Botanic Gardens – Not Just a Pretty Picnic Spot

Been to the Botanic Gardens Lately? It’s more than just a nice spot to
catch up with a gathbotanic-gardensering, there’s a variety of activities on offer for young and old. Here’s a sampling of what’s available or for more information head to their website

Botanical illustration beginners workshop with Mali Moir 

This intensive four-day course provides an introduction to botanical art via pencil and watercolour. Students will begin to develop skills in outline drawing, foreshortening, tonal work, rendering of surfaces, basic colour work and paint application.
The cost of the course includes equipment to be used during the workshop – drawing materials, paint, watercolour paper and brushes.

Suitable for adults and teenagers. Presented by the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
botanical-gardens-watercolourMonday 11 to Thursday 14 July
10am to 4pm each day

Whirling Room Studio, GMT Building
Melbourne Gardens
Getting Here

$399 adult
$342 Friends’ members
Bookings / Enquiries

T 03 9650 6398

Bookings required, cancellation and refund policy applies.
Book online at or by telephoning the Friends’ office.

Plant Craft Cottage Demonstration Days

Watch and ask questions as members of the working groups demonstrate their plant craft skills.

Presented by the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne at the Plant Craft Cottage.

basketryNatural Dye – Wednesday 6 July
Pot Pourri – Friday 8 July
Fibre – Tuesday 12 July
Basketry – Wednesday 20 July
Plant Card – Thursday 21 July
Natural Dye – Wednesday 3 August
Fibre – Tuesday 9 August
Pot Pourri – Friday 12 August
Basketry – Wednesday 17 August
Plant Card – Thursday 18 August

When: 10.30am to 2pm
Where: Plant Craft Cottage near H gate Melbourne Gardens
Cost: FREE

Children’s Garden

botanic_childrens_gardenThe Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is the perfect place for kids who love getting their hands dirty in the garden. There’s lots of fun places to explore including the Ruin Garden, the Meeting Place (which has a water feature that sprays up out of the ground in summer!), a Wetland Area, Bamboo Forest, The Gorge, Plant Tunnel, Kitchen Garden (full of yummy vegetables!) and The Rill (a gentle waterway that runs through the Garden).

The Children’s Garden is an interactive educational environment in which children of all ages, backgrounds, physical abilities and cultures can play, explore and discover the natural world. It features plants, water, structures and pathways that reflect Melbourne’s changing seasons. The garden has been designed to intrigue, teach and excite children from a very young age about the importance of conservation and the environment. It is scaled specifically for children to create a sense of ownership, care and responsibility for the environment.

Plenty to explore in and around the Children’s Garden with our ’50 things for kids to do’ checklist (PDF – 1.82 kB) or pick up a free copy at the Visitor Centre. The Children’s Garden is accessible to anybody including wheelchair users, visitors with walking frames and parents with prams.childrens-garden-activities

The Children’s Garden is closed for its annual rest from Monday 11 July and will reopen on Saturday 3 September. Each year the Children’s Garden takes a break in winter for regular maintenance and restoration for eight weeks following the end of July school holidays.

Open 10am–sunset Wednesday–Sunday and public holidays; 10am–sunset seven days a week during Victorian State School holidays. Closed to the public Monday–Tuesday during Victorian State School terms for booked school groups only
Rill (stream): 10am–4pm daily
Spiral fountains: 10am–4pm on days when the temperature is forecast to exceed 25 degrees. The fountains do not operate when the forecast is less than 25 degrees.

Healesville Sanctuary

What animal lover doesn’t love cute spring animal babies?

There’s no better time to visit Healesville Sanctuary than these spring holidays! With adorable ducklings, waddling baby wombats and Rascal the baby kangaroo joey, just for starters, you and your family are sure to be

And of course there’s a variety of other favourite exhibits and shows;

Spirits of the Sky show daily at 12pm and 2pm, showcasing magnificent birds of prey; eagles, owls and parrots in flight.wteagle

Tales from Platypus Creek is a show held daily at 11:15am and additionally at 1:30pm on weekends.  See Platypus in a unique riverside tank environment in their brand new amphitheatre. Observe Platypus as they interact with keepers, play in the water and even enjoy having their tummies tickled! As seats are limited it is recommended you arrive 15 minutes early.

Cool Conservation gives visitors the chance to see breeding programs in action for two of our threatened alpine species; the Mountain Pygmy-possum and Southern Corroboree Frog. To find this alpine conservation space you need to wander through an aviary with two of Australia’s most critically endangered bird species – the Helmeted Honeyeater and Orange-bellied Parrot! And if you catch the 11am Keeper Talk you can see them right up close as they fly down for a nectar treat!

