A place that embodies peace and serenity, rivalling some of the best known gardens in Melbourne, yet still quite unknown—welcome to Springvale Botanical Cemetery.
Dare I say it? This is quite an inviting space. Well-tended gardens, lush green lawns, waddling ducks, and bubbling water features invite you to take a closer look. The care lavished on these gardens is evident with the end result a kind of flourishing splendour.
The botanical cemetery is expansive, spread across some 422 acres of 40-odd gardens. Today, thousands of trees offer cool shade with dappled sunlight filtering through the branches. There are also location guide boards everywhere, so you won’t get lost.
There is enormous diversity in the flora and fauna in the gardens, sectioned into a few different areas. I came across hardy native trees and plants, European gardens, bounding hares, radiant roses, and an Asian garden. At one point, it felt like I had stumbled into an English countryside circa 1950. One area is poignantly called ‘The Garden of No Distant Place.’
According to the gardens’ official website, this is the first cemetery to have won the International Cemetery Award outside of the U.S.A. Apparently cemetery awards are a thing. Who knew?
Many of the traditional aspects of a cemetery have been maintained, but new concepts have also been introduced. These include children’s play areas, free botanical tours and seasonal rose pruning demonstrations, an on-site florist, and a café that is open 7 days a week, with live jazz sessions during the spring and summer.
The cemetery was born in 1901, giving it a rich history of its own. The War Graves section has also been well-kept.
You can also get hitched here. The landscaped gardens are so highly regarded that weddings and community events are regularly held. The cemetery even arranges school tours.
Concerted efforts have been made to cultivate not just the grounds, but also a welcoming community space, where everyone is invited to come in for a picnic, a stroll, or a walk with the dog, too.
There is an underlying air of dignity and noble tranquility here. For much of the time I spent wandering around, all I could hear was the sound of the wind, the chirping of birds and the rustling of the leaves in the trees. If mindfulness is what you seek, here you shall find it.
Springvale Botanical Cemetery is off the beaten path, but then most worthwhile places are. If your quest is for beauty, solace, curiosity, introspection, or a combination of these, then do visit this respite from city life.
GETTING THERE The cemetery can be reached by the route 800 bus that runs between Chadstone Shopping Centre and Dandenong via Princes Highway. AirAsia X flies to Melbourne from Kuala Lumpur. For lowest fares and flight info, visit airasia.com.
Words & Photography: Mariam Twalib, travel 3Sixty° travelsmith
About Mariam Twalib:Inspired by that great enchantress, Mother Nature to live and travel simply. Currently sequestered in Melbourne which has more than its fair share of natural beauty. Still keeps a soft spot for Southeast Asia, having lived and travelled there for the better part of two years.
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