Whenever I post an autumn landscape from Sydney, I get lots of surprised comments. Like, is there autumn in Australia, for real? I assure you, there is. The weather changes, the rains commence, the fogs wraps the world, and autumn leaf colors sometimes appear as well. The latter does not happen everywhere, but it sure does appear if you know where to look for the beautiful autumn leaf. Therefore, I have decided to do a quick overview of what I have witnessed this autumn in Sydney and surrounds.
Autumn in Australia: Mount Wilson
Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains is a well-known Mecca for Aussies, especially those from Sydney, to go to see some autumn leaves and colors somewhere in April or May. This year April has been too hot for the vivid colors to break in, hence the autumn is somewhat belated. Typically, the right time to stop by starts mid-April and goes on for a few weeks. This year, I went at the beginning of May and yellows and reds were starting to kick in.
Streets of Mount Wilson
One would think you need to go to the gardens to see some magic, but it isn’t the truth. The streets are equally enjoyable, especially The Avenue towards the end. When I came, I saw a good dozen of photographers hanging around creating their magical autumn landscapes. This street goes South-East at the end, and the Sun lightens up the trees from the side making long shadows and beautiful patterns.
There is also a church right there with some fantastic trees to photograph. There is no one in there, and the photographers keep coming in to make some shots and leave quietly.
Gardens of Mount Wilson
There are numerous gardens in the area. Every one of them is unique and special, and there is no way to visit all of them within a day. I’ve seen excellent photos from the Breenhold, Bebeah, and Sefton gardens. And I’m sure others are amazing as well. Typically, there is a money box at the entrance for you to put money upon entry. Some gardens are cheaper (gold coin), some are more expensive (up to $10). That’s the price to see autumn in Australia.
The one issue for photography is that gardens open well after the sunrise like 9-10 am. This timing means the best light is long past. However, there are few ways to alleviate it. One way is to shoot the streets and the entrances before the dawn and wait till the gardens open. The other one is to have a look if any gates are open and walk in. I assumed that open gates mean I’m welcome to come in and I was right. Around 10 am the owner just went through the garden to collect the money and didn’t have any issues with me being inside. It happened in the Sefton garden (one of the best for the autumn leaf colors, by the way).
The list of all the gardens is here: https://www.bluemts.com.au/news/blue-mountains-regional-autumn-gardens/
Where To Stay In Mount Wilson
There are three options on where to stay in Mount Wilson:
- Stay at the cottages right in town. That’s convenient but extremely expensive. And only works if you have a large company to share expenses. The official link is here: https://www.mtwilson.com.au/accommodation-gardens-properties-for-sale/accommodation
- Stay in a tent in the designated camping area in town. Free and cozy but only if you are a fan of camping. The name is Cathedral Reserve Camping Grounds. Just drive there and set up a tent. I haven’t tried to stay there but I’ve spent half an hour photographing the area, and the atmosphere seemed welcoming. There are a BBQ and a fireplace, but you’ll need to bring your own water, wood and toilet paper. The address is 117 Mount Irvine Rd, Mount Wilson NSW 2786.
- Stay out of town. The nearest convenient towns are Lithgow and Blackheath. The distance is approximately equal as well as the pricing. You can find a spot using a Booking or Airbnb sites and have all amenities some 30-40 minutes away from the autumn beauty of Mt Wilson.
Getting to the Mount Wilson
Getting there is simple – you need a car as there are no trains. The closest towns, as I have already said, are Blackheath and Lithgow. Penrith on the Sydney side of the mountains is twice as far, therefore, staying there doesn’t make much sense.
Pro tip: go early. The amount of traffic towards Mount Wilson is immense.
Autumn leaf colors in Blackheath
Blackheath is another destination with the beautiful autumn trees. In this town, the trees are only located in a park and some streets, there are no dedicated gardens. The best location I could find was Wentworth Street. Full of people and cars, this street offers a variety of colors ranging from bright yellow to vivid red and shiny orange. The park (Blackheath Gardens) I have mentioned before is also on this street.
The famous Blackheath attractions, such as Govetts Leap or Pulpit Rock, do not have any colorful trees, all stay green year round. Therefore, it’s not the best option for the autumn.
Autumn in Sydney – Royal National Park
Royal National Park seems huge and promising, but unfortunately, it’s full or evergreens. I was just able to spot a bunch of yellow trees in Audley, and they were near the buildings away from water. So, not much of an interest. However, autumn is not just about the yellows and reds. The idea is to find a river or a lake and wait for the foggy morning. I actually love such landscapes much more than a plain colorful environment. It’s mysterious and calm and soothes me with its silence.
So, find your closest calm body of water surrounded by the trees and wait for some fog. Please note, such area has higher humidity than the regular one and hence has a higher chance of getting morning fog. The additional bonus of such fall conditions is that the Sun could produce fantastic rays beaming through the branches.
Fall is a fantastic season, and even though autumn in Australia is harder to find, it does exist and offers relaxation for the eyes and soul.
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