and coastal and inland areas of the Mornington Peninsula. The gardens in these areas are very different due to varying soils, climatic conditions and the desires and styles of the garden owner and designers, so they’ll be lots of variety.

We’ll see flowery cottage gardens, cool rainforest designs, grand estates, striking use of Australian plants, dry gardens, contemporary spaces, relaxed country gardens, coastal landscapes, an inner-city design and collector’s gardens and get to spend a day at the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show.


Ballarat – 3 nights

Day 1: Saturday 17 March, Arrive Melbourne – Ballarat

  • Coach journey from Melbourne airport to Ballarat
  • Cameron House – a florist’s garden
  • Welcome Dinner

Our private coach collects us at Melbourne airport and drives to Ballarat, a city with ornate architecture built during the prosperous days of the 1850s gold rush. First we visit Cameron House, a quirky home garden created by Greg Block, an ex-florist with a passion for form, texture and shape. Recycled garden materials including fronds and branches have been transformed into beautiful sculptures which enhance a garden overflowing with potted plants including a big collection of ferns, bonsai and topiary.

We drive to the historic Craig’s Royal Hotel, a grand boutique hotel, dating to the gold rush which will be our home for three nights.

Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) D


Day 2: Sunday 18 March, Ballarat – Ascot – Creswick – Clunes – Coghills Creek – Ballarat

  • Begonia extravaganza at Robert Clark Conservatory
  • Lambley Nursery, the garden of horticulturalist David Glenn, Ascot
  • Pub lunch in historic Creswick
  • Free time in Goldfields streetscape of Clunes
  • Wine tasting at Eastern Peake Winery

We’ll walk through colourful bedding displays and beneath mature trees in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens to visit the spectacular autumn begonia display in the Robert Clark Conservatory. The showcase includes large flowered tuberous begonias in pots and pendulous varieties in baskets with perfect blooms in a rainbow of colours and forms.

We transfer to Lambley Nursery in Ascot, home of horticulturalist David Glen and his wife the artist Criss Canning. Their gardens have been created around an old farmhouse. David has learnt to work with Ballarat’s harsh climate and has transformed barren paddocks into a beautifully designed space overflowing with colour and structure. In autumn the spectacular display gardens which feature many salvias and dahlias are looking spectacular. The striking dry garden, which is watered no more than four times a year, will supply inspiration to those gardening with limited water. David is a plant breeder and his best known release is Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and he also trials flowers, fruits and vegetables which are on display in his bountiful and beautiful edible garden which feeds his family.

From Ascot we travel to Creswick for a light lunch at The American Hotel. There will also be some time at leisure for a short stroll up and down the town’s historic streets.

In the afternoon we travel to Clunes which has streetscapes straight out of a colonial history book. The picturesque and laid-back town is the most original and intact gold town in Australia and we have free time to appreciate the well-preserved 19th-century architecture.

Our last stop is to Eastern Peake Winery for wine tasting. Set on a small plateau at Coghills Creek the boutique winery, which was established in 1983, has the granite outcrop of Mt Bolton as its dramatic backdrop. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) BL


Day 3: Monday 19 March, Ballarat – Denver – Daylesford – Trentham – Ballarat

  • Stonefields, designer Paul Bangay’s home garden
  • Spa town of Daylesford
  • Frogmore, the garden of a horticulturalist and a florist

The day is spent in the country and our first stop is the home of celebrity designer Paul Bangay, widely regarded as the foremost garden designer in Australia. For more than 25 years he has created timeless and elegant designs around the world. He will take us through his own spectacular rural garden called Stonefields and will talk to us about the process of design as he shows us through the garden’s series of elegant and formal garden rooms. They include an entry court, front courtyard with water rill, burgundy rose garden, white garden with formal pond, apple walk, mirror image back garden overlooking the countryside and relaxed woodland garden.

Next we visit the charming spa town of Daylesford and have time to wander the picturesque streets full of boutique shops and find a café for lunch.

