History meets discovery at Fitzroy Gardens

International Malaysian tourists play dress up
International Malaysian tourists play dress up

Captain Cook’s Cottage was transported from England and reassembled here in Melbourne

Victoria is known as Australia’s “Garden” State—and for good reason. Melbourne is host to some of the most outstanding parks and gardens, each unique in its own right. New suburbs pop up as Melbourne grows, with councils insisting sufficient land is set aside to accommodate our recreational requirements in the form of open spaces.

Fitzroy Garden’s most famous icon is Captain Cook’s Cottage, which draws crowds from across all borders. In 1848, the area was set aside as a reserve. Magnificent elms—trees that have the maturity of time stand tall and proud, their canopies giving much needed shade in the summer months.

The gardens have colour, following the seasons and offer a place to read a book, laze on the lawn, play a little ball with the kids or settle in for a picnic.

Captain Cook's Cottage
Captain Cook’s Cottage

For the little ones and the not so little ones, there’s a “fairy tree”—sculptured by Ola Cohn between 1931-1934, where you can find Australian animals, birds and bush spirits. There’s a host of other surprises at the Gardens, but I’m going to let you find the rest for yourself and only share Captain Cook’s Cottage.

Firstly, you have to know who Captain Cook is and his role in the “discovery” of Australia to appreciate the significance of his little cottage being here in Australia.

The cottage was built by his parents back in Yorkshire, England in 1755 and is the oldest building in Australia. In 1934, the cottage was brought to Melbourne. Not a mean feat—as the house was dismantled brick by brick, with each brick being numbered and packed into barrels. Then it was put back together in Australia.

Visitors, for a small admission fee, gain entry to the cottage, can play dress up in the clothing of that time, pose for photos with today’s Captain Cook and pore over the artifacts reminiscent of a gone by era. Surrounding the cottage is a beautiful cottage garden, herbs and perennials.

Did you know that back in Captain Cook’s day mattresses were filled with straw, duck feathers or even horse-hair. They sat on a frame with criss-crossed rope? Over time, the rope would stretch and sag and had to be tightened. Now you know why people say “Good night, sleep tight”.


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