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Spring blooms across NSW

  • There are many spots in Sydney to view jacarandas with their familiar splash of purple.

As the cooler winter weather recedes, spring arrives, bringing with it longer, warmer days and a stunning change of scenery as the natural world comes to life.

From manicured open gardens to wildflower trails and floral festivals, spring visitors to Australia's New South Wales will revel in the beautiful blooms and exotic plants that arrive with the new season.


The lavender blooms of the jacaranda have become something of an Australian icon since being introduced to Australia in the 19th century. There are many spots in Sydney to view jacarandas with their familiar splash of purple.

The harborside suburbs of Lavender Bay, Greenwich, Waverton, Hunters Hill and Woolwich have splendid shows as do Paddington, Glebe, Erskineville, Woollahra and Double Bay on the city side of the harbor.

The Royal Botanic Gardens offers a jacaranda walking tour around Circular Quay and The Rocks. On the NSW North Coast, the historic town of Grafton is famous for its 6,000-plus jacarandas and the annual Jacaranda Festival, Australia's oldest floral festival. Visitors flock to the festival to see open gardens, to walk and photograph the streets around town, and to see the crowning of the Jacaranda Queen.


Sydney is lucky to have a number of beautiful gardens open to plant lovers. Sydney's famous Royal Botanic Gardens hugs the harbor near the Opera House and is popular with visitors and locals all year round. In September and October visitors can see the Spring Walk in full flower.

Look for the famous Wollemi pine, an ancient tree discovered in 1994, and visit the glasshouse, built in 1885, for orchids, begonias and over 200 species of fern. Marvel at the 300 species of palms in the Palm Grove, and see the bulging trunk of the bottle tree. Join a free guided walk, visit The Calyx indoor/outdoor exhibition space or a drink or a bite to eat at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, Café or one of the other eateries.

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan is the native plant garden of the Royal Botanic Gardens, houses around 2,000 plant species and is spread over more than 160 hectares south-west of Sydney. Here you can join a tour or walk, discover the secrets of the seed vault, head to the bird hide on Lake Nadungamba, or wind down with a coffee or meal at Melaleuca House.

Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden, in the leafy harborside suburb of Lavender Bay is an unexpected oasis in a busy, noisy city. With views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Secret Garden is a living artwork and offers tranquility, winding pathways, views and lovely picnic spots. May Gibbs' Nutcote, in nearby Neutral Bay, is the former home and garden of Australian children's author and illustrator May Gibbs, creator of the iconic Snugglepot and Cuddlepie books.

The steep, narrow cottage garden features native and exotic trees and shrubs, and is tended by committed volunteers. In Sydney's northern suburbs, Lisgar Gardens in Hornsby comes to life with more than 90 varieties of camellias. Spread over different levels on a steep block, the gardens also have waterfalls, picnic tables and a rainforest walk.

In the Blue Mountains, explore The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah. The only botanic gardens in this World Heritage Area, the gardens are focused on the conservation of cool-climate plants. Spread over 252 hectares, 11 hectares of which are open to the public, Mount Tomah features a formal garden, rock garden, bog garden, rhododendron displays, conifers, woodlands and more. At the annual Wild About Waratahs Festival (20-28 September), visitors will experience the NSW native, and state emblem, in colorful bloom. At Mount Tomah's 30th birthday party on November 11 and 12, the gardens will be transformed into The Garden of Earthly Delights, with musicians, singers, dancers and poets, plus plant-based installations, floral art display, floating artworks and sculpture. At nearby Leura, Everglades House & Gardens features a beautiful Art Deco home and five-hectare garden, with formal European-style terraces and sweeping Blue Mountains views to Mount Solitary and the Jamison Valley.

A selection of private gardens are open to the public all year round in the heritage garden village of Mount Wilson, but are especially popular in Spring when the fragrant flower displays are at their most beautiful. Gardens open include Yengo Sculpture Gardens, featuring Australia's first endangered wildlife reserve, Nooroo, with its wisteria collection, Breenhold, Sefton Cottage, Windyridge, Bebeah and Merry Garth. West of the Blue Mountains, Mayfield Garden in Oberon is inspired by grand English country garden estates and is one of the world's largest, privately-owned, cool-climate gardens. The café and produce store serves a delicious paddock to plate menu, with much of the produce from Mayfield's own chicken shed, orchards and veggie patches. During the annual Spring Festival, October 14 to 29, visitors get to see the normally private grounds, beyond Mayfield Garden.

