Almost as soon as we landed in Australia, I noticed a superb tree completely bedecked in lavender coloured blooms. And then another. And then another!
I had seen jacaranda before, some in Hawaii and some in different botanic gardens around the world, but I had never seen so many nor seen so such fantastic specimens. Not only do they have a more massive blossom cover than I have ever seen but so many of these trees are old enough to have developed the most incredible gnarled and twisted branches. Gorgeous!
Then we came to New South Wales and they were not just here and there but everywhere! In fact, they are so plentiful at this time of year we were in time to visit the Jacaranda Festival in Grafton.
The festival itself was rather tame. I think we chose the wrong time of day. Although it is only October (the equivalent of April back home) the temperature at lunch time was already HOT! We had wondered why the parade and most festivities were in the evening. Now we know! The locals know how hot it can get even in October!
I still enjoyed the Antique Collections on display in the (hot) barn, and even more so the lapidary collections. A chance to see honest to goodness Australian opals in various stages of polish. Fascinating! I have fallen in love with boulder opals which are the (usually) dark, reddish brown stone with the magic bits of opal still imbedded within. I think there is a boulder opal in my future…
We also visited a wood carving exhibition and I was fascinated by, of course, the jacaranda wood. It is a pale blond colour and has the distinctive feature of being extremely lightweight. When you pick up a piece of jacaranda wood your hand automatically lifts too quickly! You were expecting something heavier!
It must be admitted though, the best thing we saw at Grafton’s Jacaranda Festival was.. the jacaranda. What a display! The whole town is purple! Even some of the street curbs are painted jacaranda purple. And the whole town is sweetly scented with the jacaranda’s gentle perfume. It was worth us poor Canadians braving what I’m sure the locals thought was a pleasantly warm day.