Head south to avoid the winter chill, it’s spring down under
At a time when leaves are falling and trees getting bare in most parts of the world, in another part, spring flowers are nudging their way out of the earth and fresh green leaves are bursting forth. It’s spring in Australia, and the months are September to November. Australia is in the southern hemisphere hence it is spring here now. So when it is autumn in most parts of the globe, it is a great time to visit Down Under. Australia in Spring has a fantastic line-up of flower festivals, spring activities and interesting events to catch.
What to expect
Australian spring, like anywhere in the world, is the best time to catch nature at her best. Beautiful flowers run riot everywhere. Parks attract more crowds and this is the time just before the peak tourist season. Spring in Australia is the precursor to the sweltering Australian summer. In the northern parts of Australia, which enjoy a tropical climate, the weather is warm and gearing up for the rains. In general it gets cooler as you travel from north to south in the country. So if you are heading for the beaches, avoid the ones in the south till mid or late spring. The average temperatures in mid-spring range from 22 degrees C during day time to 10 degrees C at night. Rainfall ranges from 69 – 81 mm in a month.
Top spring events and places to visit
Floriade Flower Festival
Canberra’s Floriade is truly a celebration of spring. Australia’s biggest and most renowned flower festival, it is held from mid-September to mid-October. Millions of spring flowers, artistic horticultural displays and entertainment make this event a draw for 400,000 visitors each year. Tulips, irises, daffodils, daisies and hordes of other colourful blooms fill the atmosphere with their fragrance and beauty. Workshops, concerts, craft markets, food and fun make this an event to remember.
Other popular flower festivals are the Kings Park Festival (Perth), Tulip Time Festival (New South Wales), Wildflower Festival (Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranbourne), Carnival of Flowers (Queensland) and the Tulip Festivals in Tasmania.
The Melbourne Cup is the highlight of the three-month long Spring Racing Carnival. Held on the first Tuesday in November every year, the event is described as the ‘race that stops a nation’. A public holiday in Victoria where it is held, it is Australia’s leading horse race with whopping prize money of 6 million Australian dollars. Associated with glamour, fashion and feverish betting, it is a day of high pitch excitement and festivities.
The 135 million year old World Heritage Daintree Rainforest is a tropical rainforest near Daintree, Queensland. Home to 430 species of birds, it also has the largest range of animals and plants on the planet. Spring is a good time to visit this amazing forest. Here you can see the amazing 600 million year old zamia fern, spot colourful butterflies, crocodiles and visit the sacred waterfall with healing waters. Do not miss going on a tour with the native Kuku Yalanji people who have been living here integrally twined with the forest for over 9000 years.
The magic of spring is alive in the lushness of the Margaret River at this season. This south-west corner of Australia is full of lovely scenes. The South West, Goldfields and lovely beaches are all popular with tourists. Visit Eagle Bay, snorkel in Bunker Bay and head to Geographe Bay for whale watching. Margaret River is a world class surfing destination; surf lovers can head to Surfers Point, Three Bears and Redgate. A walk through the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park will reveal lovely wildflowers in all their colours. While in the park, do not miss the stunning Mammoth, Lake and Jewel Caves. Last but not the least, this is a wine region, so do not miss visiting the local wineries and delicious tastings.
The colours of spring burst forth in the thousands of wildflowers, which bloom in Kangaroo Island making it a lovely place to visit during this season. Choose any of the popular walking trails and you will be overwhelmed by the profusion of colourful flowers-wattles, bottlebrush, bush flowers and native orchids. More than 100 varieties bloom here, 40 of which are unique to the island. Kangaroo Island is also a wildlife hot spot. This is also the place to see penguins, wallabies, sea-lions, koalas, kangaroos, platypus and many other fascinating animals.
Tasmania is a flower paradise in spring. Gardens everywhere are filled with colourful, fragrant blooms. There is enough to satisfy the most ardent flower lovers – the gardens of Huonville and Richmond, the Hobart’s Spring Tulip Festival, Tulip festival in Wynard, Daffodil Walk in Launceston’s Cataract Gorge, parks in Port Arthur, the world’s largest lavender plantation in Nabowla and the 4000 roses of the Longford rose garden.
Fishing in the Barra Build-up, Northern Territory
The build-up fishing season, lasting from October to December, is a great time to catch the famed barramundi fish. This fresh water fish is greatly prized for its large size and taste. During the build-up, a profusion of barramundis are to be found in the Darwin Harbour area, the billabongs and estuaries of the Top End. One can also fish for golden snapper, black jewfish, saratoga and tarpon. The Mary River system is one of the hotspots for barra fishing; however one needs to be extremely wary of crocodiles here. Several fishing tournaments held here around this time. It might interest you to know that the Barramundi, on reaching 90 cm length, changes its sex and becomes a female! (A reason, anglers simply photograph the larger barramundis and release it.)
Spring Events, Hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley, two hours north of Sydney, is famous for its wineries. It has more than 150 wineries and wine tours are extremely popular here. Worth visiting here is the Festival of Flowers that showcases more than a million bulbs and annuals and is truly a visual feast. The floral displays, themed gardens, workshops and entertainment make this an event worth visiting. For music lovers, the not to be missed events are Bimbadgen Blues, Opera in the Vineyards and Jazz in the Vines. The Wollombi Valley Wine Trail offers the fantastic sculpture in the vineyards and great wine samplings. The delicious local cuisine will add flavour to your whole visit.
Other Spring Activities
Sydney is a popular spring destination as it enjoys its driest months during spring. This is the best time to visit the famous Sydney beaches. You can enjoy surfing in Bells Beach, Manly, Byron Bay or the Gold Coast. Go on walking tours, visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, go fishing, hand-gliding or para-gliding. Spring in Australia is also the best time to go kayaking and canoeing. The meandering Blackwood River and the Coorong River waterways are both ideal spots for canoeing.
Australia in spring is fun. Keep in mind that though spring normally means good weather, the huge size of the country can mean variations in weather. The best tip for clothes packing is layering. Throw in some quick drying clothes, swim suit, good walking shoes and sunscreen. Now you are all set for whatever the weather brings. Do not forget to leave your worries at home to enjoy the delights of Australia in spring.