The Spring Flower Festival of Silvan

Is it coincidence, or simply careful planning by the seasons, that there are an abundance of tulips ready to view and appreciate in Silvan come the September school holiday period?

How is it, that it is so perfectly timed? Tulips are planted before the colder months, and Spring-time seekers, (and those on school holidays) get to reap the rewards of the superbly bulbed flower?

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I have wanted to go to the Tesselaar Tulip Festival for a long time. I was fascinated by the story of the couple from Holland by the surname Tesselaar, and how they had planted tulips in their Silvan property long after first settling in Melbourne, after the outbreak of World War 2.

 

It is a common story to me, at least, the background is. A couple with a dream, a wish for a better life and hope for the future, leave their homeland behind to find opportunity elsewhere… my parents did this too, only they didn’t end up with hundreds of thousands of tulips across a 25-acre property, with tourists traveling from far and wide to witness their floral beauty!

It is certainly a fairy tale story. The couple’s acreage attracted so many passersby over the years, that they eventually opened their farm to eager eyes for a coin donation… it has evolved to the huge floral attraction that it is today, with people travelling from all over the country (I saw the interstate license plates with my own eyes!) to see the tulips in wondrous bloom.

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Baby girl and I attended the tulip festival in the first week of the school holidays, and it coincided with the ‘superhero week!’ What is ‘superhero week’ you may ask? Well all I can ascertain is that PJ Masks were in town, and they got them on board plus added in a few more kiddie activities to make it ‘superhero’-like!

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The great thing about this festival, is that it is so versatile. Superhero week becomes ‘Get Active’ week (Mon 1st – Thurs 4th October), and the weekends have their own special themes, with the one just passed being the ‘Food Wine and Jazz weekend,’ and the next one (Fri 5th – Sun 7th October) being the Irish Weekend.

There is sooo much to do, and it ain’t all tulips either. As already noted, the event occurs over the school holidays, though it is longer than two weeks, and as an adult visiting with kids, you can be assured they will be kept busy! The main stages have constantly-changing entertainment, there are roving princesses, workshops where you can create sand art, learn how to drum… then there are reptile displays, a petting zoo, face painters, and did I mention, the tractor ride?

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Check out my SmikG facebook page for the super-cool video. Hey, as the tractor jumped forward in its start-up around the expansive tulip field, even the adults shrieked in giddy excitement alongside the kids. True story. It probably fits about, oh, 20 people, and lasts all of 5 minutes, if that much, as it does an upside down U shape around the field. It is a heap of fun, the kids could have cared less as we went past the tulips, instead getting excited by the open-air and opportunity to wave at other tulip-viewers outside of the tractor, and meanwhile the adults just took it all in, appreciating the beauty, and revelling in the happy shouts of glee from their offspring.

You HAVE TO DO IT!

Toilets, food and drink are a plenty. Dutch-style cuisine, of Poffertjes, or as you and I may call them, ‘mini pancakes,’ are a must, and The Kibbeling Express, a Dutch-themed fish and chip shop also prominently features in the grounds. But never fear, if none of that tickles your fancy, there are your other cuisines, of Mac and cheese, hamburgers, scones, gozleme, spuds, and of course…

ICE CREAM!

:):):)

It was a wonderfully lazy and self-indulgent 20 minutes or so that baby girl and I spent licking our cones and cups in the sun.

There are opportunities to buy souvenirs, take home gardening tools, purchase your own seedlings, and did I mention the potted tulips?

I bought a pot for myself to take home, and actually have repotted them with purpose… to have them last a long time. I got a small leaflet with some tips on how best to keep them going on, but any decent gardening blog online will give you similar tips on extending the tulips life.

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The fairy shop is another cute place for the kids to enjoy, with little unicorns and fairy paraphernalia decorating the walls of the store. Just try leaving this place with your girl empty-handed. I know, as we now own a magical glittery pen.

:/

The effects of keeping your child entertained while on holiday, I know.

And, the whole reason for going, the ‘piece de resistance’ if you will, of the actual event?

Why, the Tulips of course.

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They surround the festival, however the major drawcard sits amidst the large field with rows upon rows of different coloured bulbs. A large windmill sits at the far end of the field, and various works of art are spotted throughout, to provide your eye with an alternative to the wondrous colour before you… not like you need it, but it is nice to take a break and look at something else interesting.

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This festival is huge, so take precaution when deciding when to go. The cars just keep coming, there are parking people organising where you can park, and then depending on what time you arrive and where you have parked, there will most likely be a short walk for you to make, so if with littlies that get easily bored or tired, you may need to take a pram (or your shoulders will feel the weight!)

By no means should any of this dissuade you – it is a festival for both young and old, with plenty to do and see that will interest people of ALL ages! In my eyes, it is actually a pretty perfect family day out 🙂

 

The deets!

The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is a September – October annual event, coinciding with the bloom of the flowers (and the school holidays!) Check their website for actual dates and theme-specific weeks and weekends.

https://tulipfestival.com.au/

Their address is 357-359 Monbulk Road Silvan.

It runs every day for about a month of the festival’s duration.

