Autumn 2020 will go down as one of the most anticipated seasons in Australian history. Cool breezes, clean air and quenching rain are on our radar and offer a healing prospect of reconnecting with an outdoors world that has given rise to unprecedented anguish.
Modestly populated towns like Glenlyon, Drummond and Kingston turn on an impossibly colourful spectacle as the scorched countryside becomes green and the early evening sky glows with sorbet hues. Their Avenues of Honour provide a leafy welcome for visitors and are among more than 300 living memorials in Victoria that recognise those who served in the First World War.
Kingston, between Daylesford and Creswick, recorded a population of 177 in 2016 and is possibly the only town that has a song about its Avenue of Honour. Available on CD, it was written by Neil Adam and performed by local residents backed by the Creswick Brass Band. Around 20 years ago, Brian Reasons instigated a committee to resurrect the commemorative avenue planted in 1918. “We thought we might get 20 or 30 people along to the first working bee and about 150 turned up!”
President of Kingston, Friends of the Avenue, Julie Baulch, says theirs is one of the most intact avenues of honour in Australia. The 268 elm trees comprise Dutch, Canadian and Scottish species. And they will soon be a vision of gold.
Majestic stands of trees also elevate the towns of Daylesford and Macedon, where gardening identity Stephen Ryan lives and runs a nursery, Dicksonia Rare Plants behind the Trading Post in Mt Macedon. “It is a wonderfully relaxed and mellow time of year after the torridness of summer. A cool climate zone like this provides diversity in the garden, and the autumn colour we get from Japanese Maples and Dogwoods is like a swansong before the winter.”
Kyneton Botanical Gardens has 17 trees listed on the National Trust Register of Significant Trees including one of the best examples of the endangered Chilean Wine Palm. It stands just inside the front gate. According to Ann Tomlinson, who spearheaded a campaign to revitalise the gardens in 2005, better access to funding has enabled more progress on the development and preservation of a landmark asset important for its aesthetic, environmental, social and educational values.
Friends of the Malmsbury Gardens and Environs secretary, Paula Needham, says a central lake draws people to the gardens and, in autumn, reflects the kaleidoscope surrounds. She evokes a brilliant vista of large Blue Atlas Cedars contrasting with the yellow foliage of elms. It is also the season when Irish Strawberry trees produce panicles of white bell shaped flowers and ripe berries. Other attractions are a poplar walk, geese and swamp hens, and the 19th century operational viaduct which is Victoria’s largest masonry bridge.
North-East of Kyneton is Sidonia, home to the historic ‘Bringalbit’ property. Among the endless delights in its English, park-like setting, are mature conifers and oaks, a crab-apple walk, masses of perennials and a 60-metre Quince Walk.
Every shade of red, gold and purple get a guernsey in autumn gardens, and the region is blessed with outstanding private properties that open their gates periodically in addition to the free public spaces awaiting our enjoyment every day.
Nadine Hartnett is a freelance writer and the founding manager of the Macedon Ranges Art Trail.
DISCOVER OUR AUTUMN BEAUTY
Dicksonia Rare Plants stephenryan.com.au
Malmsbury Botanic Gardens
Glenlyon Historic Avenue of Trees
The Convent and Wombat Hill conventgallery.com.au
Romsey Claret Ash Avenue of Honour
Campaspe River Walk, Kyneton
Castlemaine Botanic Gardens
Kingston Avenue of Honour
To know exactly when to visit, check out the hashtag: #bestautumnescape.
This will show you the colours of autumn from visitors in the region, real-time.