Call me old fashioned but I love few things more than packing a picnic, bundling the family into the car and heading out for a slow Sunday drive. And perched on the Great Dividing Range, Canberra is a perfect springboard to the Hilltops and Riverina regions, both of which burst to life with vibrant pops of acid yellow as the canola fields bloom from late August through early October each year. As sunflower fields, paddocks of giant pumpkins and rows of tulips become destinations du jour for travellers seeking beautifully photogenic places to visit, so too these canola fields are popping up on day trip itineraries.
Canola fields make the perfect backdrop for a Canberra day trip
Both the Hilltops and Riverina regions of NSW have recognised the opportunity and provide maps and resources for day-trippers hunting not only the rolling yellow fields but also some fantastic regional produce.
The towns of Boorowa, Young and Harden-Murrumburrah are an easy day trip from Canberra. If you head that way early in spring, you'll hear the crickets singing welcome songs as you wind through the hills and leave the city behind. Among the gently rolling fields studded with sheep, you'll find plenty of canola without having to look too hard. Even after years of visiting, the shock of yellow as you round a bend or crest a hill is breathtaking and feels a world away from city life. The self-drive Hilltops trails will lead you through stunning landscapes via pretty heritage towns packed with local food and wine including stone fruits, olives and fudge.
The Canola Trail which winds through Junee, Coolamon and Temora is a little further afield from Canberra but well worth the drive. If you choose this area, it makes for a perfect weekend away with Wagga Wagga providing a great base to explore the nearby towns and villages. As well as its natural beauty, the Riverina is a food lover's dream with cheese, liquorice and chocolate, olives, wine and even famous pies just waiting to be devoured.
When you are ready to thaw out and unwind at the end of a long and icy Canberra winter, let the warm spring breeze guide you down country lanes to these tiny towns packed with charm. If you do, you're sure to discover somewhere you can take in the beauty of our regional landscapes and leave it all behind, at least for a weekend, amongst the canola. To get started on your itinerary, click here for the Hilltops Region or here for the Canola Trail.