Getting there by car takes some time if you’re from Melbourne or even on the other side of it… but once you are in the Dandenong Ranges, man it is a beautifully scenic drive. You could easily make a day of it, or two or three (or a mini-break!) as there are some quaint and exquisite village-like places that you travel through to get there… Sassafras, Kallista, Monbulk… You could be forgiven for wanting to stop about 6 times before reaching your destination, so tranquil and serene is your drive and environment. The views are always so magical in the Ranges, and the day we drove there I had to contain my excitement and nostalgia in going through parts of the world that I had visited with Hubbie many times before, as I have by myself too.

Prices:

Adults are $28, Concession holders are $24, and Children 16 and under are Free!

(Which is why it is such a kid-happy place!)

RULES

Yes, I even have rules. Well their not just mine, the festival insists, with a smiley policeman cut-out and everything… baby girl observed it too…

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Please, for the love of God, KEEP OFF THE FLOWERS. It may seem obvious to most, but most people would not jump behind a rope where there is a sign of a person jumping over a rope with a BIG LINE THROUGH IT.

I saw some people disobey the sign for the sake of the perfect photo, and man oh man did I wish for some Dutch police to take them away and whip them with Poffertjes until they bled like strawberry jam… for the sake of respecting the Tulips, take your photos in front of the rope and not behind it… it is there for a reason after all.

And look! What do you know, a beautiful photo that wasn’t taken while standing on precious bulbs.

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Face palm. Some people.

Tips:

Be prepared to be out ALL DAY. That means comfy shoes, an easy and light bag, and water/snacks of some kind. Yes you can buy it all there, but you don’t wanna be running off to the food trucks when you are in the middle of a field of tulips now, do you?

They have a car park, AND an overflow car park. I suspect I was in the overflow carpark, and that was on a Thursday of the school holidays. My point is… come as early as you can, or try to avoid weekends and public holidays. If the car parks are full, they suggest you drive out to one of the quaint towns for a bit and then come back to try again. This seems absurd due to the sheer number of cars that clearly can fit there… but as I said again, it was a Thursday. And it was practically packed.

Bring your hat, sunscreen and sunnies. It can get a bit dusty, so closed-toe shoes may be the way to go.

And lastly, the MOST IMPORTANT word of advice… take home some tulips. You won’t regret it, trust me 😉

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An Enchanting Time

The crazy Christmas lead-up in early December saw me say “no, I want MORE mayhem!” as I headed over to my second bloggers meet-up at The Enchanted Adventure Garden.

Only ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we wound up higher and higher up Arthurs Seat road, watching the Eagle chairlifts hover over us temporarily as they made their casual descent/ascent…
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and ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we first passed Bowens Point

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And then Franklins Lookout

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Murrays Lookout

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and then finally, Chapmans Point

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It was serene, with a small dose of beautifully scary as I viewed the perilous drop from the cliff face. No, my memories of last travelling on that stunning Arthur’s Seat Rd hill, were from about 7 or so years ago before baby girl came along, when Hubbie and I, having not even considered the words ‘Sea change’ then, were heading to our beautifully intimate Arthurs Seat hill accommodation for the night, and as I observed that it was pitch black and almost scary how there were no lights around, he turned to me devilishly and gave me his best ‘Michael-Jackson-as-possessed-zombie-in-Thriller’ face look, to which I screamed and started to cry.

So no. These views were NOT scary compared to that strong memory.

And crazy was suddenly so far from mind, so removed from my being, that the Christmas rush was only a faint memory as we parked and observed the car park and surrounds…

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And I realised, we are not in Kansas anymore baby girl. But that’s what happens when you come to the Mornington Peninsula now, is it?

Us bloggers were greeted to a lovely morning tea and a brief introduction to all that the Adventure Ground is, and does.

Immaculate gardens, picnic area galore, mazes, Adrenalin-junkie fun, kids paradise, relaxing walks, and even a sweet-tooth’s dream! Why, is there anything Enchanted didn’t cover?

I was soon to find out. Off I went with baby girl with my map of the grounds, my critical eye out and ready for my review…

Statues – tick. √

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Finely trimmed hedges – tick. √

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Brightly coloured flowers – tick. √

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Ok, so this was all well and good for the adult eye, but I needed to keep my daughter happy, and looking at trees was something she had not grown to appreciate as yet.

We followed a path and soon found ourselves in the Turf Maze, a fantastic and relaxing premise based on a practice by Monks in the Middle Ages, used as a meditative tool as they would walk around and around in repetitive circles in silence, aided only by their feet and their thoughts. I got baby girl started on one end as I started taking photos of… the trees.

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I LOVED that tree. Just l♥ved. I developed some serious tree envy as I took several dozen photos of it, and baby girl skipped through a few maze lines, and then was suddenly at the exit of the maze.

Right-o. I don’t ‘quite’ see her meditating in that space, but at least it kept her somewhat busy.

I had promised her a playground (with absolutely no idea whether they had one or not – massive parenting risk), and so that is what we were looking for when we came across this sign.

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It seemed the only fun active activity we could do together, in lieu of getting my 4 year old to tree surf by my side, which I was not going to do solo (again, parenting-risk doing it ALONE). Zip-lining was out too.

