Posts Tagged ‘orchid gardens’

The Orchid Garden of the Sleeping Giant was a complete contrast from the experiences we had been enjoying on our island hopping journey on ‘MV Reef Endeavour’.  Here, in a plantation of some 20 hectares, over 2,000 orchids are grown. Not all were on display, because the garden was still recovering from the cyclone, but there were enough to make for a magical walk through a lush green forest at the foot of the mountain of the Sleeping Giant.


P1130856  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

While predominately a show place for orchids, these gardens also contain many native Fijian plants,

as well as plants from other tropical areas.



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A welcome site at the garden entrance is this stunning Bismarckia Palm, endemic to Madagascar.

It really enjoys the hot wet summers and less wet winters of Fiji.



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The gardens were begun in the 1970’s by the late Canadian born actor, Raymond Burr, famous for his acting personas of Ironside and Perry Mason.  For Burr, Fiji was his second home, away from the Hollywood spotlight.  Apart from enjoying time on his secluded ‘hideaway’ on a small Fijian island, Burr and his partner, Robert Benevides, bought this plantation to house their private collection of orchids.



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Burr hybridised an estimated 1,500 varieties of orchids before he left Fiji in 1983.

Fortunately for visitors to Fiji, this garden has not only been maintained

but has been developed into one of the major orchid gardens of the world.



P1130953    ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The paths through this botanic wonderland enter through a mesh-covered walkway.

It’s lined with cultivated orchids growing in pots perched on rock walls.

They are surrounded by perennial epiphytes and other plants such as low growing ferns and gingers.



P1050160  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

While not all of the orchids were on show, there were indeed many to enjoy.



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They come in an amazing variety of colours and shapes and sizes – all beautiful.

 I’ll add a selection so that you can wander along this path with us.

We hope that you enjoy them as we did.



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The orchids also had a  large ‘supporting cast’ of delightful plants bedded amongst the rocks.



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The bright red flowers of Anthurium added a dash of colour amongst the greenery of ferns.



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Bromeliads were well represented too.



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Butterflies added to the delightful experience of wandering in this orchid rockery.



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But the real stars of this garden were the orchids. And there many more still to discover.



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Occasionally something unusual like this wasp takes the attention away from the orchids.



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After a leisurely wander through the orchid rockery, the path came to the top of a rise with an open vista towards the hills. Here there’s a delightful feeling of wildness, with the forested foothills of the Nausori Highlands in the distance. It’s these hills that give the garden its unusual name, as the corrugated ridge above the gardens is said to resemble the body of a sleeping giant.



P1130919  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

And from here, a boardwalk leads down into the cooler shade of the valley.

And we’ll explore that part of the gardens in the next episode.


All Photography ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels


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The Port of Lautoka emerged out of the morning mist as MV Reef Endeavour inched its way towards the wharf.

Our original destination was Denarau, Nadi but our Captain changed course during the night to this Port because of the winds.

 I didn’t mind. I’d never been here before.



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This is not a town frequented by tourists. It’s a busy port for import and export.



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As the sun warmed the air, more of this busy port became visible as we waited to disembark for the day.

We were to have a day on land while some passengers disembarked and others joined the ship.



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The opposite side of the port is just marshy scrub.



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We didn’t go into the town centre but took the road around this memorial to head south.

Our destination for the day was the Orchid Gardens of the Sleeping Giant!

On the way I took photos of the countryside from the car window.



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There are several of these well kept roundabouts on the road that joins Lautoka to Nadi.

This one has a sign that welcomes you to Lautoka, the “Sugar City” –

this area is one of four major sugar growing areas in Fiji and the main sugar export port.

Its estimated that 200,000 people in Fiji depend on the sugar cane industry for their income.



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We saw several areas where various commodities awaited shipping. These were wood chips.



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A large flour mill used a rather clever bi-line for it’s product:

Raising the standard of flour” !



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As you see in most of the world’s ports these days, there were piles of shipping containers.



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The story of the Fiji sugar cane industry is a long and involved one. But one of the most important factors that still has implications for life in Fiji today was the use of indentured labour from India to help make this industry a viable one.

In the 1870‘s, the British Colonial Government began to recruit indentured workers from India and South East Asia to help develop the sugar cane industry in Fiji.  Over 37 years, 61,000 such workers arrived in Fiji. They came from different regions and from different backgrounds and castes. Many came from rural Indian villages.

The indenture contracts required them to work in Fiji for a period of five years in often difficult conditions.  Most never returned to India.  From the early 1900s, Indians started arriving in Fiji as free settlers.  Nowadays, most Fijian Indians have lost touch with and feel no connection with the country of their ancestors. They feel as much Fijian as their native ethnic Fijian counterparts.

Fijians of Indian descent are concentrated in the so-called Sugar Belt and in cities and towns on the northern and western coasts of the major islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Differences between the two communities, ethnic Fijians and Indian Fijians, have characterized Fijian politics since independence in 1970… and still do. But the intermingling of peoples makes Fiji a colourful, multi ethic country.



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Fijians of Indian descent make up a large proportion of people in the Lautoka area.

This is a small community Hindu temple.

There are much larger and very colourful temples closer to the big towns.



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Education is very important in the Indian Fijian community. This is one of their schools.

They believe, as I do, that a good education leads to wider opportunities in life.

Educated Indian Fijians own many of the businesses in towns.

They also hold many public service positions.



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We drove on through the farming countryside, the ocean never far from the view.

The remains of a large road sign showed more of the cyclone damage.



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This farm had a crop of taro, a root vegetable, the most common carbohydrate food eaten in Fiji.


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Waiting for the bus, Fiji style.



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Cows grazed freely along the road side beside this Christian church.



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There were several churches along the way, often much larger and in better condition than the houses.



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Finally, we came to the rocky hills of the sleeping giant –

close to our destination for the day,  ‘The Orchid Gardens of the Sleeping Giant’.



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A rather rough road lead through yet more sugar cane farms towards the hills and the garden.



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This garden had been hit heavily by the Cyclone. However, we were told it was back in fairly good order.

We would soon find out and I will share those photos in the next episode.


All Photographs ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels


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