Friday, 7 October 2011

Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee, NSW

Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee
Kaybunda Lavender Fields is  one of those places I have heard about about but never quite gotten to. I have meant to see it since moving to Cootamundra so with the smell of Spring on the breeze, I decided it was time to hit the road and see what it was all about. The Lavender Fields are situated a short drive from Junee township and I must say I was a little bit disappointed to see that the 'fields' were more of a smallish paddock of straggly plants...BUT there is a little more to this story. 
Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee
Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee
I initially hesitated, feeling like an intruder wandering around somebody's private garden but considering the 40 minute drive I had just made, I pushed on. I'm glad I did. The truth behind the fields' lacklustre appearance is that the previous owner became ill and didn't have much time to put into the gardens. Step in a family relocating to Junee from Queensland who have taken on the venture and, it seems, are determined to make it work!
Products on display, Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee

Products on display, Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee

Dried lavender bunches, Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee
Three generations were there when I visited and a bunch of nicer people you could never hope to meet. I asked to see the gift shop and was pleased to see that crammed into the relatively small space, there were several dozen different types of products showcasing Kaybunda's lavender. From lavender lollies (shockingly yummy!) to pet deodorant, from dried flowers to furniture polish, bath salts, lotions and potions, all was available to try before you buy. This was a good tactic because everything was so lovely and I ended up spending up big. All the while, the new owners outlined their plans and hopes for the future of Kaybunda Lavender Fields. They are planning to provide easier access to the garden, add a pergola, expand the store and, most importantly, get the lavender back to its beautiful best.
Lavender, Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee
Rosemary, Kaybunda Lavender Fields, Junee
So whilst you certainly wouldn't need a whole day to see Kaybundah, if you are near Junee and looking for some lavender scented gifts (or even a little treat for yourself), really consider stopping by to support the Kaybunda Lavender Fields. With any luck, it is a place that will become bigger and better with time!

Kaybunda Lavender Fields is located at 126 Murrulebale Road, Old Junee (about a five minute drive from town).

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Boorowa Irish Woolfest (Running of the Sheep)

Running of the sheep, Boorowa Irish Woolfest
Whilst Pamplona in Spain may grab the world's attention for the annual running of the bulls, a sleepy town on the South West Slopes of New South Wales has its own quirky tradition - the running of the sheep. The running of the sheep is part of Boorowa's Irish Woolfest which pays homage to the town's Irish history and the strength of the sheep and wool industry in this area.
Pipe band, Boorowa Irish Woolfest
Antique tractors, Boorowa Irish Woolfest
The Boorowa Irish Woolfest sees the tiny town's population swell and this year, estimates were that 18,500 people visited for the event. Thankfully, the rain which arrived just in time to give thirsty crops a drink had the courtesy to stay away for the festival. Talented artists, craftspeople, cooks and growers had their products for sale creating a real carnival atmosphere with many doing a brisk trade.

There is absolutely no denying that the sheep are the stars of the day though with crowds packed shoulder to shoulder and several deep the entire length of the street to cheer them on. At 12pm sharp, they gamely barrelled the length of the road to cheers and cameras flashing - they have even been the focus of a documentary which will be broadcast to an estimated audience of 30 million in China! 
Prize merino fleece, Boorowa Irish Woolfest
The sheep were followed by a parade with a focus on all things Irish and all things country - basically, lots of celtic pipe bands, lots of sheep and LOTS of the ubiquitous tractors which seem to have a habit of turning up at every festival in country New South Wales!
Common Ground Bakery artisan bread, Boorowa Irish Woolfest
Local olives, Boorowa Irish Woolfest 
Crafts, Boorowa Irish Woolfest
Overall, the Boorowa Irish Woolfest and the running of the sheep offered up plenty to do - in addition to the market stalls, most shops in town were open for the day as well as some rides for the kids, live music and plenty of food from sausage sizzles through to sit down meals. If you are looking for an interesting story to tell your friends, pencil in midday on the Labour Day Long Weekend and make the trip to Boorowa for the Irish Woolfest running of the sheep!
Tumut Valley Violets, Boorowa Irish Woolfest

Design a Candle soy candles, Boorowa Irish Woolfest
Boorowa is located three and a half hours drive southwest of Sydney or one and a half hours drive north west of Canberra.

Useful links:

Boorowa Irish Woolfest Official site

Tumut Valley Violets

Common Ground Bakery

Doolan Country Jams

Floriade Nightfest, Canberra, ACT

Tulips, Floriade Nightfest, Canberra
By day, there is no denying that Floriade is beautiful but by night, it is a sensory experience which takes you way beyond just looking at thousands of flowers. For some reason, I found that the inky night sky blocked out distractions and the visual focus was on the flower beds themselves rather than the myriad of passing daytime distractions. 

The sharp crunch of gravel underfoot was interspersed with soft sploshes as my feet smashed into puddles, magnified by the darkness. Add to that the smell of damp earth, rain and flowers hanging on the petrified, icy cold air and the tingle of frost kissing your cheeks and it all combined to create a unusual experience. Maybe it is because usually, you garden in the daytime which made the Floriade Nightfest so special, maybe it was just having more time and less crowds so that each display could really be enjoyed. I'm not certain what the magic ingredient was, but I can heartily recommend Nightfest!
Tulips, Floriade Nightfest
Ferris wheel, fairy lights and flowers, Floriade, Canberra
As well as the flowers, Floriade Nightfest offers up some other suprises too with cooking and flower arranging demonstrations, movies on an inflatable outdoor screen, cocktail bars, and even the chance to have your hair and makeup done at Garnier World. Add the Floriade Nightfest market which offered up arts and crafts, candles, soap, clothing and a heap of interesting food stalls into the mix and the event really lived up to it's theme 'A feast for the senses.' 
Night market, Floriade Nightfest Canberra
Floral display, Floriade Nightfest, Canberra

Floriade and Floriade Nightfest are located within Commonwealth Park Park off Commonwealth Avenue and Parkes Way, Canberra. There are free shuttle buses from the Canberra CBD or it is an easy five minute walk from the city centre. Floriade runs annually from mid-September. (Remember to rug up because the Canberra nights at this time of year can still dip below freezing...brrr!)
Floriade Nightfest, Canberra
Lanterns, Floriade Nightfest

Useful Links:

Floriade Official site