I'm a mum, teacher and published writer who loves travel, vintage, art and history.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining brightly on the pastures of Silvan and the slow moving traffic dotted the road with the type of leisurely congestion that only tulip mania could be responsible for creating. You could certainly be forgiven for thinking you were driving up to a rock concert, or even the Melbourne Show, with crowds of people everywhere, flocking to their families, lugging around picnic hampers and picnic rugs, rounding up the kids, or even carrying their pet dog through the bustle.
It was a day at the Tesselaar Tulip Festival and it was quite lovely.
I had expected to arrive and find no more than 5 families roaming through the tulip fields, appreciating the little buds of colour, so I was quite shocked to see the enormous volume of bodies queuing up at the gates to purchase their entry tickets. Six rows, all overflowing to the car park area, with patiently excited tulip-enthusiasts waiting to enter. The tickets were $24 for adults, $20 for concession and children under 16 had free entry.
As we walked through the gates with our little map, we surveyed the rows of people...or rather tulips in amongst the people. There were selfies by the red tulips, selfies by the yellow tulips, selfies by the purple tulips... you get the idea. Some were especially prepared with equipment I hadn't seen before which consisted of a long rod to which they attached their smartphone so as to extend the shot above their heads for that perfect selfie complete with panoramic view. Yes, indeed capturing the tulip festival on photograph, and documenting every moment was the first and foremost concern of everyone there. And why shouldn't they be excited? After all, Mother Nature didn't let anyone down when she decided to bloom every tulip in perfect synchronicity. Upright, perfect petals of colour, in perfect tidy little rows that stretched out for acres.
We headed down to the Café for lunch, but it was a bit of a disappointment. We waited for over 30 minutes in the queue to dine in and when we finally had the chance to order we were told that there was a 30 minute wait to have our food brought to the table. Our food order consisted of a broccoli and cauliflower pie with salad on the side and a slice of hummingbird cake. As we didn't want to wait for a further 30 minutes we asked if there was a wait on just getting the pie by itself and we were told there wouldn't be, but somehow we still waited unnecessarily for a pre-heated pie, which coincidentally wasn't great, and which cost $9.00 (it was $16 with the salad on the side). The hummingbird cake was lovely though, but it wasn't worth the wait and the food was overpriced with the overall bill for a small egg and lettuce wrap, a pie, two drinks and a slice of hummingbird cake coming to $42.00!
Instead, I highly recommend the food stalls in the Market area. They have baked potatoes, freshly made Turkish gozleme, Dutch caramel wafers, gourmet ice cream, Japanese street food, woodfired pizza, and of course fairy floss. The ice-cream being sold near the Stage was absolutely incredible. I had the Salted Caramel, and words cannot describe the deliciousness. Another favourite of mine was the Dutch caramel wafers, which were home-made, perfectly warm, and absolutely lovely.
The tulips of course took centre stage, and just when you thought you had seen every colour combination imaginable, you would discover another which was equally mesmerising, and before we knew it we were also partaking in the whole selfie-ritual.
Wondering around the Tulip Festival, we discovered the beautiful little glazed clay mushrooms in the Fairy Hollow, the small Dutch Windmills in around the base of giant trees, little cottages for the kiddies, a William Rickett sculpture, and many stalls selling anything tulip-y, from pots of tulips to tulip souvenirs.
It really was a wonderful day, which made me realise how incredible nature is, for it to draw so many people together to celebrate its beauty, appreciating something so seemingly simple, yet so stunningly beautiful. The perfect tulip.