Araluen Botanic Park
Most people head to Araluen for the annual spring display of tulip blooms but Araluen is spectacular all year around. We visited late in November to take advantage of the 90th birthday special entry rate of $5 per person. An advantage of coming in the "off" season is that you almost have this beautiful park to yourself!
We had a quick stop at Raeburn Orchards as it was on the way and we hadn't been here before. This is definitely on my list for autumn and spring next year when the trees put on a show of colour! We then called in to Irymple Cherry Farm to buy seasonal cherries.
At Araluen we started our walk wandering through the Poolside Pergola. The pergolas at Araluen are unique with their beautiful stone pillars, reminiscent of palm trees, and curved edges framing the gardens. From here we crossed the bridge onto the main concourse which we skirted to walk through the Margaret Simons Pergola before climbing to the Viewing Platform over the falls.
Sticking with going uphill while we were fresh we climbed Lilac Hill, passed Mary Hargreaves Pergola and walked through the Rose Gardens. The roses were still in bloom but most blossoms were fully open and almost ready to shed so we were probably just past the peak flowering. Nevertheless the perfume and the colours were lovely!
At Rose Garden Terrace we took in the Gazebo before heading downhill, crossing the creek and following the unpaved path around Stinton Pool and across Stinton Creek Lawn. There are some playful natural elements here for the kids to play on.
Stinton Creek runs through the park and you can enjoy the cascades as the brook babbles it's way through lush greenery.
Walking along the northern part of the creek we crossed Chalet Healy Road and joined the paved path/boardwalk that runs below Araluen Road. This path has great views down to the main park area below including the Roundhouse with it's beautiful lush green lawns. After the viewing platform, which overlooks the Old Dunnies ruin, there are steps back down to the main Concourse area. Alternatively you can continue on and walk down Araluen Road to the main entrance.
Back at the Concourse we wandered across to the Pool of Reflection with it's beautiful lilies before climbing the many stairs through the Grove of the Unforgotten with it's layers of channels and waterfalls. This watercourse is designed in the shape of a lyre with the terraces forming the frets and the water flowing across them as the strings.
At the top we diverted to a side path taking us past the Log Cabin and Totterdell Cottage, once used as accommodation for honeymooners who frequented the park. We took in the ruins of Shepherdson Cottage, explored Aspro Cottage and then headed to Chalet Healy Cafe for a well earned coffee overlooking the gardens and watercourse below.
To complete our loop we walked downhill from Chalet Healy to the Roundhouse with it's lush green lawn. The creek here is accessible with several dead end trails leading to it - perfect for kids to do a bit of adventurous exploring! Look up the hill and you can see the ruins of the Old Dunnies.
Araluen's beautiful well maintained lawns are green and luxurious all year round and are perfect for a picnic, a barbecue or a special event. Please note that pets, ball games, skateboards and bikes are not permitted in the park. Check the Araluen website for the best time to see different flowers displays. Note that many of the botanicals within the park and named on "maps" at each location so if you want a particular plant for your garden you can make a note of it's name and head off to your local nursery.
Araluen has a mix of fully paved paths and dirt bush tracks. There are a lot of stone steps but most areas are also fully accessible by paved path - it might just mean walking a little further to loop around. We wandered around Araluen for about 90 minutes including a coffee stop and were able to cover all the different areas. As it was so quiet it was easy to move around and take photos...on a busy day during peak season this may not be the case.
Araluen offers annual memberships (25 Single, $60 Family and Friends) if you are a frequent visitor. This would allow you to see the park as it changes over the seasons. For general admission fees see their website. Araluen hosts several major events so check their events calendar before you plan your visit just in case....
Also be aware that the park may be closed on extreme fire danger days.