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Falling for Foliage: Step into Nature’s Autumn Canvas at Mount Wilson

May 7, 2024

As the seasons turn and we dread the onset of Winter, it’s comforting to know that’s when the Hawkesbury and the Mountains really come into their own. In the words of author and poet Emily Bronte, “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree”.

An hour up Bells Line of Road from Richmond, Mount Wilson exudes a timeless charm with its rich history and breathtaking Autumn gardens. While also stunning in Spring, the autumnal colours are breathtaking – even if you aren’t a “garden” type. Mount Wilson is a fantastic destination for a family day trip.

Mount Wilson dates back to 1868 when it was surveyed by Edward Wyndham and later named after Bowie Wilson, the then NSW Secretary for Lands. The area quickly gained popularity as a summer escape from Sydney’s heat for the wealthy in the late 19th century. The extensive gardens planted around the houses took advantage of the volcanic soils, leaving behind historical landmarks such as St George’’s Church, and the house Withycombe, to name just two.

The first property established in Mt Wilson in 1875 was Wynstay, originally named Yarrawa. It was founded by Richard Wynne, the inaugural Mayor of Burwood, NSW, and the patron of the Wynne Art Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW. In the 1880s, he also built a Turkish bathhouse for his ailing wife, Mary Ann. The baths are now a museum on the property. 

A Family-Friendly Day Out

Mount Wilson is fantastic for the whole family for exploring numerous private gardens, local bushwalks and picnicking. To make the most of your visit, it’s important to note that there are no shops or cafes in the area. Visitors should bring their own lunch to enjoy at one of the delightful picnic spots. There are public toilets at Silva Plana, the Fire Station, Founders Corner, Waterfall Reserve, and Cathedral Reserve. While you can bring dogs to Mount Wilson, they aren’t allowed in the National Park or most gardens. 

The Enchanting Open Gardens

Mount Wilson has a wide variety of open gardens. The autumn colours hit their riotous peak around Anzac Day. Weekends can be busy with city tourists, but some gardens are also open daily midweek.  

For those who are happy to mingle with weekend crowds and enjoy people-watching, it can be almost as much fun as the gardens themselves. I have spotted Instagrammers and Tik-Tokkers toting portable change tents, switching wardrobes between photos or videos, and bridal parties mocking up wedding photos. It all adds to the delight.

Here’s a summary of the open gardens and their offerings. We were unable to contact some gardens to verify their admission price, but allow budget for entry to each garden in your planning.

Breenhold Gardens Mount Wilson

The heritage-listed Garden Estate of Breenhold at Mount Wilson is one of Australia’s most extensive privately owned garden properties, offering a unique experience for visitors. With 45 hectares of parkland and native bushland, there are wonderful surprises at every turn. The gardens were designed by the late Thomas Breen (Snr) and his wife Charlotte and were first planted in 1965.

Opening Hours: Daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm during the Autumn season, from 29th March to 26th May 2024.

Entry Fee: $17.50 per adult, $5.00 for children over 5 years old, and a family rate of $40.00 for 2 adults and 3 or more children.

Location: 29 The Avenue, Mount Wilson, NSW 2786, Australia

Merry Garth Gardens

This beautifully laid-out 2.5-hectare garden is surrounded by temperate rainforest and offers a captivating view across the mountains and deep valleys of the National Park. Keith and Libby Raines designed and planted the garden in 1978. There’s also a small nursery with a huge collection of cold-climate plants for purchase. 

Open Days: Every Wednesday throughout the year, all weekends in April, and the first two Sundays in May.

Opening Times: 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Entry: $5 per adult, Children free      

Location: Davies Lane to Galwey Lane, Mount Wilson

Yengo Sculpture Gardens

Yengo was first purchased in 1877, and its garden layout was overseen by Charles Moore, the Director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, and J.H. Maiden, the Government Botanist. The experimental garden boasts an alpine setting and is home to almost 150-year-old trees, including sequoia, cedar of Lebanon, and Spanish cork. Delightful sculptures crafted by renowned English artists Judith Holmes Drewry and Lloyd le Blanc are scattered throughout.

Open Days: By appointment (message via their Facebook page)

Entry: $10 per adult, $3 for children under 12

Location: 19 Queens Ave, Mount Wilson NSW 2786

Nooroo Garden

With 140 years of horticultural history, Nooroo Garden showcases the beauty of plant and flower species from across the world, as well as Australian native plants. Nooroo was first planted in 1880 by William Hay, and original plantings include English oaks, chestnuts, ash, and cedars. The autumn colours are at their best in the ten days after 25th April.

Opening Hours: Open every day from 29th March to 26th May 2024 for the Autumnseason.

Entry Fee: $10 for adults, $2.50 for children up to 12 years old

Location: Church Lane, Mount Wilson, NSW, Australia

Bebeah

This 12-acre garden estate, built in 1880 by William Cox, has been rejuvenated into a rare Australian example of a formal country garden estate. It boasts meticulously designed landscapes and magnificent specimen trees.

Open Hours: Most of the year (10am-4pm)

Entry Fee: $10 for adults, $2.00 for children 

Location: 60 The Avenue, Mount Wilson NSW 2786

Windyridge

Voted one of Australia’s most beautiful gardens, Windyridge offers an extensive range of cool-climate plants, sells delicious scones and homemade cakes made by local chef Shereen Laing during the Autumn season, and boasts a small on-site nursery. Well- behaved, on-leash dogs are allowed into the gardens. You are also welcome to eat your picnic in the gardens (but please take your rubbish away!)

Opening Hours: Open every day from 8:00 am

Entry Fee: $12.50 per adult and $3 for children.

Location: 25 Queens Ave, Mount Wilson, NSW 2786

If you are lost for ideas as the weather gets cold, pack your picnic baskets, gather your loved ones, and immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Mount Wilson’s autumn gardens.

 

 

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