Monday, February 26, 2018


I think we all needed a sleep in this morning.  Our time in Melbourne has been pretty busy.  I think we actually slept until almost 8.30am before getting up.  Dan and Chloe arrived not long after that as they were picking us up today and carting us around, as our first priority before we did anything or when anywhere was to get packed and ready to leave first thing in the morning.

My body was really aching this morning.  I am sure it has a lot to do with lack of sleep and just being so busy.  It was good to have Dan and Chloe turn up as Dan was a great help with Steve helping him pack up all our shades and getting the van ready for our departure the following morning…
Bike ride into the city
Bike ride into the city of Melbourne
 It was closer to lunch time  before we left.  We ended up back at their place for lunch and then Steve and Chloe went for a bike ride into the city and Fitzroy Gardens whilst Dan jogged in.  

I remained at home.  A little down time for me was in order, so after having a rest, a little more photo editing and blogging took place.  The others all had a great time in the park. 
Fitzroy Gardens have a long history of over 150 years, few other capital cities can boast such a significant garden so close to the City's centre. As crown land the City of Melbourne are the custodians to preserve and oversee this magnificent garden, visited by over 2 million local, interstate and international visitors each year, it is one of the major attractions in Melbourne.
Fairy Trees in Fitzroy Gardens
 One of the greatest attractions for children is situated in the Fitzroy Gardens - Ola Cohn's Fairies Tree, comprising a series of lovely carvings on the stump of one of the original Red Gum trees in the Fitzroy Gardens, well over 300 years in age.

From 1931 to May 1934 - Victoria's Centenary Year - Miss Cohn worked on the delightful likenesses of fairies, dwarfs, gnomes, a marvelous jackass, koalas, flying foxes and a host of typical Australian animals and birds. She used all the natural irregularities and curves to transform the tree trunk into a thing of beauty.

Her intentions are best described in the foreword to her book, "The Fairies Tree", inscribed on the tree's plaque :

"I have carved in a tree in the Fitzroy Gardens for you, and the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who believe in them, for they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy sanctuary - a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living creatures."

The carvings were done years after the death of the tree and so the problem of the trunk's preservation presented a problem. In 1977, the trunk was extracted from the ground for chemical treatment and the removal of rotted wood, and during the process, a mummified brush tail possum over 40 years old was found perfectly preserved within the trunk. The tree was remounted on a concrete base to prolong its life.
 They also explored Cook’s cottage in the Gardens.  The Cottage originally stood on an extremity of the village of Great Ayton, Yorkshire. Cook's father who had gone to Great Ayton from Marton to be a "hind" or bailiff on Thomas Skottowe's farm, Airey Holme, either built, rebuilt or bought it in 1755.
Cook's Cottage - Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne
From the date 1755 and the initials (those of James and Grace, Cook's mother and father) over the doorway which is apparently older than the rest of the cottage, it would seem that the cottage was rebuilt, and not originally built by Cook's father when he bought it.

The original thatched cottage in which Cook was born at Marton-in-Cleveland was demolished in 1786 and so the Great Ayton family cottage is the only concrete historical link we have with Captain Cook's origins.

In 1933, the last owner of the cottage, Mrs. Dixon put the cottage up for sale and it was suggested that it would make an ideal focus piece for Victoria's centenary in 1934. The prominent Melbournian Russell Grimwade agreed to buy the cottage and present it as a gift to the Victorian people. However, a difficulty arose in that the patriotic Mrs. Dixon had stipulated that cottage should remain in Britain. She had rejected offers from wealthy Americans for this reason, but she was persuaded to accede to Victoria's claim on the cottage as Australia was, after all, still "in the Empire".

The cottage was purchased by Russell Grimwade in 1933, dismantled, and shipped to Melbourne in 253 packing cases, arriving April, 1934. As the cottage structure had been altered considerably by a succession of owners following the Cook family's occupation, its Australian assemblers had the task of restoring the cottage as accurately as research and guess work would permit to its mid 18th century appearance.

A site in the Fitzroy Gardens was selected to complement the cottage with its large shady European trees and the construction work was completed in six months. The cottage was handed over to the Lord Mayor, H. Gengoult Smith by Russell Grimwade on the 15th October, 1934 during a centenary ceremony.

The cottage has undergone two restorations. The first was undertaken in the late 1950's and the most recent in 1978, when a thorough effort was made to investigate and restore the building, furnish it with material appropriate to the period, and surround it with a garden of eighteenth century character.
Dan ended up catching the train home whilst the others biked home… We had a pretty chilled out night at home with Dan and Chloe cooking Apricot Pizza for dinner before finally taking us back to our caravan….

Their speciality - Apricot Chicken Pizza for our last night in Melbourne
So thankful that we will be seeing them in a few weeks time.  This really has been a very special holiday with them and I love them to bits…


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