A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
The sweet scents of spring flourish
A few years back, I was in Bennelong Park at Putney photographing some fish sculptures and across the river I spotted this beautiful historic building. I later discovered it to be the Thomas Walker Estate, fondly known as Rivendell.
Thomas Walker was a Scotsman who became an Australian politician in addition to being a banker and a philanthropist. With his passing in 1886, part of his fortune was set aside to found the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital. It was designed in Federation Free classical style and built in 1893. Many servicemen from both World Wars were treated here as was notable author Henry Lawson who was in several times for the management of alcoholism.
Sitting on Rocky Point at Concord West, the site has also been a film location for Superman and Lex Luther's mansion as well as being used in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. Nowadays, the estate is home to both Rivendell School and a child/family unit and for the first time ever a flower show is coming to the gorgeous grounds for the public to enjoy.
The Rivendell Flower Show will showcase displays and show gardens by up and coming floral designers and gardening personalities over one spring weekend in September. A mix of artistry, style and design from the likes of the Royal Horticultural Society of NSW and Sydney Flower School will evoke even more beauty against the architecture of the estate grounds.
This celebration of Australia's great outdoors sees many gardening talks from TV presenters and leading industry experts at the Main Stage Marquee, including Don Burke discussing how to attract birds to your garden and Nick Marker with A Beginners Guide to Topiary. A good variety of other topics embrace worm farming, caring for wildflowers and how to grow olives. There's also a chance to take part in learning key floral arrangement techniques at pop-up classes and a unique photography workshop in the Event Space.
There's also a Kids Space that allows children to explore the growing world through a number of free activities. They can make a terrarium (miniature garden or forest) to take home and watch it grow; adopt a tomato and learn about how vegetables develop; learn how to paint still life flowers with the Drummoyne Art Society; and make a flower cupcake with a Styrofoam base and real flowers to create a bouquet.
In the Market Space you can purchase a range of plants from cacti and succulents to wildflowers and natives as well as cut flowers. Children's gardening items and gifts, flower crown making, floral paintings, garden sculptures, garden furniture, garden tools, hand-crafted jewellery and nature photography prints are all available. On the food side, there is a sausage sizzle along with vendors, such as Bohemian Delights with their homemade organic spreads, Best Gozleme, Snags & Shakes, Chur Burger, French Oven pastries, Messina ice cream and Cafe Nino.
An elegant High Tea is available for both morning and afternoon in the pretty fountain courtyard with finger sandwiches, flaky scones, sweet and savoury tarts, a pot of boutique tea freshly-brewed, and more. Check out the menu choices here. Costing is $40 per person with 1hr session times from 10.30am. You will need to book ahead.
Another option to enjoy is the Teddy Bears' Picnic in The Woods that will see dream catchers blowing in the gentle breeze from the river and butterflies dancing around the tall trees whilst children participate in games of musical chairs, Simon Says and croquet, to name just a few. Bring your teddy bear and dress it up as there will be prizes each day in a range of categories that include best-dressed, cuddliest and biggest teddy bear. Judging will be at 2pm each day. Bring a blanket and sit on the grassy knoll or at tables and chairs available. Prepare your own picnic food, buy something from the market or purchase a hamper for $30. The latter come packed for individuals and have cute names, such as Beneath the Bougainvillea with its Peppered Rare Roast Beef Baguette, Vegetarian Pasta, Nougat Chocolate Mousse and bottle of water; and the Gluten-free Tiptoe through the Tulips with its Coronation Chicken Wrap, Vegan salad, dessert and water. Nut free and dairy free options can be had too. Other sweet names include the Fresh as a Daisy and Poppy Fields hampers. For full menu options, click here. Bookings are essential. Hampers can be picked up on the day between 11am and 2pm from the market stall area.
Whilst relaxing over lunch, listen to some sounds on the Performance Stage from singers Altiyan Childs (season 2 winner of X Factor Australia), Brittany Sheahan and Josh Needs. Flora Kulchas, a cast of floral characters bringing floral design and horticulture alive, will brighten up the stage in a unique show with special guest celebrities, like The Cowdashianz.
This flower show-cum-festival has a lot for all ages to enjoy and is a not to be missed event for garden lovers. Entry is $20 per adult and $5 per child under 12yrs with proceeds going to a good cause, Strong@Concord, which focuses on care of the elderly. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate.
Note there are no ATM facilities onsite and most stallholders will only be accepting cash, however, an ATM is available at the hospital and your wristband will allow you to exit and re-enter the show when you want.
The nearest train station is Rhodes and then a 15 minute walk to the estate will get you there or you can get bus routes M41 and 458 from the station that stop close to the estate.
Uber are onboard with a special offer giving new users a free ride (up to $20) to attend the show.
If driving yourself, parking is available nearby at Concord Hospital in the Hospital Road car park.