In the afternoon we journey onto Frogmore Gardens which started in 2002 when florist Zena Bethell and horticulturalist Jack Marshall bought eight acres of land near Trentham. Three hectares adjoining the Wombat State Forest have been transformed into a spectacular garden and Jack will explain the ideas behind his plant combinations as he takes us on a tour to see beds overflowing with dramatic perennials and annuals in dramatic, colour-themed wide herbaceous borders. He also has a passion for grasses which move theatrically in the breeze in the drought tolerant, prairie-style gardens. (Overnight Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat) B


Melbourne – 3 nights


Day 4: Tuesday 20 March, Ballarat – Macedon Ranges – Melbourne

  • Morning tea and tour of Tugurium, home garden of former Gardening Australia host Stephen Ryan
    Bolobek, a historic garden with designer flair
  • Lunch in the gardens of Bolobek
  • Alton Gardens Hill Station

We leave Melbourne for the green heart of the Macedon Ranges to visit the home garden of raconteur, rare plant collector, nurseryman and ASA garden leader Stephan Ryan. Stephen will show us through his 25 year-old home garden which includes a woodland area beneath a Eucalypt canopy, orchard with circular lawn, vegetable garden, perennial border and pond.

Stephen will spend the day with the group showcasing the gardens of Macedon.

We’ll meet Bridget Robertson who bought Bolobek, a historic working cattle property, with husband Hugh in 2006. This garden was laid out in the early 1900s and today demonstrates how a creative design style can be overlaid on an earlier garden landscape. Bolobek is on the Victorian Heritage Register because of the quality of its design, artistry and plantings. Bridget will share stories of the people that made the garden and we’ll admire its geometric design which focuses on attractive bark, soft green foliage and white flowers.

Following a light lunch at Bolobek, Stephen will lead us on a tour of Alton Gardens, an Australian terraced hill station around an 1870s home with an amazing collection of 600 trees, 24 of them on the National Trust Register of Significant Trees.

In the late afternoon we transfer to the Rydges Hotel in Melbourne, our home for three nights. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL


Day 5: Wednesday 21 March, Melbourne

  • 24th Melbourne International Garden & Flower Show

It’s a ten minute stroll from our hotel to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show, the biggest and best in the Southern Hemisphere and we’ll get there for 9am when the gates open. The show is ranked in the top five flower shows in the world and floral displays fill the world heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building.

Deryn will be joined by ASA garden leader Sabrina Hahn, best known as ABC Perth garden talkback presenter and for her weekly chat with Trevor Chappell on ABC Radio Overnights. Deryn and Sabrina will ensure you get the most from the show and will take ASA clients on a tour of the landscape displays which are created by some of Australia’s most talented landscape designers. They will introduce clients to the designers who will tell the group about the philosophy behind their designs and Deryn and Sabrina will highlight elements that we can incorporate in our own backyards. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) B


Day 6: Thursday 22 March, Melbourne – Yarra Valley – Melbourne

  • Visit to Lubra Bend with design Phillip Johnson
  • Lunch and garden tour of Alowyn Gardens by its owner, John Van de Linde
  • Guided tour and afternoon tea at Dame Nelly Melba’s home, Coombe Estate

We spend the day in the Yarra Valley, firstly with Phillip Johnson, the only Australian designer to win a gold medal and a ‘Best In Show’ award for his landscape display at the Chelsea Garden Show.

At Lubra Bend Phillip has created sprawling wetlands from a dry garden by capturing water to sustain a network of billabongs which cascade down to the Yarra River. Land was recontoured and boulders selected and positioned by hand to create natural sculptures. Phillip will explain how the garden was created.

We’ll also hear about the creation of a garden from bare paddocks by owner, John Van de Linde from Alowyn Gardens. After three years clearing blackberry from paddocks and improving the soil the first tree was planted in 1999. The four acre gardens are designed along strong symmetrical lines and include a perennial border, a silver birch forest, edible garden, and a formal parterre garden leading through to a series of small courtyards and display gardens.

