Who would have thought that the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest cactus collection is just a few hours from Melbourne? Well, “collection” doesn’t quite cut it… this eight acres of sprawling country side is jam-packed full of the prickly things.
You’ll find Cactus Country just a few kilometres from Cobram on the Murray Valley Highway in Victoria’s North (just past Shepparton). This adventure park for cacti lovers is part cactus museum, part cactus café and for the right price – a pick-your-own cactus farm.
Once you’ve made your way down the last dirt road, past the horse paddocks, you’ll find the perfectly decorated Mexican hacienda and be given your sombrero for the day.
A self-guided tour of Cactus Country will take you along eight separate paths, each showcasing plants from different regions of the world.
The property (previously a peach orchard) houses well over 10,000 varieties of cacti and succulents and includes some enormous plants which are over 50-years-old that look like they’re straight out of a Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote showdown.
Cactus Country has been running for a good 27 years and has established some impressive cactus collections in that time. They’re also propagating new seeds and specimens, which means that you’ll see some weird and wonderful plants that you never knew existed.
The best part is that you can get cuttings of any plant to take home with you. The staff will follow you around with a hand saw (which sounds scarier than it actually is) to cut and package your very own piece of Cactus Country at barely a fraction of the cost of the hipster homeware shops and nurseries in the city. Seriously, this is an untapped gold mine.
Once you’ve weaved your way through the maze of gardens and chosen a few prickly souvenirs, head to the Cactus Café to escape the blistering desert sun. There you can browse some Mexican homewares, use the free Wi-Fi to upload your happy snaps, sip on a quality coffee and indulge in a mouth-watering slice of homemade cactus cake (yep, for real).
This friendly family-run business gets an A+ for service. A staff member will even meet you at the exit to rid you of any nasty cacti prickles with a set of tweezers.
Cactus Country is open 9am-5pm 7 days a week and entry costs $12.50AUD. You can follow @CactusCountry on Instagram here.
(Photos: Vanja Bezbradica, follow her at @holisticnomad)