As many of you would know, we usually travel with our kids. So the decision to visit the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden was met with a less-than enthusiastic reception… “Mum! A garden? Really? Boring! Do we have to?” As it turns out, yes… they did have to! And thanks to meeting the most wonderful man, the kids had to eat their words because we all had a good time. It was fun, even!
Rhododendron Garden: Riding in Style
When we arrived at the Rhododendron Garden, one of the volunteers came to greet us. His name was Frank, and like the others on duty that day, he was a real gem. He took one look at their glum faces, and led the kids to his secret weapon… a buggy! Frank drew the line at letting them drive, but he made our trip around the grounds very enjoyable.
A Garden for All Seasons
You can visit the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden at any time of the year and still see flowers. We went back in February when we were in the region for the Burnie International tennis tournament. Some of the photos (the good ones!) have been shared with Think Tasmania by the organisation to show a variety of seasons.
We should’ve published this article sooner, because we’d definitely recommend a visit. In our paltry defence though, we have so many great Tasmanian places to share with you, we sometimes get distracted. The opportunity hasn’t been wasted, though. In fact, with spring in the air, it might be even more appropriate timing. As I write this, it’s an absolutely glorious day; I wish I could replicate the warm weather and gentle breeze online. But pictures of rhododendron flowers will have to do.
Last week we published an article from Anelda Lotter Photography about the Tasmanian Royal Botanical Gardens in Hobart. Everyone loved it, and many people commented that a trip to the gardens was long overdue. I’m pretty sure the restaurant will need more supplies of red velvet cake! Hopefully these pictures will inspire a visit to the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden as well.
Award-winning Rhododendron Garden Community
A non-profit community organisation is responsible for the development and maintenance of the award-winning garden. What they have been able to achieve as a group of rhododendron enthusiasts is nothing short of amazing. People visit from all around the world to marvel at the unique design of the 11ha garden, showcasing over 22,000 rhododendrons and other plants.
The area has been enhanced with walking tracks, lakes, bridges and leafy arbours adorned with flowers. The volunteers have replicated international scenes to represent the country of origin of the wild rhododendron plants. Wildlife, including platypus, echidna and a diverse variety of birds make the garden habitat their home. There’s also substantial facilities for tourists, including a tea room which overlooks the magical scenery.
Saving the Rhododendron from Extinction
Frank was very proud to inform us that the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden is classified as a plant museum. The work of the garden’s volunteers in Tasmania is helping save many species of rhododendron that might otherwise disappear forever.
Frank also raised the concern that many of the volunteers are elderly. As they retire from work commitments, they spend more time at the rhododendron garden. But then as they age further, they are less able to perform the physical tasks involved with gardening. It’s a popular Tasmanian treasure that needs the support of the council, the government and the local community in order to continue. It would be such a shame to see the hard work of so many dedicated people go to waste.
Gardens, Waterfalls and Whisky
We combined our visit to the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden with a trip to Guide Falls, which is a bit further up the road toward Ridgley from Burnie. Being a glorious, hot day, the kids decided to take a dip under the waterfall…. in their undies, as they do! Gavin also took a dip, but his was totally accidental and resulted in a smashed and soggy mobile phone. We topped off the day with a late lunch at Hellyers Road Distillery on the way back, before making our way to the tennis final.
And I’m happy to report that a good day was had by all.
Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden via Burnie
The garden is very easy to access, only 8kms from the centre of Burnie. A visit will set you back $8.00 and there’s no charge for any kids you can convince to go with you. They’re open from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily and you can phone ahead on (03) 6433 1805 if you have any questions. You can also check out the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden website for more information.
Thanks to Lorraine McNeair for arranging the extra photos for this article.
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