Friday, 14 October 2011


The Dandenong Ranges (commonly just called "the Dandenongs") are a series of low mountain ranges, rising to 633 metres at Mount Dandenong, about 35 km east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys and gullies covered in thick temperate rainforest, predominantly consisting of tall Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth.

The Dandenongs are home to 100,000 residents, but the area is very popular with visitors and tourists.  many of which stay for the weekend at the various Bed & Breakfasts through the region. Much of the Dandenongs were protected by parklands as early as 1882 and by 1987 these parklands were amalgamated to form the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which was added to again in 1997. The popular Puffing Billy Railway, a heritage steam railway, runs through the southern parts of the Dandenongs.

There are many small towns and village-like settlements throughout , but there are also farms and orchards, flower gardens and nurseries. The relatively high altitude and cooler temperatures favour the growth of Spring bulbs and one of the larger bulb farms is the Tesselaar Tulip Farm, which is in existence from 1939. The annual Tulip Festival at this farm is well-attended event very popular with visitors and tourists.

We visited the Dandenongs a couple of weeks ago and as usual we thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent scenery of this very special part of Melbourne. 
As the sign says, the Tulip Festival is held form mid-September to mid-October. Although one goes for the tulips, there are also magnificent displays of other bulbs such as daffodils, bluebells, ranunculi, narcissi, grape hyacinths, hyacinths and other Spring flowers and blossom.
The Festival attracts many thousands of visitors, many of them overseas tourists that get here by tour bus. The local visitors can park in the capacious car park.
As one would expect, there is a strong Dutch flavour at the Farm. In June 1939 - just weeks before the outbreak of World War 2 in Europe - Cees and Johanna Tesselaar left Holland on their wedding day aboard the Strathallan. They headed for Australia, bringing little but their farming expertise and a firm belief in hard work in the land of opportunity.They first settled in Ferntree Gully, then in 1945 moved to Silvan in the Dandenong Ranges. They purchased a small six hectare farm and planted their first crop of tulips and gladioli. Over the following decades the company, under the name Padua Bulb Nurseries, grew into Australia's largest family-owned floricultural operation.The growth and the development of the company, which is now headed by Cees and Johanna's eldest son Kees, has also been heavily dependent on the 'larger Tesselaar family' - the employees. Many employees have been with the company for years and have then encouraged their own children to join the firm. The result is a strong thread of family tradition that binds everyone together.
Poffertjes (Dutch pronunciation: pOff-ert-yes) are a traditional Dutch batter treat. Resembling small, fluffy pancakes, they are made with yeast and buckwheat flour. They have a light, spongy texture and are served with icing sugar and butter.
The gorgeous Spring weather ensured that many visitors turned up on the same day we were there. Although many people availed themselves of the food sold at the Festival, we also saw many visitors having picnics on the grounds.
However, the tulips are what everyone comes to see here! And they are magnificent, standing there row after row in a huge variety of colours sizes and shapes. It's amazing that people are allowed to "tiptoe through the tulips", walking freely in between the rows of blooms.
We chose the time of our visit well as the tulips were at their best.
The sheer variety of tulip cultivars on display is mind-boggling. Throughout the hundreds of years that the tulip has been in cultivation, careful interbreeding and hybridisation (mainly in the Netherlands) has produced over 3,500 cultivars!
Parrot Tulips are the largest of all tulips and there are about 120 varieties. Big and beautiful, they have flamboyant flowers with streaks, ruffles and frayed edges. They are also among the last bulbs in the year to flower.
A young tulip fan is enjoying the colourful display.
A little bit of the Netherlands in Melbourne! Tulip fields and windmills...
The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of diversity is in the Pamir, Hindu Kush, and Tien Shan mountains. A number of species and many hybrid cultivars are grown in gardens, as potted plants, or to display as fresh-cut flowers. Most cultivars of tulip are derived from Tulipa gesneriana. Here is a native of the tulip's original home enjoying the blooms.
In the Language of Flowers, the red tulip signifies: "Believe My Declaration of True Love".
The tulip fields provide many a photo opportunity.
Children seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely amongst the tulip fields.
Tulip mania or tulipomania (Dutch names include: tulpenmanie, tulpomanie, tulpenwoede, tulpengekte and bollengekte) was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the recently introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then suddenly collapsed. At the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble. The term "tulip mania" is now often used metaphorically to refer to any large economic bubble (when asset prices deviate from intrinsic values).
"Two lips many kisses..." although in the Language of Flowers the pink tulip signifies affection and caring.
'Queen of the Night' tulips, also known as black tulips, are not really black but rather a deep maroon color. From a distance or in certain kinds of indoor lighting, the silky and shiny petals of these striking tulips can easily give the impression of being black. These regal tulips were given their gothic-sounding name in 1944, though the hybrid had existed for years before being given their now popular name. 'The Black Tulip' is of course a historical novel written by Alexandre Dumas, père and published in Paris in 1850.
This small-scale replica of a Dutch windmill provides a cutesy, kitch touch and plenty more of photo opportunities.
The yellow tulip in the Language of Flowers signifies: "There's Sunshine in Your Smile", while the orange tulip signifies: "Energy, Enthusiasm, Desire, and Passion".
A young tulipomaniac decided to strip the tulips of their leaves, until his mother thankfully intervened...
The tools of the trade! Tulip growing is hard work, but thankfully modern machinery makes it a little lighter.
Besides which, the tools can also be used to advantage during the Festival!
White tulips signify "Forgiveness" in the Language of  Flowers.

Originally from Persia and Turkey, tulips were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where they got their common name from the Turkish word for gauze (with which turbans were wrapped) - reflecting the turban-like appearance of a tulip in full bloom.

A Turkish legend says that a prince named Farhad was love-struck by a maiden named Shirin. When Farhad learned that Shirin had been killed, he was so overcome with grief that he killed himself - riding his horse over the edge of a cliff. It's said that a scarlet tulip sprang up from each droplet of his blood, giving the red tulip the meaning "perfect love."


  1. I love going to the Dandenongs on a Sunday, taking overseas visitors to have lunch in delicious coffee shops and cafes tucked away in small towns. My grandchildren always order hot chocolate drinks, their favourites.

    But you are right - tulip festival time is special. The tulip is a surprise, an ugly bulbous plant with VERY attractive and showy flowers; but who knew there were 109 species? I am bowled over by the different colours and shapes.

  2. I love tulips and your photos are gorgeous!

  3. Wonderful tulip festival.
    Amazing photos

  4. What a beautiful set of pictures of this event.... The tulips look amazing!!!!!

  5. PS: My fave is the one of the little boy stripping the leaves off LOL!!!!!!

  6. These are beautiful vibrant photos! Amazing to think of Spring down there.

  7. Beautiful photos and interesting information.

  8. These are wonderful photos! A field of tulips as far as your eyes can see! I can't blame the jam packed parking lot!

    I so look forward to our Spring ranunculus fields hopefully at its peak in April. We go there every year.

  9. More tulip loveliness... I didn't know they came from Persia and Turkey, not had I heard this love legend. Somewhere I have a photo of myself in the traditional Dutch dress... :-)