We leave the gardens and travel a short distance to Coombe Estate. In 1909, after twenty years singing around the world, Dame Nelly Melba created a home and seven acre garden that has been preserved in its original state. Our guided tour of Coombe Estate will take in the Italianate garden and pool, French style rose garden, English herbaceous border, Australian garden and kitchen garden, all surrounded by a 10-metre high hedge, running 700 metres around the garden’s perimeter that was recorded in paintings by Hans Heysen in 1914. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL


Flinders – 2 nights


Day 7: Friday 23 March, Melbourne – Olinda – Cranbourne – Flinders

  • Designer Phillip Johnson takes us through his natural billabong garden
  • Jeremy Francis’ Cloudehill, a masterpiece garden in Olinda
  • Homely lunch at Seasons Restaurant
  • Designer Jim Fogarty gives us a tour of The Australian Garden at Cranbourne

We meet Phillip Johnson again today as he takes us through the home garden he created at Olinda which inspired his award-winning Chelsea garden in 2013 for Flemings Nurseries. His gorgeous garden has a sustainable billabong, surrounded by tree ferns, that doubles as a chemical free swimming pool. It has a waterfall, spa and is surrounded by garden featuring many indigenous plants.

Just down the road is Cloudehill where a maze of stone walls and jewel-like garden rooms are set within woodlands of historic cool climate trees. Over the last 25 years Jeremy Francis has created a garden on deep volcanic loam and a rainfall of 1.25 metres a year on a site that was formerly a cut flower nursery. Jeremy is a master gardener with an exquisite eye for detail and design. He will guide us to areas looking their best in autumn, including the tranquil water garden, the warm coloured perennial borders and two of Australia’s best Japanese maples. Keep an eye out for the detailed paving, few gardens do it as well as Cloudehill.

We’ll enjoy an old-fashioned, tasty lunch in Seasons Restaurant which has windows overlooking the gorgeous Cloudehill gardens.

In the afternoon we travel to Cranbourne where award-winning Melbourne designer Jim Fogarty, who is also a leader for ASA, takes us on a private tour of the multi-award winning Australian Garden. The garden shows the dramatic variety of Australian plants in an inspiring and immersive display of flora, landscapes, art and architecture. Set over 15 hectares the garden follows the journey of water from the arid inland landscapes of central Australia, along dry river beds and down mighty rivers to the coastal fringes of the continent.

Our tour will take in the dramatic red sand garden, rock pool waterways, Eucalypt walk and exhibition gardens all featuring Australian plants and Jim will use his designer eye to explain the design concept and plantings.

We drive to the Flinders Hotel, home for the next two nights. (Overnight Flinders Hotel) BLD


Day 8: Saturday 24 March, Flinders – Sorrento – Moorooduc – Flinders

  • Tour of Designer Fiona Brockhoff’s coastal home garden (to be confirmed)
  • Visit and lunch at The Garden Vineyard, one of Australia’s finest gardens
  • Rick Ekersley’s Musk Cottage (to be confirmed)

Talk on using indigenous plants in design by Jim Fogarty and Charles Solomon in the garden of Jim’s holiday home

We are joined today by landscape architect John Patrick, best known as presenter with ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, and leader for ASA. John will spend the day on the peninsula with us where our first visit is to a private garden in Sorrento.

Designer Fiona Brockhoff’s Sorrento garden called Karkalla, is more than 20 years old and showcases the importance of creating gardens in sympathy with the local environment. It is influential and much admired for the way it embraces its coastal location, modern aesthetic and sculptural use of Australian plants.

We continue to Moorooduc to visit the Garden Vineyard which features in Monte Don’s book and television program Around the World in 80 Gardens. Architects Sue McFall and her husband Darryl are the owners of one of Australia’s finest gardens. It was created in 1986 with many European plants but the plant palate has changed to suit our drying climate. There are several European-style rooms including a memorable silver garden, walled courtyard, a big perennial border and a formal area flanked by lilly pillys. The terrace overlooks a lawn that rolls down to a garden with only Australian plants and the adjoining lawns lawn lead to a display of maples in the glorious red foliage of autumn.

Designer Rick Eckersley’s sustainable garden, Musk Cottage, is on a ten acre block and was purchased to showcase a different way of creating gardens on the Mornington Peninsula. It combines Australian plants with others that suit a low maintenance, no-water garden. He describes it as a ‘multicultural melting pot’ of plants. Boggy areas have been transformed into a wetland in a garden that over the last ten years has continued to evolve and mature.

