Mount Wilson Autumn Festival – My Experience
After some convincing I took the family to the Mt Wilson Autumn Festival this past week. Located about an hour’s drive from Richmond, which itself is about an hour’s drive from the heart of Sydney. After getting on Richmond road you continue on it until it turns into Bells Line of road, a semi scenic drive that cuts through a large swatch of the Blue Mountains National Park.
Being Autumn I was on a look out for Maple trees that are known to burst out in bright hues of reds, yellows and even purples at this time of the year. Unfortunately the drive itself had little to offer in the way of rich colours with evergreen natives being the predominant tree of choice.
We eventually took a right turn-off to Mount Wilson road that led us to the Festival town with the same name. I was under the impression that this was a two day event, but was corrected by Charmaine when she re-read the brochure. That could explain the large crowds I will touch on again later.
The festival officially started at 9am, which was the time I originally intended to sign in. But as any parent with young children will attest to, the time to get ready can never be guaranteed. We thankfully were only half an hour late, but I could tell already that the fleet of cars was building fast.
As we entered the main town centre a number of information/ traffic controllers were directing cars to various areas of the town. The Festival was hosting a total of 10 gardens with one scratched off late in the session. The tickets were oddly prices as
$8 per garden or
$20 for 3 gardens or
$40 for all 9 (originally 10)
I was have personally put a 5 garden option as well as the 9. As I learnt later it would be a Herculean task to see all 9 of the gardens. We were straddled with two young children, but even so we only managed to see 3 gardens, one of which we only saw a small part of, being the largest of all the gardens.
The information guide that walked up to our car gave us very helpful advice, to drive to the other end of town and see a garden or two there first, because the hoards of sightseers were congesting the entrance of the town and we would only add to it. We followed his suggested and headed through the town.
The first garden we saw was called ‘Bisley’. It is a 4 hectare garden with manicured hedges, a large pond with fish which Levi enjoyed feeding, nice ornaments and finally what I came there for in the first place , some bright Maples. The brochure that we received stated that the intention was to style it as an English country park. After lots of photos especially next to the Maples we left very content.
The second garden we visited and nearly didn’t get out of was ‘Merry Garth’ also located towards the back of the town. This garden was a lot smaller with much more confined walking paths. Part of the garden was the rain forest walk consisting of various ferns and banksias. One thing that stood out for me was that all the plants, trees and shrubbery were labeled. The garden marketed itself as containing rare plants. However for a novice such as me it was difficult to appreciate the exotic plants because I didn’t know what I was looking for. The garden has a small nursery which you can purchase some of the plants.
When we got back into the car we proceeded to drive out of the long single lane driveway, but got stuck because there was a line of cars heading out as well as trying to drive in. Usually there would be some give-way areas on the side of the road, but people decided to park their cars there. It was a bit of a showdown which eventually ended with the people entering deciding to reverse and try to park outside.
It was already the 2 in the afternoon at this point and we had one last garden to see. We settled on ‘Breenford’ and was I glad that we did. This garden was by far the largest one at the festival. Totaling an impressive 40 hectares, as I stated earlier we explored only a fraction of it.
The lady at the gates suggested we explore the area to the left and right of the main path first because it was the most mature part of the garden. Apparently the recent re-make of ‘The Great Gatsby’ was filmed inside this particular park.
I later told Charmaine that it would do no justice to the park to only spend an hour or so, a full day would be required to see all the beauty and craftsmanship that went into maintaining this behemoth.
I will say no more, and show the beauty of this park through some of the photos I took on the day.
In closing the festival is an absolute gem, and a great experience. My fondness for the Blue Mountain towns has been increasingly growing every time I visit one of them, and that day was no exception. Mt Wilson is a serene area of the Greater Sydney that everyone should visit.
I only wish the organizers of the event would increase the length of it to at least two days or perhaps a week. The amount of traffic and cars was a big pain-point and detracted from the day.