Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Little Adventures #19: March 2024 – The Gardens of Ripponlea.

Although I grew up in a suburb not too far away from Ripponlea, I’ve never been there. I know…!

The National Trust runs it, and as I’m a member because of my England/Ireland trip, I decided to take advantage of the free entry and get myself over there. It was a beautiful sunny morning and I wanted to get out.

Here’s the information page. It’s worth a quick read as it gives the history of the house. It’s worth it to see how many servants (and children) the family had!

Parking was as hellish as I feared it would be. I was only able to grab a 1 hour park, so I figured I’d just have a wander through some of the gardens, (there are 14 acres, apparently), and I’d do a tour of the house another time.

After going through the gatehouse, triumphantly waving my National Trust card at the woman behind the counter, I set off along the gravel driveway towards the house.

It’s lined by Narnia lamp posts!

After what seemed like a fair trudge, I got to the house. I could just imagine horses and carriages turning in front of the house, and ladies with elegant long dresses stepping out.

Here’s the front entrance. Ornate, isn’t it? I got closer to look at the statues on either side of the door and look!

The one on the right is reading a book. I definitely have to come back on another day and inspect this house.

Looks like there’s a conservatory tacked onto the side of the house.

When viewed from the side, it’s disappointingly small.

I walked around the back of the house, had a quick chat with a gardener, who said, “The dahlia patch is in fine bloom.”

I suppose it was. But gee – all of that staking of the flowers!

They’re undeniably pretty, but too much upkeep for me.

Behind the dahlias, I saw one of the things I was keen to see – the fernery. Alice, one of my friends from work, was proposed to here a few years ago.

I set off towards it, though my hopes of getting a proposal in there were very low.

Then, just before I left the back of the house, I turned around to see this:

Simple, but very pretty. Imagine living here and seeing this out of the window every day?

The fernery was a place where I could have stayed longer. It was lovely.

It has lots of winding paths, with the lush green of the ferns and other plants all around. I chose the left path and set off.

This massive bird’s nest fern made me feel guilty about the poor little one that I’ve got at home. I planted it under a tree fern, thinking it’d get enough shade, but it’s struggling. This one looks really happy.

The reason for all the lush greenery is that they’ve got a little creek running through the place. This is where there’s a bridge to let the water run under the path.


The roof is open. It’s just slats, which I wouldn’t have thought would give enough shade, especially in summer.

But the ferns were proving me wrong.

After a look at the time on my phone, I decided to exit and found myself near the lake. There were lots of happy ducks, along with some VERY happy arum lilies. Again, I thought guiltily about the patch of arums I have at home.

I made a mental note to give them water more often.

Pretty, isn’t it? I waited for two groups of people to finish taking photos of themselves on the bridge.

Huh. Such a touristy thing to do!

You’d never see ME doing any such thing in my home town!

Anyway, here’s what I was looking at.

The ducks were busily feeding.

I absolutely love it when they duck-dive!

Look at his little legs all splayed out.

I walked to the left of the lake, towards a lookout tower I could see.

I have a goal to do more exercise every day, before I get to ‘Heart Attack Hill’ on the Ghan tour I’m doing in September. This was it for today.

Getting closer!

There we go! The stairs!

I thought of all the stairs I had to climb in Blarney Castle, back when I was in Ireland. Compared to that, this was a piece of cake!

It was a nice view, up among the trees.

I also saw some train tracks. I didn’t realise that the train was so close here. Maybe next time I could come by train – using my Senior’s card = cheap – and stay here for as long as I want?

With another glance at the time, I knew I had to get back to the car.

The walk back to the gatehouse reminded me of all the walks I’ve done in stately gardens in England with Scott, Deana and Kathleen.

It easily equals them. And to think I grew up only a few suburbs away!

I strolled past the lake.

I saw an enormous aspidistra.

Actually, one of these would look great in the Man Cave. I must track one down.

If you peer between the trees you can see the fence.

I’m nearly there.

And here it is. There’s a small nursery behind here, along with a little café.

I bought myself a little rubber plant as a souvenir and I got 10% off for being a National Trust member.

I saved a whole dollar on that plant. Bargain.

What with England and now here, I’ve more than made up the purchase price of the membership. I’ll be renewing next year.

I thoroughly enjoyed my gallop around Ripponlea. I’ll be coming back one day to spend longer here. Next time, I’ll see the interior of the house.

Dad joke of the day:


  1. Lucinda

    That looks brilliant. Worthy of several visits and wanders through the gardens.

  2. Andrew Cee

    Unless the policy has changed since I was last there, you don’t have to pay to walk in the gardens, which I thought was terrific.

    • FrogdancerJones

      I think this only applies if you’re a resident who lives in the local suburbs.

  3. Loretta

    I’ve been there for weddings and work Christmas parties and it is so beautiful! It used to be a venue for outdoor plays years ago too. I used to be able to ride my bike there when living nearby. Sigh.

    • FrogdancerJones

      It’d be one hellava bike ride from where you live now!

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