As the weather in the Capital region warms up and spring begins to bloom, there's no better time to get behind the wheel and take a country drive. With generous rainfall throughout the 2021 winter, a bumper canola crop is once again set to light up the countryside around Canberra with its vivid yellow blooms. If you're keen to jump onboard #canola, all you need to do is create a cracking playlist, pack your camera and hit the road. If you need some help deciding where to go, here's a rundown on four areas where you're certain to find a canola crop, all within easy reach of Canberra. Right now, these parts of regional NSW are still open but please make sure you check any local Covid restrictions before you hit the road.
The Canola Trail (Riverina)
The Canola Trail winds its way through Junee, Coolamon and Temora in the Riverina region. While this canola hunt is a few hours from Canberra, the profusion of blazing yellow paddocks make it well worth the drive. While nature can be fickle, you can be absolutely sure you time your trip for maximum yellow by checking in with the folks at The Canola Trail who can send you up to the minute canola alerts to make sure your trip is more golden than green. As an added bonus, the Riverina is a food lover's dream with cheese, liquorice and chocolate, olives, wine and even famous pies just waiting to be devoured meaning there will be plenty of opportunity for a gourmet stop along the golden roads.
The Hilltops Region
The towns of Boorowa, Young and Harden-Murrumburrah are an easy day trip from Canberra. If you head that way, usually from late August and through September, you'll find plenty of canola without having to look too hard. No matter how often you visit, the shock of yellow as you round a bend or crest a hill is breathtaking and feels a world away from city life. To make planning your trip easier, the Hilltops Council have created the Canola Trails, three themed, self-guided drives to help you explore the region. Focusing on 'History and Heritage', 'Food and Wine' or 'Nature and Outdoors', you can choose the route best suited to your interests before you hit the road. All three self-drive Hilltops trails will lead you through stunning scenery and historic country towns guaranteed to give a taste of the local food and wine with a side of country charm.
Just a little further afield, the beautiful gold rush town of Grenfell with its historic buildings, country pubs, and rich history and culture is a great base to start your Canola adventure. This is Henry Lawson country and there is plenty of history to soak up in amongst the canola fields. There are plenty of photo opportunities with panoramic views spanning the beautiful farming region. This is Henry Lawson country and you can almost hear the bush ballads as the road rolls ahead of you.
If you don't want to drive this far without a guarantee of seeing some glorious golden fields, the locals in the know have done the detective work for you: all you have to do is call the Grenfell Visitor Information Centre on 02 6343 2059 or drop in when you arrive and they will provide you with up to date information and maps.
The Central West
The area around Cowra and Canowindra in the state's Central West is prime canola country. So popular has its glowing harvest become, in years past Cowra has run annual Fields of Gold canola tours. In 2021, these are on Covid-hiatus so self driving is recommended. Once you've driven enough country lanes to keep you satisfied, this region offers up a very spectacular way to cap off your tour. For a truly unique perspective, you can take in the blooming fields from the sky because Canowindra is one of Australia's most popular spots for hot air ballooning. For more details, click here.
Whether you can spend an hour, a day or a whole weekend exploring our region's beauty, history and produce, you won't regret it. The golden glow of canola and country sunsets with a serving of good food and wine can't help but warm your heart, lift your spirit and leave you full of life and hope. Happy travels!