picnic + tulips = araluen

A popular spot for families and budding botanists, Araluen Botanic Garden is a slice of greenery amidst the bushlands of Roleystone. Against a background of dry scrub succumbing to the heat, the lush tulips are like a make-believe world, where we could almost believe we are somewhere in Holland.

It’s an half hour drive to Roleystone and we roll out the rug for a picnic amongst the last tulips of 2010. With quick succession, pork and fennel sausage rolls, finger sandwiches, cupcakes and Jess’s date and walnut loaf appear – and disappear just as quickly.

The fragrant pork and fennel sausages were surprisingly more-ish. Now, the date and walnut loaf was really something else. It was so, so good and the recipe (thanks Jess!) is so ridiculously simple. I can’t believe it’s so tasty! Plus – get this – it’s relatively healthy. You can even cut down the sugar in it. Crazy business.

The recipe for the wonderful date and walnut loaf is at the end of the post.

Disappointingly, the tulips weren’t in full force this year (perhaps to do with the dry winter) but there’s enough attractions to potter around for an afternoon.

DevEnshire tea?! Oh dear.

Chalet Healy, ablaze with wisteria flowers, offers a commanding view of the gardens and in addition to light lunches, devonshire tea! Jess and I had to resist temptation (though full from the picnic) to enter and order some tea, just to soak in the pergola of heaving purple scented flowers. It was just beautiful.

Above: Wisterias in bloom.

Above: Magnolias. Now all I can think of is the movie, Steel Magnolias.

Above: The waterfall at the top of the war memorial – the Grove of the Unforgotten.

With 88 pine trees commemorating the 88 Young Australia League boys who gave their lives in WWI, the war memorial looks reminiscent of a European garden, sloping upwards with an artifical waterfall trickling its way down. For an aimless wander, the terraced gardens meander up and away, with many secret spots to be discovered. A long forgotten place of recreation for the early 1900’s society, the terraces were lost and neglected and have been somewhat restored in a bushy effect.

So get out of the city, dust off that picnic rug and embrace the season of outdoor dining. And go make this ridiculously good/easy/healthy-ish date and walnut loaf!

Araluen Botanic Park
362 Croyden Road, Roleystone WA 6111
7 days 9am – 6pm

Chalet Healy Tearooms are open daily, 10am – 5pm .


Date and Walnut Loaf
Thanks to Jess!

For particular large loaf tin, make x1.5 of the recipe to get a nice high loaf. Don’t bother putting one and a half eggs in – put two eggs in and don’t put as much water with the dates and bicarb.

1 cup chopped dates
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60 gm butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 drops vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Grease or line a loaf tin with baking paper. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Combine dates and bicarbonate of soda with 3/4 cup boiling water.  The mixture will bubble and fizz. Leave to cool.

In an electric mixer using a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on high speed until light, white and fluffy.  Sift in the flour. Then add the  beaten egg, dates, walnuts and vanilla essence and carefully mix together until combined.

Pour into prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean (check the loaf at 50 minutes just in case).

Leave the loaf in the tin to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Enjoy with a cup of tea!



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  1. Jess

    Great post! Your photos are absolutely stunning! :o)

  2. mei

    Jess – Oh I almost forgot to send that photo of you. It turned out pretty well in my opinion. ;)

    Conor – Now, you need a loaf wielding friend! Let me know when you find a pate or cheese wielding friend, I’m looking for one too. >.<

  3. Conor @ HoldtheBeef

    So pretty! I’ve never been up there, but perhaps that’s because I haven’t been asked to go there by a tasty loaf wielding friend :)

  4. Laurie

    Love your place but hope you change the spelling from Devenshire to Devonshire [teas] for the above photo!!


  5. mei

    Laurie – Haha I’ll admit I was extremely irked by the misspelling on the blackboard, though there’s not much us spelling/grammar nazis can do about it now. Thanks for dropping by Laurie!

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