Autumn is the best time of the year for a weekend road trip. The leaves may not have quite yet turned, but now may be the perfect the time to plan a weekend getaway. The colours of deciduous leaves – orange, red, yellow – against the clean, clear blue sky of an Aussie autumn: nothing beats it.
While Australian native flora is largely evergreen, and some regions have been recently blistered by bushfires, there are still plenty of places you can still witness those wonderful, warm autumn colours.
Here are seven destinations where you can see the rainbow of falling leaves on a weekend getaway or an easy day-long drive.
South Australia: Adelaide Hills
Many may argue that the best time of year to visit this region is over summer, but it’s autumn when ‘The Hills’ really shine. Enjoy the warm oranges of the area’s orchards and vineyards, the brilliant crimson and honey-hued haven that is Hahndorf, soak up the sun in Stirling, park your car and wander through charming towns such as Aldgate, Crafers, Bridgewater and Mylor. A drive through the Piccadilly Valley should also be on your Adelaide autumn list, as should a visit to the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.
New South Wales: Orange and Bowral
Nicknamed ‘Australia’s Colour City’, it’s probably not far-fetched to think that a town named Orange would be known for its spectrum of stirring floral colour. A 3 1/2 hour drive from Sydney will net you some pretty special sights, tree-wise. The local council plants around 300 new trees in the town each year, meaning it’s one of the best places in the country to enjoy random bursts of seasonal colour.
Check out the Orange Botanic Gardens where you’ll witness fiery maple trees and rows of red and gold apple trees. Also try Robertson Park, Cook Park, Summer Street, Coronation Drive and Sampson Street, plus the summit at Mount Lindsay Park.
Further south is Bowral, once a preferred summer destination for Sydney’s elite and now, with the Autumn Open Gardens program, you can check out their private gardens, including those at Retford Park and Bellagio, along with many others each year.
Victoria: High Country
Bright undergoes an amazing transformation each year, which is probably why it’s the most well-known town in Victoria to spend an autumn weekend. There’s even the annual Bright Autumn Festival celebrating the colours and tastes of autumn, featuring everything from food and wine, to photography and music all leading up to the ultimate event – the Gala Weekend.
But don’t forget to check out the other gold-rush era towns in the High Country region – such as Beechworth, Harrietville, Yackandandah, Myrtleford, Mount Beauty, and Wandiligong for their own wonderful autumn displays.
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Western Australia: Blackwood River Valley
Just south of Perth lies the Blackwood River Valley, a lush hinterland region home to wonderful wildflowers which have their time on the spring sun, but in autumn, the valley turns to a brilliant gold.
Follow the road to Nannup and watch the spectrum of leaves change colour. Visit Golden Valley Tree Park, near Balingup, to see some of the most spectacular West Australian autumn foliage, in a 60-hectare space containing more than 3000 native and exotic trees. And it’s not just the trees that get in on the colour display, some native trees also shed their bark to reveal orange and pink colours beneath.
Hit the Toowoomba Autumn Leaf Trail, pick up a gourmet picnic and walk along one of the many tracks in ‘The Garden City’, such as the Redwood Forest Walk or the Ferntree Gully Walk. Or try an easy amble around Queens Park where you’ll see meticulously manicured floral displays, including trees planted in 1875 – all of which provide a richly coloured, sensational autumn experience. Start your Sunday (or end your weekend) in the peace and quiet of the University of Queensland’s Ju Raku Japanese Gardens, featuring water features, Zen gardens, pretty pathways and a mix of Japanese and native plants, plus and all the tranquillity you can take.
Tasmania: The turning of the fagus
Australia’s coldest state boasts a rugged beauty none other can equal, with berry farms, vineyards and orchards creating autumn colours aplenty. But there’s one tree that grows nowhere else that keeps Tassie at the top of the autumn weekend getaway list – the Nothofagus gunnii or ‘fagus’. Most of Australia’s autumn colours come from introduced European tress, but this one is one of ours and it’s endemic to Tasmania, making it even more special at this time of year. It’s so special, in fact, that autumn in Tassie – especially in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park – is known as ‘the turning of the fagus’ for its fiery red eruptions and brilliant orange and yellow bursts. It brings campers, hikers and photographers from all around the nation.
Other Tassie autumn hotspots are the Derwent Valley and the tiny village of Ross – don’t forget to try the famous bakeries when you’re there.
Canberra, well, Canberra (it’s not that big)
The Colours in the Courtyards of Parliament House may have just ended on 3 May), but it’s worth putting on your calendar for next year. You’ll be taken through eight of the iconic courtyards of the nation’s seat of power to view Japanese Maples, Gleditsia, Magnolia, Birch Trees, Maple, Linden Trees and Dogwood.
The National Arboretum is also a sight to behold, but you can also enjoy the amazing colours of autumn just by walking around the city and surrounding streets.
Friendship Street in Red Hill features fluorescent and bright red Chinese Pistache and Ebden Street in Ainslie boasts golden pin oaks. Also check out the Claret Ash in Atherton Street and Burn Street in Downer, the Red Oaks in La Perouse Street in Dickson and the Ornamental Pear at Lake Burley Griffin.
These are but a few ideal road trips, day trips or weekend getaways but you can find many more at www.big4.com.au
Do you have a favourite place to visit in autumn?