The trip to Cranbourne Gardens was partially as inspiration for one of my university projects, however upon arrival it was obvious that it was to be more than a mere educational trip. Getting there was the difficult part, especially if you are travelling by public transport. We ended up catching a train to Cranbourne station and a taxi from there. The taxi ride costs approximately $16 one-way. Also make sure that they take you right into the Australian Garden unless you are up for a very long walk and adventure.
The Cranbourne gardens is a large native bushland area and we caught a glimpse of it since we were very 'clever' and decided to get dropped off at the Cranbourne Garden's entrance instead of being driven straight through to the Australian Garden. On a hot day with the weight of a DSLR and a picnic basket, it was quite a workout. After marching on bravely past many koala and wombat road signs, interesting places for camwhoring, and the scattered bones of an unidentified creature, we finally saw the welcoming sight of the Australian Garden.
This unique garden boasts 170,000 individual native plant species with more than 1,700 plant varieties. For those with an interest in landscaping, native plants, or just plants in general this is presumably something similar to heaven. Beautifully set out into different sections such as Gondwana garden, Arid Garden, Gibson Hill, etc. it is a playground for explorers of all ages. My favourite part of the gardens was the creative layout that made the whole experience more exciting with a fresh look for each different section. Meandering paths, timber pavilions, water bodies with giant metal lily pads all added to the atmosphere of this unique garden.
Also a fun way to get around the gardens is the Garden Explorer. At $5 ($4 for concession) it is fully worth it. The little train-like vehicle carries visitors through the different parts of the garden whilst the friendly drivers give a running commentary. It is also a nice way to see the gardens before setting off on foot and exploring it. It will give you an overall sense of where everything is and also give a chance to rest your weary feet.
For the more hard-core garden enthusiasts 'Flora Australis' is a good option. It is a guided tour that explains in detail the stories and facts of Australian plants and their interaction with people. These tours depart daily at either 1pm or 2pm and are very cost effective at $6.50 for adults and $5.50 for concession or children. At the same price the 'Plants for your place' tour is one that is catered for those who are looking for a few tips about to how to grow your own native bush land. This tour will help pick out plants that are suited for home gardens. There will be several seasonal walks and tours apart from these available. If interested just have a chat with the nice people at the visitor centre to see your options. For those who dared to take public transport they will also help you call a taxi to the train station.
It is also a good place for a family outing. The kids will love the well thought out garden setting. There is also a playground and picnic area. This is a great place to enjoy the bushland while having a barbeque or picnic. There are also 6 kilometres of bicycle track through the native woodlands for the whole family to enjoy. Wading at the rockpool waterway in the gardens is also a fun way to chill out on a summer day.