Canola fields near Canberra
As the darkest days of winter pass, the blooming golden canola crop takes its turn to light up fields across the Canberra region. If you live in Canberra and have a hankering to take a relaxing drive to the country, canola season is the perfect excuse to hit the road. The season usually begins in mid-August and runs for several weeks with crops often at their peak in early and mid September.
The Canberra region is surrounded by canola country and the good news is as well as the canola, there are burgeoning food, wine, vintage and antique trails winding through the idyllic little towns along the way. The region's colourful characters, rich history and bucolic beauty combine to make a canola trip into an experience you'll want to recreate every year. The range of side experiences means you can amble along and make a jam-packed day or a weekend of things rather than rushing to take a few happy snaps before racing home.
While any drive west of Canberra into the Hilltops, Riverina and beyond is likely to have you immersed in acres of canola, there are several mapped trails that show you the likely areas to spot loads of golden flowers fast. The Canola Trail
runs through the shires of Coolamon, Junee and Temora. For the food lovers, you can feast on the treats at the Coolamon Cheese Co and Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory, meat pies at Ganmain and plenty of artisan produce including olives, oil, honey and more to be discovered and devoured.
Canola in Cootamundra near Canberra
Canola fields near Canberra
The Hilltops Canola Trail
starts at Young, more famous for its cherries, before heading east towards Boorowa, taking in the bright yellow fields and vibrant green hills studded with sheep. From Boorowa, the trail runs to Harden-Murrumburrah, Wombat and back to Young although from Harden you can also turn back toward Canberra.
The area around Grenfell is also bursting with canola and while there's no formal trail, this area offers a more personal approach. To find out the best location each season, you can call the Grenfell Visitor Information Centre on 02 6343 2059 or drop in when you arrive. The staff are happy to provide you with up-to-date information and maps and if you've been dreaming of a special photo shoot among the crops, they have contacts who can arrange access to farms with the permission of the landholder.
Last but not least, if you think you've seen it all before, think again! There's a new canola perspective on offer this year courtesy of Goldrush Balloons who are offering flights over the canola fields launching from Temora Airport throughout the season. You can find out more here
The beauty of the countryside is free for everybody to enjoy but if you do stop for photos, never go onto private property - these crops are the livelihood of owners and can be damaged easily. Also be sure to find safe places to park because many country roads are narrow, have high-speed limits and plenty of truck traffic. There are so many fields that you can easily view and take pictures of from safe parking spaces outside the fence line so take your time, find those and enjoy the magic of canola country.