Forty-five minutes from Melbourne, the Dandenong Ranges beckons with its towering ash trees and fern gullies, quaint villages and popular attractions like the historic Puffing Billy steam engine and the panoramic views from SkyHigh atop Mount Dandenong. Each Spring, the Dandenong Ranges which forms part of the heart of Victoria's horticultural community, bloom with vibrant colours.
The setting of Tesselaar gardens are filled with rows upon rows of Tulips for the annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival, which celebrates Spring in the area with a month of family and flower-related events and transforms the garden into a mini-Holland.
For readers who may not be aware, these cultivated blooms were the pleasure of the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire and a symbol of wealth and prestige since 1500s. The first tulip festival was held in Turkey way back in the 1700s although most of us associate the tulip with the Dutch and Holland. The Dutch only started to grow tulips in the 1700s.
1939, Dutch couple Cees and Johanna Tesselaar arrived in the Dandenong Ranges and brought along their tulip bulbs from Holland. Since the 1950s, their efforts to grow tulips attracted other Dutch immigrants to work at their farm and later open new farms that developed this little piece of Holland.
I paid a visit to the Tesselaar farm as they prepared to welcome visitors for the Festival with rows of new tulip blooms, sculptures from the Association of Sculptors of Victoria and different activities every week:
If you are planning to visit, don't bother joining the queue at the farm gate. Buy your tickets online a www.tulipfestival.com.au/tickets/. Concession is AUD15. Adults pay AUD18 while children under 16 years accompanying adults are free.