I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Escape the city and immerse yourself in nature's beauty
As the cool weather of winter finally draws to a close, and gradually warmth and sunlight reclaim our days, it's not long before the beautiful, vibrantly-coloured faces of our local wildflowers appear to charm and astound us. Western Australia boasts some of the most unique and spectacular wildflowers in the world, and this diversity is most apparent between August and November each year: a time which is known locally as 'wildflower season'. Beginning first in the warmer northern parts of the state, the 'season' arrives later in the colder southern regions, as spring slowly spreads its influence.
To promote and celebrate these spectacular natural displays, various festivals and other events are organised throughout the state. While the largest and most famous of these is the annual Kings Park Wildflower Festival in Perth City, smaller events in regional centres also provide wonderful opportunities for wildflower viewing, along with warm, friendly country hospitality.
Western Australia's wildflower season can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. For Perth residents, a wonderful way to appreciate local displays is to go for a bushwalk in the Perth Hills. My family and I frequently go hiking in the John Forrest National Park, and can attest, first hand, to the beautiful assortment of flowers which can be seen there: vibrantly-coloured wattles, exotic kangaroo paws and banksias, various kinds of exquisite orchids, and valleys full of fragrant freesias, to name but a few.
A day-trip out of the city, or a weekend escape to visit a special wildflower event in the country are other ways to make the most of this special time of the year. If you have the time and resources, longer trips into more remote areas can also be very rewarding. The following list is a summary of some of the main events which are held around Western Australia.
Mullewa Wildflower Show (August 26 – September 2, 2012)
Mullewa, a small rural hamlet situated approximately 85km east of Geraldton has hosted a very popular wildflower show for the last 25 years. The show is situated in the Town Hall on Maitland Road, and features a spectacular display of local plants and wildflowers in a beautiful bushland setting, as well as a variety of labelled specimen. Contact the Mullewa Community Resource Centre for more information on 08 9961 1500 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Refreshments are available, courtesy of local church groups. Souvenirs are also available. Admission is $6.00 for adults, $4.00 for pensioners / seniors and $1.00 for children.
Kings Park Festival (September 1 – October 1, 2012)
This festival is the biggest and best-known of Western Australia's wildflower events. Situated in spectacular Kings Park in Perth City, it features an astonishing variety of events, in addition to the beautiful wildflower displays which are planted throughout the park. Special activities which coincide with the Kings Park Festival include guided walks, exhibitions, workshops and interpretive artworks. There are also plenty of family activities, so children will also have the opportunity to learn about Western Australia's unique floral heritage in a fun, dynamic way. For more information, check out the Kings Park Wildflower Festival website.
For avid gardeners, the Friends of Kings Park will be holding one of their four yearly native plant sales from Saturday 29th September until Monday, 1st October, 2012 from 10am until 4pm. For more information, including the location of the sale, go to the Friends of Kings Park website or give them a call at 08 9480 3679.
Celebration of Mount Barker Wildflowers (September 1 – October 30, 2012)
This wildflower spectacular is located at beautiful Banksia Farm, on Pearce Street, Mount Barker: just 53km north of Albany, in the Great Southern region. The farm is a scenic 11 acre arboretum featuring all 78 species of Banksias, most of the 98 species of Dryandras, and various other exquisite native flora, as well as a large and diverse variety of native bird-life. In addition to enjoying bushwalks and the wildflower displays, visitors can also obtain free advice about the best local spots for seeing wildflowers, admire beautiful botanical photographs and works of art, browse through books, and enjoy some delicious refreshments. Opening hours are from 9.30am until 6.30pm daily. For more information call 08 9851 1770, email email@example.com or check out Banksia Farm's website.
Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show (September 8 –22, 2012)
Ravensthorpe, a tiny hamlet situated on the South Coast Highway between Albany and Esperance, plays host for this wonderful wildflower extravaganza which highlights the incredible biodiversity of this unique and pristine region. The Show, which has now been running for 30 consecutive years, is located at Ravensthorpe Senior Citizen's Centre on Morgan Street, which is right next door to the town's herbarium.