With other highlights including Animals of the Night, Future Vets, Extinction Headquarters, Lunars Secret Forest and Nature Play.

A thoroughly enjoyable day trip to Healesville just over an hour out of Melbourne, with admission free for children under 16 all holidays, it’s bound to be a great day out for the whole family.

More information

This months Business Coaching Feature, Part 2

Stuart Hayes Leadership
Stuart Hayes offers free business planning consultations to entrepreneurs looking to improve the performance of their business, particularly in developing functional and accountable leaders in your business. You can apply for a free two hour business coaching session on his website.

Stuart Hayes Leadership is locally based in Port Melbourne. Stuart is an ex CEO Mr Fix it for top business consulting firms where his role was to go into ailing businesses and get them profitable. This makes his background quite unique among business coaches. His coaching is known for its practical approach, which is tailored to the individual circumstances of each business.

Stuarts Google+ page
Stuart’s Facebook page

We recently interviewed Stuart as part of our feature on business coaching

We asked Stuart the following question: With economists forecasting uncertain economic times, the global economy still remaining fragile and the situation in China uncertain, what do you think are the top concerns business leaders should be considering?

Stuart: Based on my experience, I would say that one of the most important things business leaders should be considering is adapting to the changing circumstances of new market conditions. To do that properly business owner should be looking closely at the impact of economic conditions on the fundamentals of their business. If at all unsure about the impacts of coming changes, remember hope is not a strategy! A failure to adapt to circumstances is one of the most common reasons businesses find themselves in trouble. My advice is to reach out for help from someone you can  work with, someone independent, as quickly as possible.
The quality of the outcomes you achieve in business is always proportional to the quality of the questions you ask and the first question you need to ask yourself is, “Is my fundamental approach still the right one?” Ideally you should look for a mentor or coach you feel you can trust, someone who has stood in your shoes and can help you see what’s really going on and what you need to do next.

Stuart also runs a podcast on developing leadership skills in your career called Careers Unplugged and it’s one of the leading podcasts in business development in Australia.

An amazing good time in Ashcombe Maze

What can be more fun than a real life three dimensional hedge maze?
Adults and children alike enjoy the challenge of finding their way around the mazes at Ashcombe.

hedgemaze1Located in Shoreham on the Mornington Peninsula, Ashcombe Maze boasts the oldest hedge maze (over 40 years old) in Victoria and the fragrant lavender and rose mazes are equally delightful and surprisingly more challenging than they might first appear.

The Ashcombe Garden Discovery Trail is a self-guided tour that explores kilometers of meandering gardens. Ashcombe Maze is home to acres of Woodland Gardens with a number of features: the Orchard, the Rock Garden, the Scented Garden, the Herb Barrels, the Small Woodland,  the Lily Pond, the Koala Food Trees and Lake Ashcombe to name a few.

hedgemazeaerialThere are other activities ideal to help fill in the school holidays such as the Great Gnome Hunt where children are armed with a clipboard and a pencil and an answer sheet to record where they find the many gnomes and fairies. Everyone that has a go receives a small lolly prize.

The Ashcombe Maze Café features Ashcombe’s harvested lavender in a number of menu items all made on site; lavender scones, lavender ice-cream, and lavender tea blends (green, chamomile and black).
All menu items are home made on the premises – featuring produce from the Ashcombe culinary garden.
The Mornington Peninsula is one-hour drive southeast from Melbourne. 
This picturesque region is surrounded by sea on three sides, with Port Phillip Bay to the east, Westernport Bay to the west and Bass Strait to the south.

boyinmazeOpen daily, 8am – 5pm

15 Shoreham Road, Shoreham 3916 Mel Ref: 256 E4

Family 2 child (2 Adults & 2 Children) $52.00

Ice skating or circus? Why not both at once?

Get your skates on for lots of fun this spring holidays!

What could be more fun than an ice skating rink combined with

  • a big top,
  • clowns,
  • magicians,
  • face painting
  • plus games and prizes?

Well, I don’t know either, but it’s all happening this school holidays at Medibank Icehouse!

All the extra activities are scheduled for between 11am and 3pm every day in the holidays.

And if you haven’t learned to skate on ice yet, that’s ok, as an experienced ice ambassador will teach you all the basics you need to know in a 15 minute free skating lesson, including how to get moving, how to turn and slow down and also how to fall down safely.

All these activities plus skate hire is included in the cost of general admission,
Adults $26 and children 6-14 $22.

Only five minutes from the city, Medibank Icehouse is located off Footscray Rd, Docklands, and easily accessible via tram, train or car.

This month we are doing a feature on Business Coaches

Melbourne is, along with Sydney, Australia’s leading commerce and business centres. We have produced some of the world’s best businessmen, including Rupert Murdoch (whatever you may think of him).

