The best autumn leaves in Australia
While we humans tend to drop it when it’s hot, deciduous trees drop leaves when it’s not!
As summer ends and things cool down autumn leaves put on their perennial show, delighting photographers and nature lovers alike with an explosion of colour. While autumn leaves aren’t as common in Australia as in the northern hemisphere, they’re around if you know where to look.
Whether you’re after the perfect photo or the perfect picnic, here’s a shortlist of the best autumn leaves in Australia. As far as timing goes, autumn leaves in Australia start to appear in early March, but the thick orange foliage you’re after is best enjoyed from late March to early May, depending on the local climate.
Blue Mountains, NSW
Just an hour’s drive west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are the first place you should visit to get your fill of red and gold this autumn. Autumn is great weather for camping in the Blue Mountains if you want to make a weekend of it.
As far as autumn leaves go, the main street of most mountain towns are lined with them… start with Blackheath, Leura, and Katoomba. If you feel like a drive along Bells Line of Road be sure to visit Mt Tomah botanic gardens, or Breenhold Gardens at Mt Wilson.
The NSW Central West is full of deciduous trees, and has some of the best autumn leaves in NSW. The main streets of Orange really are orange during the autumn months, and the surrounding region is gorgeous in warmer hues. Why not visit a few wineries while you’re out there?
If you’re not keen on the 3.5-hour drive to Orange, you could take the XPT from Central station.
The Southern Highlands are beautiful at the worst of times, but autumn turns the region into one of the most picturesque on the planet. As well as Bowral town the surrounding gardens are worth wandering through, with lots of deciduous trees lining their trails.
The region is also home to wineries, hikes, and deep valleys and campgrounds to the east (Bungonia national park is worth a visit). The Bowral Autumn Music festival is also worth attending if you’re a fan of classical music – it happens at the end of March each year.
Alpine High Country, Victoria
The Alpine High Country is the perfect spot to take in autumn, with an embarrassment of riches as far as autumn leaves go. The cooler regions are the natural home of deciduous trees after all, and towns like Beechworth, Harrietville, Yackandandah, and Bright each offer tasty fodder for autumn photographers and picnickers.
For a more immersive autumn experience, the Bright Autumn Festival happens at the end of April and the start of May. It’s a 10 day celebration of the incredible autumn colours the town is famous for.
Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, Victoria
You don’t need to drive far from Melbourne to experience the fiery passion of autumn leaves in Australia… Alfred Nichols Memorial Gardens in the Dandenong ranges is a 50 minute drive from the CBD. The gardens surround a 1930’s mansion called Burnham Beeches, built by the garden’s namesake Alfred Nicholas.
Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens have a wonderful mix of native evergreens and introduced deciduous trees that create a full spectrum of colour between March and May. The gardens are now run by a trust and entry is free, though donations are welcome.
Mount Tamborine Botanical Gardens, Queensland
Mount Tamborine, just an hour’s drive south of Brisbane, is full of deciduous autumn fallers. It’s no secret, with thousands making their way down each year to see the autumn leaves of red and gold.
Specifically, don’t miss the Mount Tamborine Botanical Gardens. The Japanese garden features a contingent of Japanese maples, spectacular in their autumn colours. In Japan the autumn maple season is just as famous as spring’s blooming cherry blossoms… head to the gardens and you’ll see why!
Toowoomba isn’t known as the garden city for nothing, and it’s the perfect place to visit when the autumn leaves start dropping. Here are the three best spots in Toowoomba to soak in autumn atmosphere:
- Picnic Point, where you can look over the Lockyer Valley and across to Tabletop Mountain. Two walking tracks start here of 2km and 5km long, with each winding through awesome autumn vistas.
- Redwood Park, a sprawling reserve with trees that shout the colour of the season. There are loads of picnic tables for those keen on packing lunch. The 3.8km Redwood Forest Walk and 1km Ferntree Gully Walk start here, and either will let you experience the full force of a Queensland autumn.
- Queens Park, right in the middle of Toowoomba, has a tonne of deciduous trees and ranks highly on the list of the best autumn leaves in Australia.
Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens, South Australia
When it comes to autumn leaves in South Australia, you can’t go past the Adelaide Hills. Already home to some of the most beautiful sights in the country, the hills also host some of Australia’s best autumn leaves.
Close to Adelaide are the Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens, and at autumn they absolutely shine, as entire sections of canopy turn a fiery red and orange. On a fine day, enjoy a picnic under the dappled autumn sun before taking in the view from the Mount Lofty Summit.
Image: SA Tourism Commission
Hahndorf, South Australia
Still in the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is a traditional German town that features on every tourist trail through the Adelaide Hills… for good reason. In any season, Hahndorf offers visitors an experience of the Hills like no other.
But through autumn, the main street is an explosion of colour, the reds and oranges reminiscent of the colours of the German flag. It’s a real sight to see, especially while enjoying a stein and schnitzel on the balcony of one of the local pubs.