A wide range of activities are being organised for the Show's duration including escorted walks and 'tag-along' 4 wheel drive tours through the rugged Ravensthorpe Range: activities which will be especially appealing to photographers and nature enthusiasts. In addition, the Ravensthorpe Herbarium will feature beautiful labelled displays of local flora, while refreshments will be provided by local community groups at the historical Community Centre. There will also be a Wildflower Show Shop selling lots of goodies such as books, cards and local crafts.
Chittering Wildflower Festival (September 13 – 16, 2012)
Less than an hour away from Perth, Bindoon in the beautiful Chittering Valley is a perfect spot for a day-trip or weekend escape from the city. From the 13th to the 16th of September, the Chittering Wildflower Festival makes it an even more attractive destination, as there are a multitude of fun and informative activities and events to keep even the fussiest visitor entertained. To find out more about the festival, check out this website, or call the friendly folks at the Chittering Visitors Centre on 08 9576 1100.
Located at Wubin Town Hall, Wubin Wildflower Show is an annual event which extends over four days, celebrating the unique flora of the district. In addition to a central display, the Show will also highlight the beautiful varieties of Orchid, Wattle, Grevillea, Acacia, Melaleuca and other flowering plants which are found in the area, such as the unusual wreath flower.
Wubin is situated approximately 272km north of Perth on the Wildflower Way, a route which extends up to Mullewa. With the spectacular displays of wildflowers, it's definitely a terrific road trip at this time of the year: an ideal way to escape the city rat-race. For more information about Wubin Wildflower Show, call 0427 553 622.
Indigenous Wildflower Walk (September 15, 2012)
This special event gives wildflower enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the spring blooms from the Noongar perspective. The walk will take place from 9am until 11am at the Denis De Young Park in Banjup, approximately 30km south-east of the CBD, and will be guided by Indigenous people who are familiar with the plants and flowers which grow in the local region. For personal comfort, wear suitable walking shoes and carry a drink bottle. This event is free of charge.
Ongerup Wildflower Display (September 17 – October 7, 2012)
Over 1300 species of flowers are found in the Ongerup region. The Ongerup Wildflower Display is held annually at the Ongerup/Needilup District Museum on Eldridge Street: an event which attracts visiting botanists as well as amateur enthusiasts. Entrance is $3.00. For more information call Vicki O'Neill on 08 9828 2282.
Kojanup Wildflower Bloom Festival (September 28 – October 3, 2012)
Located in the south-west of Western Australia, just three hours from Perth, Kojanup is a picturesque little town surrounded by farmland and several bushland reserves. Kojanup Wildflower Bloom Festival is located at Kodja Place Visitor and Interpretation Centre, a wonderful space created the local community 'to explore and present its common story', thereby facilitating reconciliation between people of Indigenous and other backgrounds.
The Festival will feature a wonderful assortment of wildflowers which are found in the local area, including over 400 named species. Over 30 events are being organised to run during the festival, so there'll be plenty to keep the whole family entertained. For avid gardeners, four local sustainable gardens will be open for visitors, and for craft-lovers, there will also be an 'Airing of the Quilts'. In addition, kids will love the tourist railway which will be also be operating.
Flourish Margaret River (October, 2012)
This exciting festival not only celebrates the beautiful wildflowers which are found in the Margaret River area, but also the region's biodiversity: the unique mixture of plants, animals and micro organisms which are found here. Many nature-based activities are being organised to coincide with the Flourish Festival, including guided wildflower tours around some of Margaret River's spectacular and famous limestone caves, wildflower photography workshops, an expo and a biodiversity symposium. For more information, go to the Flourish Festival website, and sign up for their e-newsletter to receive regular updates.
For more invaluable information about Western Australia's wonderful wildflowers, Tourism Western Australia publishes a terrific eGuide each year called the Wildflower Holiday Guide, which I highly recommend. As well as containing information about the wildflowers which are unique to each region, it also suggests national parks and scenic drives throughout the state where displays can be easily seen, as well as listing regional wildflower events.