There is a strong culture of business and executive coaching in corporate Australia and this month we are going to review a few of the leading coaching firms. In our review we will look to tell you about what’s unique in their approaches, what kinds of training they offer and why you might want to check them out.

Executive Coaching – Gwyder Consulting Group

Gwyder Consulting is run by Kerry Little. He is an accredited coach with the Marshall Goldsmith Global Executive Coaching Organisation. Gwyder specialise in a form of executive coaching called behavioural coaching. Which features the Stake Holder Centred Leadership methodology made famous by New York Times bestselling author, Marshall Goldsmith.

In fact the effectiveness of Stakeholder Centred Coaching was categorically proven when a comprehensive study among 11,000 business leaders in 8 multinational companies on 4 continents concluded that 95% of leaders who consistently applied Stakeholder Centred Coaching measurably improved their leadership effectiveness.

Kerry Little recently released a free executive coaching report designed to introduce business leaders to some of the key distinctions that underpin Stakeholder Centred Coaching.

Speaking at the launch, Little said “The reason Stakeholder Centred Coaching works is because the focus is on identifying and measuring the effects a person’s leadership style has on the performance of their people, which is the single most critical influencing effect a leader can have on productivity. The key is shifting the focus onto the skills of leadership, rather than the skills of the leader himself.”

“The free online course I’m launching today introduces executives to this paradigm shift, via an easy to implement online program that they can complete in a relatively small amount of time, I’m talking as little as 20 to 40 minutes a week, over just three weeks” said Mr Little.

“This makes trying behavioural coaching a ‘no brainer’ because the time investment is so small, and there’s no cost, so there’s no barrier!”

At the end of the program participants get a comprehensive debrief to help them identify the key things they learned, and how they can easily implement them and become a more effective leader.

To register for the free course, or obtain more information about behavioural coaching or Stakeholder Centred Leadership, visit

Melbourne’s Luna Park

Boasting two brand new rides, Luna Park holds the promise of a great day out with the whole family, a sure winner for dusting off Melbourne’s winter blues and enjoying the spring holidays. Overlooking the famous Port Phillip Bay, Luna Park has blunapark1een a renowned family destination for more than one hundred years.

With many rides to choose from including the classic Dodgem cars, the scenic railway with great views over St.Kilda and the bay and the two new rides- Wave Rider and Fantasy Flyer, there’ll be something fun to do from morning to night.

The Park is open during the spring holidays Thursday to Saturday from 11am to 11pm and on Sundays to Wednesdays from 11am to 8pm.lunapark

During the school holidays take advantage of the family unlimited rides offer for only $149.95 which includes unlimited rides for two people aged 13 and over plus two people between the ages of 4 – 12. Other family ticketing options are available, for more details or to purchase tickets online go to

Great family value at Phillip Island

Spring is the best time to visit Phillip Islands attractions. With many things to see and do and only an hour and a half’s drive from Melbourne, there’s a great array of fun and affordable activities to enjoy this spring school holidays.

Churchill Island Heritage Farm
churchillislandChurchill Island was the site of the first farm in Victoria and its pioneering history is still evident today. It’s a great place to explore some of Victorias heritage and tranquil scenery. You can see the old homestead (listed by the National Trust) as it was in it’s day and experience daily heritage farming activities including cow milking, sheep shearing and working dogs demonstrations.

See the spring baby animals, meet the likes of Max the Clydesdale horse, Lucy the goose, the peacock, the highland cattle and others as you explore the farm grounds and its gardens which surrounded by the bay, are quite picturesque.

During School and Public holidays you can also enjoy a wagon ride.

Open 10am to 5pm daily
Daily farming activities:

1.00-1.45churchillislandridepm         wagon rides (school and public holidays only, weather permitting )
2.10pm                 cow milking
2.30pm                 sheep shearing
2.45pm                 whip cracking
3.05pm                 Working dogs
3.20pm                 Sheep shearing


Penguin Parade
Experience the magic of little penguins returning home at sunset to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia.

Penguins arrive at sunset. Penguin Parade duration is 50 minutes from the time the first penguin crosses the beach. The operators request you arrive 1 hour prior to penguin arrival time and provide a Penguin Arrival Calendar to help you work out the right time to be there.

They’ve also introduced a free smartphone and tablet app for you to download which is a great way to discover more about the penguins, including burrow cam, image gallery, games and individual penguin statistics straight to your device the moment a penguin crosses a research weighbridge.

Located 90 minutes drive from Melbourne, and 20 minutes from the bridge to Phillip Island. The Penguin Parade is accessible for prams and wheelchairs. No photography is permitted at the Penguin Parade to protect the penguins.

