... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Published March 13th 2013
Free adventures in the golden season
There's no denying the unique beauty of Autumn. Yet, in the cities, this change of season calendar event can go largely unnoticed.
Autumn's arrival brings the mellowing of the season, softer light and changing trees, making it the perfect time to be outdoors amidst the marvel of nature.
Autumn is also the season associated with harvest. Before the shorter and colder days of winter arrive, Autumn, with its reduced potential for rain, is a great time to indulge in walks, outdoor exploration and soaking up some sun.
Below you will find some outdoor activities unique to the season of Autumn. Unfortunately, the drawback is the lengthy drive to these nature based locales. As they say, nothing good comes easy. Consider it an adventure back to the rituals of fall and to our more in tune-with nature beginnings.
1. Mount Wilson in Autumn
Autumn in Mount Wilson - sublime!
This tiny, secluded English style village set deep in the Blue Mountains, has to be one of the prettiest places to tramp through Autumn foliage. Walk through the avenue of oaks, maples, beech, lindens and other deciduous trees and enjoy the glorious autumnal colours. Two seasonal events occur here in autumn and provide more to do - the Mount Wilson open gardens and chestnut and walnut picking.
Visit as a day trip or stay overnight. Alternatively, accommodation can also be had in the nearby townships of the Blue Mountains.
There is joy to be had in the simple pastime of mushrooming in the woods. In Autumn, the undergrowth of the pine forests of Jenolan become rich with mushrooms, providing such an opportunity. Be wary you eat only the right ones - namely the Saffron Milk Cup. I suggest anyone interested in mushroom hunting view the excellent Gourmet Foragers Blog for detailed pictures and descriptions of both edible and poisonous mushrooms.
The right mushroom - has an irregular edge, orangish flesh, a mottled rather than smooth or shiny appearance and fuzzy rings around the circumference of the cap. You can find it popping up in the pine needle floor.
The pine-needle strewn floor of the forest makes for a pleasant walk amidst the twilit light within the wood. Speaking of twilight, one can feel like they are walking on a set from the movie.
Jenolan State Forest covers an area of 9,700 hectares and is approximately 2 hours drive from Sydney. To get there, travel along the Great Western Highway through the Blue Mountains. Take the turn-off to Jenolan Caves (about 10 minutes after the town of Hartley). Travel along here until you spot the pine plantations (you can't miss them) and the signs "Jenolan State Forest". The idea is to park your car off the main highway on one of the roads into the plantation and go foraging. In Autumn you will often see a small number of other people doing the same. If unsure about which mushroom to pick, you could ask someone more experienced.
Jenolan State Forest - easy to find.
Collecting ones own mushrooms from the floor of the forest has to be about as far removed from Coles as one can get. Enjoy!
3. Apple Picking at Bilpin
Harvest the Golden Delicious Apple at Autumn
Experience the joy of harvesting your own apples. One orchard that offers such an experience is the "pick your own" Bilpin Springs Orchard, with Jonathon and Fierro Fuji, Red and Golden delicious apples, bloodplums, and nashi available. Bilpin Springs Orchard is open for apple picking on the following dates and times in March.
Wednesday, 13th March, 10am to 3pm
Saturday, 16th March, 8am to 4pm
Sunday, 17th March, 10am to 4pm
Bilpin Springs Orchard is located at 2550 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin. Bilpin is a small town on the Bells Line of Road in the Hawkesbury region and is known as the "Land of the Mountain Apple". While you're there, pay a visit to the nearby Mount Tomah Botanic Garden. Or check out more produce in the Hawkesbury area. You can identify other members of the Farmgate Trail on the Hawkesbury Harvest website, here.
Pine Crest Orchard has more flexible hours with apples and plums available for picking throughout Autumn from March until May at a very decent $3.50 a kilo. Walnuts and chestnuts are available in April to May.
The orchards opening hours are 9am-5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Pine Crest Orchard is located at 2549 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin.
Check out the Pine Crest Orchard website here.
4. Mount Tomah Botanic Garden - TomahROMA Autumn Harvest Food and Wine Festival.
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden in Autumn
This autumnal event includes food stalls, local produce, wine tasting, music and children's events at the Botanic Garden, offering another chance to get up close and personal with nature and its harvest. Free guided tours of the garden and access to the garden are available to the public all year round.
Event date: 27 April 2013
Where: Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, Bells Line of Road, via Bilpin, Mount Tomah.
If you haven't been here before, Australia's coolest (temperature speaking) and highest altitude botanic garden is worth a visit. It's never crowded and has room aplenty for private picnics. Get more information from the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens website here.
Autumn dahlia's and salvia at Mount Tomah Botanic Garden
5. Snorkelling and Exploring Jervis Bay Marine Park
Before the winter freeze arrives it's a great idea to hit the beach. If you're going to make a last dash at it, why not aim for the best and visit Jervis Bay Marine Park? Boasting the whitest sands in NSW, some of the best snorkelling and diving in the state and the potential to see kangaroo's and dolphins, this protected marine reserve of 100 square kilometres of coast and adjoining ocean, is a top spot for nature lovers.
In Autumn, the calm waters of Jervis Bay are still warm enough for swimming and there are less crowds than in summer. Autumn is also considered the best time of the year for diving. Good visibility conditions usually reign then along with a water temp hovering around 18-21 degrees celsius. Calm bays and loads of private sand and coast including hidden creeks, lagoons, coves and walks to explore, plus picnic tables and camping areas, also make it an excellent place to take children.
Greenpatch at Jervis Bay Marine Reserve
Of the numerous beaches, Greenpatch, with its glorious stretch of white sand, is the undisputed fave for swimming and hanging out. The best snorkelling can be had at Hyams Beach and Murrays Beach. The last time I snorkelled at these beaches I saw huge sting rays, gropers, massive schools of squid, as well as starfish, small schooling fish and Port Jackson sharks. The latter are harmless, unlike the spear fishermen whose presence close to snorkellers I found unnerving.
Diving, dolphin spotting tours and other water recreational activities are available in the area.
Jervis Bay is 190km south of the Sydney CBD and will take you around two and a half to three hours drive, depending on your location within the city.
Oh, hello! One of the friendly wallabies that hang out near the camp grounds at Greenpatch, Jervis Bay.