Magnificent Mount Tomah - amazingly it's free to hang out here.
The trees sparkle in delectable shades of peach, plum and lemon or glitter like gold, amethyst and ruby. The weather is mild, the air crisp, the sky blue beyond a scaffold of coloured leaves. A blitzkrieg of delighted tourists ascend on the gardens, cafés and side-walks. This is autumn in the Blue Mountains on one of those blissful fine days that generally makes one feel glad to be alive.
On days like this – so golden with sunshine and flame trees – there are many longings in the human heart.
What is all this bright red, gold and amber about? Science tells us it is the decomposition of chlorophyll due to reduced photosynthesis as the clever tree prepares for lowering light levels in winter. The poets would say that autumn is about death, adaptation and the persistent rhythm of change within all of life.
If summer is the season of beach-going and ice-cream and winter the log-fire and roast dinner, autumn with its mellow weather, symbolizes the picnic and harvest. Or should we say, that final picnic before winter forces us indoors. Bestowing less rainfall than summer and warmer temperatures than winter, autumn is the perfect season for rambling walks through gardens, picnics, al-fresco dining, or just basking in the autumn sunshine. Autumn has less frenzy than summer, less joy than spring and less fear than winter. It's the season of acceptance, slowing down and chilling out.
The trees that ignite such pleasure and captivation are not natives and perhaps that is part of their appeal, reminding us, as they do, of foreign, more exotic lands. They include the maple, oak, liquidamber, ash, plane, poplar, beech, linden, forest pansy (cersis), pear, cherry and crepe myrtle. There are also various types of bushes, vines and hedging plants that will put on a show for autumn. Who is the fairest of all depends on personal taste.
The leaf perver has an array of locations to spy upon these glories of autumn.
One can roam the sidewalks, or peruse public gardens, parks, nature strips and private gardens. Suburban back streets and country lanes can prove to be the site of delightful discoveries, as can highways – basically, anywhere someone once had the hankering to plant these foreign deciduous trees en-masse. My advice is to explore.
To get you started, here are some recommendations for viewing the best of autumn in the Blue Mountains. As always a picture is worth a thousand words.
1. Mount Tomah Botanic Garden
Mount Tomah Botanic Garden - plenty of room to move.
Enjoy the many mature specimen trees planted throughout the garden. There is also a lovely red grove, but it might take a bit of wandering about to find it. At 252 hectares, this garden is extensive. The many lovely grassy and secluded patches are perfect for picnicking. It's also free to enter. An onsite café / restaurant looks out over the garden and mountains. Mount Tomah Botanic Garden is wheelchair and kid-friendly and has a free shuttle bus around the garden for the elderly or disabled or anyone who is just plain stuffed.
For more information click on this link to the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden website.
Mount Tomah is a two hour drive from Sydney via Richmond or a 45 minute drive from Katoomba.
Their address and contact details are listed below:
Phone: (02) 4567 3000
Address: Bells Line Of Road via Bilpin, Mount Tomah
2. Mount Wilson
Mount Wilson in autumn - private gardens & lovely lanes.
Mount Wilson is a tiny, captivating village located 2 hours west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains. For all you need to know about Mount Wilson, including directions, click on this link to my article: "Escapt to Mount Wilson".
3. Everglades Garden, Leura
The Everglades Garden in Leura during autumn.
The Everglades is a National Trust Operated garden set on 12 acres within a surround of Australian bush. There is a lovely grove of trees at the bottom of the garden as well as several specimen trees planted throughout its grounds. Many grassy spots can be utilized for a picnic and there are wooden picnic tables near the bottom grove. There's an onsite cafe, manned by volunteers, serving basic refreshments and snacks.
The Everglades Garden is located in Everglades Avenue, Leura. For all you need to know, including fees to enter and directions, click on this link to the Everglades Garden website
Blackheath in autumn - mature trees in the back streets of the town.
Rows of spectacular tall autumn trees can be found in the back streets of the town. Blackheath is two towns past Katoomba, going up the mountain. There is also a rail station at Blackheath with trains generally running on the hour. Vintage style antique stores and cafes also make this a worthy visit.
Grose Street in Leura as the sun starts to go down.
Leura Mall (the main street of Leura) has a lovely avenue of flowering cherry trees that turn orange in fall. Continue down this road (away from the highway) and also check out the back streets of the town for more lush autumn sights. Stay on the south side of the town - the same side of the highway as the shops - this is the prettier, older part of town.
Leura is a village located one town just before Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Not long before you reach Katoomba, you will see a sign indicating a turn-off on your left to Leura. Take that.
6. Wentworth Falls
Wentworth Falls lake in autumn - kid-friendly.
Check out the back-streets of the town for pretty displays of autumn trees. The Wentworth Falls Lake offers a place to stop, picnic and see a few pretty red and orange leaves. The family friendly lake has play equipment for kids as well as a grassy area for picnicking, toilets and BBQ's.
Wentworth Falls is the village just prior to Leura.
For those feeling more adventurous and happy to travel further west, true delight awaits along the highway to Orange. For more on autumn in Orange, click on this link to my article "Orange Turns Gold for Autumn."
As a further enticement to make the trek check out the photo below.
Just a word of warning, if you do make it to this neck of the woods in autumn - bring a jacket. Once the sun expires it can be decidedly chilly. Secondly, come quickly. It only takes a few blasts of wind to strip the trees of their gorgeous finery. As they say in the popular series Game of Thrones, "winter is coming". You had better make it before then.
Lake Canobolas in Orange during autumn. Make it before winter comes.