While you’re there you can also explore the rugged coastline along the cliff top boardwalks at the free Nobbies Centre and look for the Australian fur seals and migrating whales.

Koala Conservation Centre
Come ‘face to face’ with koalas in their natural habitat. Explore the treetop boardwalks and stroll through the woodlands, home to many animals including wallabies, echidnas, bats and birds.

Koala Conservation Centre open 10am to 5pm daily.

3 Parks Pass
Penguin Parade, Churchill Island Heritage Farm & Koala Conservation Centre
Select your Penguin Parade date of visit when purchasing the 3 Parks Pass. Entry to the Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island Heritage Farm is valid for six months from the Penguin Parade visit date.
Family (2A+2C) $104.00


Wild Oceans EcoBoat tours

Two great options are available on the Wild Oceans EcoBoat tours:

EcoBoat Express (1hr):
Includes Seal Rocks, the Nobbies and Cat Bay. The fastest tour to Seal Rocks gives you more time at Australia’s largest fur seal colony. Watch the antics of playful seals as they surround the boat, ducking their heads in and out of the water. Return via the famous Nobbies landmark and Cat Bay National Surfing Reserve, famous for its longboard break. Operates year round and departs daily from either Cowes or Rhyll jetty.
Family (2A+2C) $235.00

Combine your EcoBoat Express tour with a 3 Parks Pass for discounted entry to the Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre and Churchill Island Heritage Farm
Family (2A+2C) $328.60

EcoBoat Adventure (1.5hrs):
Operates seasonally – this tour operates between the first Sunday in October and the first Sunday in April only.
Includes Seal Rocks, the Nobbies, Summerland Peninsula cliffs and the Nobbies blowhole, plus Cat Bay on the return journey. Get up close with Australia’s largest fur seal colony, discover the Aboriginal and European history of the area and get a unique and exciting view of the Nobbies blowhole carved into the cliffs by thousands of years of explosive wave action.

With over 20 years of experience, our operator and ranger guides are experts at finding seals, whales, dolphins, penguins and other seabirds. Seating up to 47 people and operating year round, our world-class RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) is also equipped with underwater cameras, giving you the best views above and below the water.

EcoBoat tours depart daily from Cowes jetty or Rhyll jetty (weather and tide may affect departure location).

To book, visit or phone +61 3 5951 2800.


National Rhododendron Gardens Spring Colour

If you and your family love beautiful flowers then head up to the national Rhododendron gardens in Olinda for a visual feast this spring.

With a lot of flowers just ready to bloom there’s no better way to celebrate the coming of the warmer weather than to spend a day in the Dandenongs and enjoy a picnic on the Cherry Tree Lawn.

rhododendrongardensEnjoy a self-guided tour, strolling through 40 hectares of scenic botanic gardens or a picnic by the lake and take in stunning views of the Australian Alps. Alternatively, there is an option for visitors to the garden to enjoy a 25 minute non-stop guided tour on the Garden Explorer Bus on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays only from 15 September through to 6 November

Exploring the gardens:

During the Spring Floral Festival held annually from August to November visitors can enjoy a series of undercover floral displays, including the largest undercover display of daffodils in the Southern Hemisphere. Photographers delight in an abundance of native birdlife, brilliant floral scenery and majestic surrounds and backdrop.

The gardens are enhanced by the beauty of the surrounding natural environment. Tall Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) provide a magnificent vertical accent to the gardens. Mountain Ash are the tallest flowering trees in the world.

Magnificent views overlook Silvan Reservoir, the Yarra Valley, Warburton Ranges and Mount Baw Baw. Many species of birds and animals frequent rhodogardensthe gardens. The resident lyrebirds may occasionally be seen or heard.

Take your time and enjoy all of the constantly changing vistas of the gardens, or if you would prefer, take a shorter walk to specific area of the gardens.

Should you decide to walk the entire Gardens (a round trip of approximately 5km) you will encounter some steeper grades.

The friendly staff at the Gift Shop at the Main Entrance will be delighted to advise and direct you to areas of the gardens that most interest you.

The garden has a gatehouse, gazebos, grassed picnic areas and toilet facilities for people with limited mobility.


  • Café Vireya is currently closed but is available for large group bookings.
  • There are picnic tables on the Cherry Tree Lawn.

Gifts and things to take home:

A plant nursery operates selling a wide variety of plants including rhododendrons. There is a gardens giftshop stocking a wide range of gifts including limited edition prints, gardening books and garden ornaments.

Hours and Entry:rhgardens
Free Entry
The National Rhododendron Gardens are open 10.00am to 5.00pm daily (last entry 4.30pm)

For enquiries please contact Parks Victoria on 13 1963.