Tulips in Tasmania - Tulip Festival
Tasmania offers many spectacular sights – snow-capped mountains, wild ocean cliffs, migrating whales and World Heritage listed architecture – but they all start to look a bit plain at the end of September when the tulips appear.
Appropriate for a land mass named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman (the first European to land here, back when Australia was called New Holland), Tasmania's tulip season is world-renowned. In fact, these days, bulbs grown in the fertile volcanic soil of Table Cape on the north-west coast are exported to the Netherlands.
Dating back around 13 million years in geological terms, the Cape was once a crater filled to the brim with molten basalt. It eventually solidified into the plateau that's now home to the 90-acre Table Cape Tulip Farm. Founded in 1984 when the Roberts-Thomson family first imported bulbs from Holland, Table Cape now grows more than 80 varieties, as well as Dutch Iris and Liliums.
The plateau, with its 180-metre sea bluff, shelters the coastal town of Wynyard, where thousands visit in late September and early October for the annual Bloomin' Tulips Festival. The three-week event is flower themed, although community activities also extend to stilt walkers, steam-powered carousel rides and film screenings.
The undisputed highlight is Festival Day, when the program culminates in a fireworks display across the Inglis River. Table Cape Tulip Farm runs open days throughout the three-week season, offering visitors the chance to wander through the flower fields or dabble in a bit of floral arrangement and bulb education.
October is just as spectacular down south, when the Spring Community Festival pops up in Hobart's Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. Formally known as the 'Spring Tulip Festival', it was given a new name because (being flowers) the tulips didn't always appear on schedule.
Early October is your best chance – but if you miss the breathtaking carpet of blooms don't worry, the gardens are also home to the southern hemisphere's largest conifer collection and a fascinating 'sub Antarctic' plant house – not to mention a carnival of food and music during festival season.