Some people come for giant trees, others for rare rainforest and mighty Huon pines. Bulb fans, however, come to Tasmania in spring for tulips.
The explosion of intense colour is a short, dazzling event. These wildflowers from Central Asia bloom for only a month or so, from late September to the end of October at Tasmania’s tulip farms. And when they do, the spectacle attracts flower lovers from far and wide.
People get very excited about tulips. It’s the intensity of the colour, the way they grow and the shortish season.
Dave Roberts-Thomson, tulip grower
The town of Wynyard in the island’s north-west is the centre of Tasmania’s tulip extravaganza. The fields of Table Cape Tulip Farm are located at nearby Table Cape, a flat, extinct volcanic plug with dramatic cliffs dropping 180m into Bass Strait. The technicoloured fields are all the more striking for their rugged blue backdrop.
The farm has been owned by the Roberts-Thomson family since 1910. They imported their first tulip bulbs from the Netherlands in 1984 and now their business, Van Diemen Quality Bulbs, supplies bulbs of tulips, Dutch iris and liliums to gardeners around the world.
But it’s the flowers that attract travellers, and this is the only Tasmanian farm that opens its fields in season so tulip fans can wander and enjoy the velvety blooms.
“People get very excited about tulips,” says Dave Roberts-Thomson. “It’s the intensity of the colour, the way they grow and the shortish season, it really draws people to them. They’re really special because of their short lifespan.”
The farm grows three to four hectares of tulips each year, on a four-year field rotation for soil health - “which people like because they can come back and get different photos”, says Roberts-Thomson. Depending on the position of the flowers, the nearby Table Cape Lighthouse provides stunning panoramas.
While the tulips are in bloom, the farm operates a cafe and sells bulbs, potted plants and bunches of flowers.
The local council, meanwhile, runs the Bloomin’ Tulip Festival in October, with food, music, art and entertainment in Wynyard, a 5min drive away.
Even though he’s grown up among the tulips, Roberts-Thomson never tires of them.
“I don’t think there’s anything else much like walking in that expanse of colour in a natural form - it’s just so amazing,” he says.
“We only experience it, like everyone else, for a short period a year and it’s still amazing to us.”