... 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.
Autumn provides an opportunity to see nature at its most dazzling with trees such as poplars, maples, oaks and plane trees and many deciduous vines, shrubs and fruit trees putting on a show before the descent into winter. The air is crisp, the sun soft yet bright, the weather often at its finest for meandering walks and picnics. Wandering through vista's of glowing ruby and gold foliage amongst radiant sunshine one could be mistaken for thinking they'd entered a heavenly realm.
For those who wonder, Autumn trees are deciduous trees that change colour, taking on shades of red, yellow, orange, pink, purple, magenta and brown in response to seasonal changes including decreasing sunlight (required for photosynthesis and chlorophyll production) and other factors. Autumn falls between April and May in the Southern Hemisphere.
Some of the most beautiful autumn trees are Japanese Maple, Ash, Ginkgo, Liquidambar, Chinese Tallow tree, Aspen, Oak, Tupelo, Elm and Flowering Cherry. Some shrubs and vines such as Boston Ivy (a deciduous climber of the grape family) also impart colour to the autumn landscape.
With most large-scale deciduous tree plantings located in colder zones and higher altitudes, autumn hotspots are typically found in the mountains and more temperate rural regions. One of the most beloved autumn trees, the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) is native to Japan, Korea, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia.
While within Australia glimpses of autumn colour can be seen all over the country, keen autumn leaf seekers head for the most stunning colour hotspots - areas with the greatest coverage and number of autumn trees. And, beautiful autumn foliage isn't the only bonus of autumn, with harvest festivals abounding all over the country during the season.
Do you have a favourite autumn destination in NSW? Or know of a secret nook or less known place that captured your heart?
To get the conversation started, here are some of the most eye-catching autumn destinations in NSW worth hitting the road for. It's unlikely you'll be alone with autumn 'leaf peeping' and autumn festivals a significant contributor to tourist activity in many regional towns.
Dubbed the 'colour city' for its spectacular autumn scenery, the road to Orange is lined with golden poplars, while the cities plantations of ash, oak and maple make a vivid sight in autumn. Orange is three hours from Sydney, but a must for keen autumn leaf-peepers. Worth travelling for. While you're there visit a winery or two - the vines turn gold - and pick apples from an orchard for further autumnal colour and rural joy.
Located in the Northern Tablelands, 470 km's from Sydney, the historic city of Armidale is known for its' autumn beauty. Check out the tree-lined streets, the deciduous trees in the New England National Park and the local parks and gardens.
Two hours west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains is closer to the city and hence popular with Sydney-based day trippers. The best autumn perves are to be had in the villages of Wentworth Falls and in the south (main town sides) of Leura and Blackheath and further afield at Mount Wilson. Mount Wilson with its gorgeous main street of autumn trees, was the site of the Great Gatsby movie and holds an annual autumn festival with gardens open to the public. My personal fave is the trees in the back streets of Blackheath's south side and the Everglades Garden at Leura. For my insider tips on where to see the best autumn tree displays in the Blue Mountains, click here.
Since 1954, Tumut has held the poetically named Festival of the Falling Leaf to celebrate the joy of autumn colour. Located 410 kilometres south-west of Sydney in the Riverina area on the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, Tumut has many established plantings of poplar and elm. The agricultural country town offers some of the most spectacular autumn colours within NSW.
During select dates in autumn, this 160 acre private garden opens to the public for an admission fee. Year round, the Water Garden remains open to the public. Massive plantings of maples combined with the Japanese style water garden, cascading falls and flowers make for a scrumptious sight. At the garden you can also purchase your own autumn tree at the nursery. Oberon is two and a half hours drive west of Sydney. The pleasant drive through the countryside, rife with golden poplars and other autumn trees, is worthwhile of its own accord. For more details on the Water Garden, check out my review here.
Another option is to head South for your autumn fix. Each year the Southern Highlands holds an open garden weekend in autumn featuring gardens across Mittagong, Burradoo, Bundanoon, Exeter and Sutton Forest. Known for manicured English style gardens, the village of Bowral features many deciduous plantings around Buskers End at St Clair Street and Station Street. Also take in the autumnal view from the lookout at the top of Mount Gibraltar.
For Sydney city folk, it's also possible to see a splash of colour without stepping too far from home. Try Auburn Botanic Garden, the Southern side of the duck pond at Centennial Parklands, the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Rumsey Heritage Rose Garden within Parramatta Park, Wahroonga Park and the south banks of the Hawkesbury River in the Cattai National Park.
With winter on its way remember to pack something warm for the evening, and don't forget your camera. And, if you know of a special place not mentioned here, do tell.