Freedomroo – Inside Australia’s largest cactus farm in Strathmerton three hours’ drive north of Melbourne

Holiday-starved Australians yearning for exotic adventure are travelling to a sandy stretch of countryside where rare cacti and succulents grow cheek-by-jowl as far as the eye can see

Holiday-starved Australians yearning for exotic adventure are travelling to a sandy stretch of countryside where rare cacti and succulents grow cheek-by-jowl as far as the eye can see.

It sounds like a scene from an arid Arizona desert, but Cactus Country can be found down a side road in Strathmerton, a sleepy town of 1,042 residents just under three hours’ drive north of Melbourne CBD.

Australians have been flocking to the farm – which is home to the country’s largest cactus collection – to capture brightly coloured Instagram photos and dine at a restaurant that serves Mexican tacos, beers and frozen margaritas.

Standard entry costs $17.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids, with two-person tour and drinks packages starting from $55.

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Holiday-starved Australians yearning for exotic adventure are travelling to a sandy stretch of countryside where rare cacti and succulents grow cheek-by-jowl as far as the eye can see

Cactus Country (pictured) can be found down a side road in Strathmerton, a sleepy town of 1,042 residents just under three hours' drive north of Melbourne

Cactus Country (pictured) can be found down a side road in Strathmerton, a sleepy town of 1,042 residents just under three hours’ drive north of Melbourne

The farm is open from 10am to 6pm Wednesday through Sunday, alongside a nursey where guests can buy succulents to take home as a memento.

Travellers have left rave reviews on social media, with one Melburnian calling it her ‘favourite place for a day trip out of the city’.

Most advise spending at least four hours at the ‘cactus kingdom’, which has eight walking trails for visitors to explore. 

A second described it as ‘a spectacular spot’ while a third said the experience was ‘truly amazing’.

Strathmerton, a sleep town of 1,042 residents just under three hours' drive north of Melbourne

Strathmerton, a sleep town of 1,042 residents just under three hours’ drive north of Melbourne

Most advise spending at least four hours at the 'cactus kingdom' (pictured), which has eight walking trails for visitors to explore

Most advise spending at least four hours at the ‘cactus kingdom’ (pictured), which has eight walking trails for visitors to explore

Australians have been flocking to the farm to capture brightly coloured Instagram photos

One Melburnian called it her 'favourite place for a day trip out of the city'

 Australians have been flocking to the farm to capture brightly coloured Instagram photos

Standard entry costs $17.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids, with two-person tour and drinks packages starting from $55

Standard entry costs $17.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids, with two-person tour and drinks packages starting from $55

An on-site restaurant (pictured) serves Mexican tacos, beers and frozen margaritas

An on-site restaurant (pictured) serves Mexican tacos, beers and frozen margaritas

Others tagged their friends in promotional videos of the farm, with one writing: ‘Get in the car, we’re going!’  

It’s the latest domestic attraction to draw Australians to Victoria, following an enormous sunflower field that bathes the countryside in a yellow glow and a mesmerising lake that turns pink in certain weather.

Hundreds have been flocking to the lake, tucked away in Westgate Park less than 20 minutes’ drive from the CBD, to capture content for their social media feeds.

The lake is strikingly similar to the better known Hutt Lagoon, a spectacular site six hours’ drive north of Perth at Yalabathara that is quickly becoming a ‘must-see’ destination on Australia’s west coast.

But at 6.3km from the bustling heart of Melbourne, Westgate Park offers a more accessible alternative.

Australians hungry for the perfect Instagram photo are travelling to an industrial part of Melbourne to pose in front of this mesmerising lake filled with bubblegum pink water

Australians hungry for the perfect Instagram photo are travelling to an industrial part of Melbourne to pose in front of this mesmerising lake filled with bubblegum pink water

Hundreds have been flocking to the lake, tucked away in Westgate Park less than 20 minutes' drive from the CBD, to capture carefully curated content for their social media feeds

Hundreds have been flocking to the lake, tucked away in Westgate Park less than 20 minutes’ drive from the CBD, to capture carefully curated content for their social media feeds

However you’ll need to time your visit because the captivating hue isn’t permanent.

The natural phenomenon only occurs with the right balance of salt, sunlight, high temperatures, low rainfall and algae, which produces a reddish-orange pigment called beta-Carotene that stains water pink.

Parks Victoria told the ABC Westgate lake first turned pink in December 2012, and has turned pink almost every summer since.

The colour is at its most vivid when the sun hangs directly over the water, from 10am until 2pm each day.

Westgate Park, 6.3 kilometres from Melbourne CBD

Westgate Park, 6.3 kilometres from Melbourne CBD

The natural phenomenon only occurs with the right balance of salt, sunlight, high temperatures, low rainfall and algae, which produces a reddish-orange pigment called beta-Carotene that stains water pink

Parks Victoria say Westgate lake first turned pink in December 2012, and has turned pink almost every summer since

The natural phenomenon only occurs with the right balance of salt, sunlight, high temperatures, low rainfall and algae, which produces a reddish-orange pigment called beta-Carotene that stains water pink

The colour is at its most vivid when the sun hangs directly over the water, from 10am until 2pm each day

The colour is at its most vivid when the sun hangs directly over the water, from 10am until 2pm each day

Photos of the lake have drawn stunned responses on social media, with one woman who visited last summer declaring she was ‘in awe of its beauty’. 

‘Nature will never cease to amaze me,’ said a second, while a third called it the best sight she has witnessed in Australia.

Many were incredulous that such a remarkable attraction existed in Melbourne.

One resident said she only recently discovered the lake despite living in the city for more than 20 years.

Others said they could hardly believe how vivid the colour was in real life. 

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