A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published February 18th 2014
Luxury on the Lake
Picture this - a perfect Melbourne summer day, warm but not hot, with a blue, blue sky, and barely a breeze rustling the trees. It's an ideal day to do just about anything outdoors, but I was fortunate enough to be on a punt tour of the Ornamental Lake in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens, offered by Punt Tours Melbourne.
This is a wonderful activity, and something that I'd imagine just about anyone would enjoy.
The punts are flat-bottomed, square-nosed vessels of a solid timber construction, built with Australian timbers (mainly Jarrah and Victorian Ash). Each is 8 metres long and weighs 320 kg. They are propelled by boatmen in outfits that hark back to the English tradition of punting - blazers and boater hats.
Umbrellas and blankets are available if the weather's less favourable
There are three punts, each comfortably seating eight people, with room to stretch one's legs. They are fitted with plush red velvet cushions on the seats. The lake tour goes for about 30 minutes, and there is commentary throughout about interesting features around the lake, as well as information on the natural flora and fauna.
The views from lake level were beautiful, and it certainly does give a different perspective of the gardens.
View towards Government House
A punt tour for two could be a romantic thing to do; apparently marriage proposals on board are not uncommon. It would also be a great activity for a visitor to Melbourne, taking in a tour of the gardens and the nearby Shrine of Remembrance as well.
View from the punt
The cost for a 30 minute tour is $25 for an adult, $12 for a child (5-12 years, infants free) or $70 for a family (two adults and up to three children). As I was there with a group, we had been able to negotiate a slightly better rate in advance.
I had no difficulty finding street parking in Birdwood Ave (metered parking up to 4 hours, $1.70 per hour). Alexandra Ave is another option.
It's difficult not to reminisce about Venice and its gondolas as one glides around the lake. But Melbourne, and its Botanic Gardens, have a charm all of their own.