The Melton Botanic Garden was gazetted in February 2011.
You can take in walk, see the a Dryland Eucalyptus Arboretum, lake and indigenous vegetation on Ryans Creek. The are two rotundas with free BBQ facilities plus toilets.
The garden is being developed by the Friends of the Melton Botanic Garden.
The whole garden is based on plants and trees which grow in drier environments and therefore most of the trees and plants are quite low and close to the ground. The plants are well labelled with the common name, scientific name and location together with a QR code. Friends of the Melton Botanic Garden have done a great job supporting the development and upkeep of the Gardens.
There are also a number of Fluker Posts which allow you to take a photo and monitor changes over time.
There are tables and seats scattered about the Garden to provide places to rest or have a bite to eat.
A concrete path runs down the middle of the Garden in a north-south direction. There is car parking on the west side and toilets in this area which have some lovely murals on the walls including a map of Australia with the areas occupied by all the indigenous tribes. Thus area near the main lake also has two shelters, each with two tables, bin and BBQs plus a large sandpit for the kids to play in.
Near the lakes is an information board with photos and names of birds that can be seen near the lake which made it very easy to identify the ducks we saw such as the Pacific Black Duck. There's plenty of birds to see around the lake. There is a big and small lake which are frequented by different types of water birds. Please don't feed the birds since it is unhealthy for them.
The southern end of the Garden becomes quite noisy since it is close to the highway.
The Bushfoods Garden is one of the most interesting sections with plenty of information boards. The Bushfoods Garden showcases plants used by Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders as food sources as well as the contemporary use of plants for culinary and herbal purposes.
The garden offers the opportunity to learn about the types of food Aboriginal people used in their daily living, the types of foods Europeans used to survive on, following their arrival in Australia, as well as plants being used in more modern ways. The Australian bush contains a bounty of wild edible plant species ranging from starchy seeds and tangy fruits to mushrooms, tubers, leaves and seaweeds.
Aboriginal people used bushfoods to survive throughout the time before European occupation. They found ways of using bushfood (also known as bushtucker), that reveal extensive and detailed knowledge about the environment. They understood the changes of the seasons and the life cycle of the plants and animals, and how these processes affected their own survival.
Aboriginal people believe that plant food knowledge was passed down during the period of the dreaming. The great spirits of the dreamtime informed Aboriginal elders about plant uses for food, medicines and ceremonial practice. This practice and knowledge of thousands of years is strong and continued today throughout Australia.
Aboriginal people use the foods in their environment in similar ways to other cultures, eating fresh fruit and vegetables, cooking meats and fish, extracting flavouring from the plants to add to cooking, as well as infusing meats and fish with herbs and spices. This knowledge is reflected in our contemporary use of these plants.
Bushfoods - Traditional Use - Many plants are toxic and indigestible for human consumption. Food plants are an exception to this and fall into one of three categories:
- plant parts that are designed to be wild eaten like fruits and nectars
- plant parts that are unprotected by toxins or fibres which includes most tubers and small seeds
- plant parts that have chemical defences that can be removed by cooking — many large tubers and seeds
Bush foods or bush-tucker can be divided into five key groups: meats, plants, seeds, grubs and insects, and honey-like foods such as nectars and wild honey.
Many of the foods are eaten fresh, others like seeds, nut and corn are ground to make flour for bread, while other foods are cooked.
Aboriginal people use various traditional methods of processing and cooking. Many foods are baked in the hot camp-fire coals, or baked for several hours in ground ovens. Paperbark, the bark of the Melaleuca species, is widely used for wrapping food used in ground ovens.
Bush bread or seed cakes refer to the bread made by Aboriginal people for many thousands of years. by crushing seeds into a dough which was then baked.
Guided tours - To arrange a tour of the Gardens for a group or organisation contact John Bentley on 9743 3819 or 0412 162 531. The tours cover areas of the garden including the Dryland Eucalyptus Arboretum, sensory garden, Southern African garden, Western Australia and South Australia beds, bush foods garden, Indigenous peoples garden, Koori student garden, Victorian volcanic plains garden, lake with bird sanctuary and Ryan Creek.
If you want to support the Garden and buy some of the plants for your own garden, the Botanic Garden Nursery, at 21 William Street at the north side, is open during the following times: 10am -1pm on Tuesday and Thursday plus the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month