Jim Fogarty welcomes us to his holiday home in Flinders and is joined by Charles Solomon from Garawana Creative. Jim will talk about how the design was inspired by indigenous shapes of moving water and waterholes and will address the design challenges, including a small budget and a site that floods each winter.

Jim and Charles will explain some of the indigenous uses of the key plants in the garden. (Overnight Flinders Hotel) BL


Melbourne – 1 night


Day 9: Sunday 25 March, Flinders – Shoreham – Melbourne

  • Bagnols, a garden designed by Paul Bangay in Shoreham
  • Heronswood Gardens (to be confirmed)
  • Tour of Cruden Farm with garden manager Michael Morrison

Paul Bangay designed this garden to complement the French country manor design of the home. Built on a 1.5 hectare block with water views to Western Port and Bass Strait, the garden is divided into rooms and has an olive grove, dam, sunny lawn, shrubberies and paving beside a pergola supporting climbing roses. Paving is edged with lavender, garden beds made edged with box and an extravagant grassy staircase rises from a gravel boules court to a wide, flat lawn.

We will have lunch at historic Heronswood House where the vegetables and fruits served are heirloom selections picked straight from the gardens. Afterwards Deryn will take us on a tour of Diggers, a garden where edible plants replace many traditional ornamentals in the display gardens. Display gardens include ornamental vegetable borders and gardens with succulents and flowering perennials.

We travel to one of Australia’s best known gardens, Cruden Farm, which was given to the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in 1928 as a wedding present from her husband Sir Keith Murdoch. She cherished the farm at Langwarrin throughout her long life and created a fine garden with garden manager, Michael Morrison, who will lead us on a garden tour. We’ll take a stroll to the lake and walk through herbaceous borders, the picking garden, shrub walks and famous avenue of lemon scented gums that lead to the house before enjoying afternoon tea. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BL


Day 10: Monday 26 March, Depart Melbourne

  • Visit a Glen Iris garden with designer Jim Fogarty
  • Visit two design projects by Andrew Laidlaw
  • Light Lunch and a talk on design trends in the home garden of designer John Patrick
    Farewell dinner at Locanda

Today we learn more about the process of garden design when we reconnect with ASA leader Jim Fogarty who will take us through a private garden he designed in Glen Iris.

Jim will take us through the owner’s design brief and explain how he came up with an attractive and traditional design that followed the owner’s instructions. They said that they did not want a garden full of hedges and asked him to retain some of the mature trees, connect the front porch with the garden and reduced areas of red brick paving. We’ll get to see the results!

We then travel to the small, inner city home garden of landscape architect John Patrick, who will share his knowledge of Melbourne garden design trends and forecast the future of Australian garden design.

Today we also meet with Andrew Laidlaw who designed the Potter Foundation Children’s Garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Andrew has kindly agreed to show us two of his designs for residential homes in the Hawthorn area.

We have a farewell dinner tonight in a private dining area at Locanda in The Rydges Hotel. (Overnight Rydges Melbourne) BLD


Day 11: Tuesday 27 March, Depart Melbourne

  • Morning transfer to Melbourne airport
  • Today a transfer to the airport, departing the hotel at 11.00am, will be provided. B
  • Physical Endurance & Practical Information


Physical Rating
The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.


This 11-day Cultural Garden Tour of Victoria involves:

  • A moderate amount of walking mainly during outdoor site visits, often up and down hills and/or flights of stairs and uneven terrain.
  • A moderate amount of coach travel, several on winding mountainous roads
  • The daily schedule generally involves an early-morning departure (between 8.00-8.30am), concluding in the late afternoon (between 5.00-5.30pm)
  • 4-star hotels with 4 hotel changes
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage only includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.


Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on weather, clothing and what to pack.

  • ASA Cultural Tours - Victoria’s Private Gardens and their Designers 2018 - Itinerary and Intention to Travel Application Download

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AUD $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Double (as single) Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4-star hotels
Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
Transportation by air-conditioned coach
Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
Lecture and site-visit program
Entrance fees
Tour Notes
Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals

Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
Airfare to Melbourne
Personal spending money
Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
Luggage in excess of 20 kg (44 lbs)
Travel insurance