The Southern Highlands to the south-west of Sydney enjoys the perfect cooler climate for creating beautiful gardens. Chinoiserie in Mittagong, Moidart in Burradoo, Fifth Chapter Estate in Bowral and a whole range of private gardens in Robertson, greet visitors each Spring with a variety of floral displays including rare and specimen plants, traditional English-style gardens plus French, Japanese and rose gardens and showings of tulips, azaleas, rhododendrons and cherry trees.

Wollongong Botanic Garden on the South Coast has an outstanding plant range including rainforest plants, palm garden, succulent collection, rose garden, bush tucker collection and a woodland garden. In the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney Hunter Valley Garden has a massive 24 hectares of international display gardens. Between October 11 and November 16 the gardens host the Rose Spectacular featuring 50 varieties and 35,000 rose bushes in fragrant bloom. Visitors can stay at one of the many hotels and resorts nearby and enjoy a great choice of dining options.

Floral Festivals

In New South Wales, there is no shortage of floral festivals for garden lovers to enjoy. The Leura Gardens Festival, from September 30, in the Upper Blue Mountains is a week-long celebration of bulbs in flower, deciduous trees and displays of azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwoods and camellias, as well as flowing annuals and perennials.

In country NSW, the Crookwell Garden Festival, on November 11 and 12, will feature nine cold-climate gardens and a Garden Lovers' Market. In Bathurst, the Spring Garden Spectacular on October 28 and 29 is themed as a ‘country garden ramble' and takes visitors through the city as well as along winding back roads to village gardens. Griffith's Festival of Gardens, October 13 to 16, is in its 27th year, and includes pretty cottage gardens as well as country estates. In Cowra, the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival, on September 23, is held at the Cowra Japanese Garden and showcases traditional elements of Japanese culture and the beautiful cherry blossom displays that are in flower until mid October.

The award-winning TulipTime in Bowral is one of Australia's biggest floral festivals, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each September. The highlight of the festival is the mass planting of more than 75,000 tulip bulbs and 15,000 annuals at Corbett Gardens in a spectacular Springtime display.

Trails and National Parks

Lovers of the delicate flannel flower, so named for its soft wool-like texture, should head for the Flannel Flower walking track on the NSW Central Coast near Wagstaffe. This 3km walk connects Tallow and Lobster beaches, and takes in the beautiful sight of the flannel flowers' distinctive white petals in full bloom.

The track also meanders through an angophora forest, before spitting walkers out at the Lobster Point lookout with commanding views along the coast. Nearby Muogamarra Nature Reserve is a fragile ecosystem and Aboriginal cultural heritage site that is only open to the public for six weekends a year. During Spring, the area becomes a vibrant display of color, with waratahs, angophoras, old-man banksias, pink boronias and native orchids all in bloom. Guided or self-guided tours are available.

Driving The Canola Trail in the Riverina in Spring takes visitors through idyllic country towns and villages, bursting with life, great food and wine, and history, all while surrounded by the breathtaking, bright yellow pastures and hillsides of canola flowers. Just north of Wagga Wagga, the trail takes in the idyllic towns and shires of Junee, Temora and Coolamon. Highlights include Temora's Lake Centenary, Junee's farmers markets and Licorice and Chocolate Museum, and Coolamon's Up-To-Date Store.

Werakata National Park, near Cessnock is a great place to see exceptional Spring wildflowers, including purple happy wanderers, yellow hairpin banksia and red mountain devil. Also look out for ground orchids and thyme honey myrtle. At coastal Kattang Nature Reserve, near Port Macquarie, there are magnificent wildflower displays including boronia, flannel flower, everlasting daisy and wedding bush. To immerse yourself in the flowers, take the 2km Flower Bowl circuit or the nearby Perpendicular Point walking track.

At Port Stephens, head to Gan Gan Hill, the highest lookout in the town, offering commanding views from Newcastle in the south to the Myall lakes in the north. The top of the hill is known for its abundance of gymea lilies each Spring. After rainfall Toorale National Park in the NSW Outback puts on a show of wildflowers. Once the snow melts at the end of Winter, high -altitude Kosciuszko National Park comes to life with purple eyebrights, yellow billy buttons and everlasting daisies.



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