Above: Tuberous begonias in the Conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens

Melbourne's Fitzroy Gardens

As much as I enjoy pounding the city streets, ducking into intriguing shops and discovering new restaurants, I also welcome the occasional respite. In Melbourne, we found tranquility in verdant Fitzroy Gardens. Right at the eastern end of the central business district, this 64-acre oasis provides blissful relief from the urban bustle with serene pathways, a collection of mature trees, a water garden and a beautiful conservatory.

To my great surprise, the gardens also hold a remarkable attraction: the original home of the parents of the great 18th-century English explorer Captain James Cook. A gift to the city in 1934 to mark the centenary of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne, the house was brought stone by carefully marked stone from its original site in Great Ayton, Yorkshire, England. Period furniture fills the house, and one can readily appreciate that Cook, after years in cramped conditions at sea, would find this a pleasant place to visit. A must for Cook admirers like me is the small but fascinating information center adjacent to the house, which clearly shows all of his momentous voyages and details his many world-changing discoveries.

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