W observed the tree surfers in the trees up ahead of us, blending in quite nicely I might add, and immediately decided I would come back there with my adventurous, scare the living daylights out of me Thriller-seeking Hubbie.

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Finding the tube slides was fairly easy, as it is actually hard to ignore five 100-metre long slides that steep down from the hill decline.

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There are tube slides for littlies, from 4 and up, so baby girl could have very well gone on it by herself, since the smaller weight actually makes them travel down slower… but no. I decided to take her with me on the adult ride…

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and then plummet down super fast while I thought “oh shit we’re going to flip.”

We didn’t. In fact we went up twice, and on our second trip down the tube turned backwards, so that I really was freaking then “we’re going to flip! We’re going to flip!”

WE DIDN’T. It was the best fun, but the fact of having to haul a huge tube up a steep hill, carrying a fairly heavy handbag, in heat, and while wearing inappropriately heeled shoes, well, it kind of influenced me to cap the tube slides at TWO.

Baby girl was left thoroughly captivated. And yet still, as we headed off down some other paths to explore, she had not forgotten about that damn playground I had promised.

She looked here and there

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She did the usual whine and moan and unsatisfied toddler routine. Damn me. Why had I gone and said something I had no clue about?

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(Baby girl going all 14 year-old hormonal on me)

I stopped to view some interesting sculpture art along my tree-lined walk.

Art and sculptures from Aboriginal, Australian and European artists collided and worked magically together in this most wondrous of gardens.

And then we got to another maze, the Blue Gum Gallery, and I followed a fast baby girl around it, as she laughed at how incompetently slow I was.

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This cheered her up somewhat, and since by this stage we were close to the café from where we had started our walk, it was soon time to go, and clearly I had come across no such playground from the depths of my imagination. I shut down another protest from her with an insane idea, but it worked.

“Do you want lollies?”

And just like that, a 4 year-old’s face lit up.

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We went inside, paid $5 for a cup, and filled it to the brim with all kinds of devilishly sickly sweet goodies. She ate them slowly in the car, stopping every so often to mumble “mmm, yummy…”

Parenting done right. 😉

The deets!

The Enchanted Adventure Garden

55 Purves Road Arthur’s Seat

General Park Entry for Adults: $30; Child/Seniors $20

this includes:

Mazes, Giant Garden Brainteasers, captivating Gardens to picnic at and view in all of their pristine natural glory;

Tube slides – of which there are 6 to choose from: 3 Big Twisters, 2 Straight Giants, and 1 Kids Only slide. Kids need to be 4 to ride on the Kids slide on their own, any smaller and they must ride with an adult.

Canopy Walk – a suspended path that brings you in amongst the trees, that runs through the park, ideal for small children, older people and people with prams.

a 3D indoor spooky maze – pop on your 3D glasses and watch things pop out at you! Ideal for teens and older kids.

Plus MANY more fun things to discover as you meander around.

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Both kids and adults alike can experience the Tree Surfing on offer. The little nippers course is for kids aged 4-12, though kids aged 4 and 5 need an adult to accompany them on the course.

The tree surfing has various degrees of difficulty for both amateur and professional, mild and reckless adult thrill-seekers alike! Includes bridges, zip lines, obstacles and tree platforms, prices for both Nippers and Grand Tree Surfing courses start from $50 for Adults, and $40 for Children/Seniors, with a 2 hour limit per activity.

But if you need your adrenalin rush and lack the time, need not fear! The Tree Zip Line may be just what you need, and those competitively charged, you can even Zip alongside a friend and see who gets to their destination first! Prices are $40 for Adults, $30 for Children/Seniors.

Active wear highly recommended for these ACTIVE activities, and closed-toes shoes a MUST!

I must reiterate again, despite baby girl’s temperamental attitude towards a lack of playground, there ARE kid-friendly activities and things to do, and they abound. However on that day there were several tree-top renovations happening up above, getting all geared up for the crazy holiday season, and so a couple of areas of the Gardens appeared incomplete. The above is an indicator of what is up on offer, but isn’t a complete list, as there is also a Children’s Maze, something we didn’t see on that day but I think would be perfect for a curious baby girl.

Tips:

Need I say again, closed-toed shoes?

Make your life easy and don’t wear heels.

More advice? Carry light. When I hauled that tube up the hill twice, in my heeled shoes carrying my heavy handbag, I developed lower back pain two nights later and immediately knew where it had come from.

For God’s sake don’t be like me, wear appropriate footwear, pack light, and carry the tube as unforcefully as you can. Or bring Hubbie along and he can do it.

And if all else fails, remember…

LOLLY SHOP.

(Mwa ha ha!)

At first glance perhaps pricey on entry, but when you see all the beauty and fun, relaxation and learning that these Gardens have to offer, you will see that it is well worth the price.

Our visit there was rushed, so I cannot wait to go back and explore some more.

And for something different, an alternative and highly entertaining present would be the Tree Surfing and Zip Lines as a fabulous and inventive gift idea.

So, what are you waiting for… Upwards! ↑↑↑