Conservatory, Melbourne

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  • Conservatory
    by Sajt
  • Conservatory in Fitzroy Gardens
    Conservatory in Fitzroy Gardens
    by iandsmith
  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    Conservatory, Fairies Tree and Cook's cottage

    by iandsmith Updated May 17, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Located in Fitzroy Gardens - 26.1 hectares (or 35 and even over 40 if you believe other sites) of lush parkland at the northern end of the CBD and also the resting place of Melbourne's earliest pioneers.
    This is a shot of the statue of Diana the Huntress outside the Conservatory.
    Depicting Diana, the goddess of mood and contemplation and two hounds, this full-length bronze sculpture replaced a cement statue copied from 'Diana' held in the Vatican.
    William Leslie Bowles was the maker and A.B Brunton of London the founder.
    It was erected in a pool in front of Conservatory at a cost of 750 pounds and unveiled by Lord Mayor Cr Coles on September 4, 1940. The lily pond was constructed especially for this work.
    Then there's Captain Cook's Cottage. Captain Cook, for those of you who don't know, was one of the great explorers of the 18th century. On his third major voyage around the world he was speared to death by natives in Hawaii.
    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.
    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.
    It actually is only a stone's throw from the Conservatory.
    A Melbourne showpiece, Fitzroy Gardens boasts other historic and botanic treasures apart from the flower-filled conservatory. It also has a 150-year-old avenue of magnificent elms, a miniature Tudor village and a fairy tree.

    Fondest memory: One of the greatest attractions for children (let's be honest, and parents!) is the Fairies' Tree - Ola Cohn's Fairies Tree to be specific, comprising a series of lovely coloured 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.
    The council currently is very concerned about the leaving of money at the tree as it is causing damage, however slowly, and is the sugject of a hot debate.
    Access is gained from Lansdowne Street, Clarendon Street and Wellington Parade.

    Conservatory in Fitzroy Gardens
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Family Travel
    • National/State Park

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  • Sajt's Profile Photo

    Conservatory in Melbourne

    by Sajt Written Oct 20, 2002

    Favorite thing: If you like flowers just visit the Conservatory. Looks great inside. I did some pictures in the Conservatory traveloque.


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