Sydney’s purple festival has arrived! All throughout our harbour city, these gorgeous lavender-hued trees are popping up on bustling avenues, lining harbour foreshores, turning up in local parks and street corners. With the warm weather and long days, now’s the perfect time to catch the purple haze and marvel as it transforms our city and suburbs. Whether you’re staying local or planning a full day of jacaranda spotting, check out our list of family-friendly locations where you can see the jacarandas in bloom this October.
Circular Quay & The Rocks
Harbourside views and purple flowers? It’s a match made in family weekend heaven. Circular Quay and The Rocks provide a jacaranda-inspired day out where kids and adults get a bit of everything: a trip into town, a wander around the cobblestone streets of The Rocks, perhaps an ice-cream at one of the many ice-creameries dotting Circular Quay foreshore, along with jacaranda spotting at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
There’s also the MCA to pop into for a quick art break if attention spans are waning, as well as Gateway Sydney for family-friendly bites that won’t break the bank – think Betty’s Burgers, Mad Mex and Din Tai Fung.
Some say McDougall Street put jacaranda season on the Sydney map. One visit there and it’s no surprise why – picture harbourside streets filled with archways of trees forming canopies of magical purple flowers. In fact so popular is the street that it’s been dubbed the Jacaranda Street Instagram tunnel.
The downside is that McDougall Street’s fame has made it a destination for everyone from newlyweds capturing bridal party snaps to ‘grammers and international visitors wanting a slice of the floral magic. Oh and parking can be a nightmare. Even without jacaranda season. So plan ahead, or better still leave the car at home and take the train. The main jacaranda streets – McDougall Street, Carabella Street, Kirribilli Ave – are an easy 10-minute walk from Milsons Point station.
If you’re in Kirribilli, pop by Cool Mac – big brother to Kūrumac on Marrickville’s Addison Road – for a delicious eggplant katsu ‘sando’. Think fluffy white Japanese bread crammed with moreish panko-crumbed eggplant and tartare, or a Nikki Udon – soy braised wagyu served with a light dashi broth, slippery udon and topped with a gently poached 63 degree egg.
Tip: Go early in the morning, late in the afternoon or on weekdays to avoid the crowds that peak in mid-October.
Lavender Bay & Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden
It’s tempting to think Lavender Bay may have been named for the ubiquitous purple-hued trees that dot this delightful harbourside suburb. In fact, it was named after the Boatswain (think deck boss), George Lavender from the prison hulk ‘Phoenix’, which was moored in the bay for many years and who made his home in the area. Whatever its history, Lavender Bay – home to many a jacaranda tree – along with Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden is one of the lower north shore’s hidden gems for enjoying jacaranda season.
Filled with whimsical paths and hidden nooks, kids will fall in love with Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, an oasis of greenery perched on the edge of the bay. Got a child who’s studying art? Be sure to point out some of the vistas captured by Brett Whiteley in his iconic Sydney Harbour paintings. Built up an appetite? Nip into LouLou Sydney’s Boulangerie for a freshly baked croissant or baguette (they’re open from 7am for early risers) or their Bistro for an elegant French dining experience – you’ll find classics like steak tartare, chicken liver parfait and steak frites.
Sydney University Quadrangle
Want a Harry Potter-theme to your jacaranda spotting? The Quadrangle at the University of Sydney feels like a set from Harry Potter with the added attraction of jacarandas in bloom. Neo-gothic sandstone buildings decorated with stained glass windows and dotted with gargoyle heads (look up if you don’t believe us) line the ‘quad’ creating a magical atmosphere that kids will enjoy. Want to make a day of it? Make the most of your visit and take a self-guided tour of the university campus or join a Heritage Tour to learn more about Australia’s first university and its historic buildings. Worked up a sweat? Head to nearby Victoria Park Pool for a quick outdoor dip, little ones will love the covered kiddy pool.
Camperdown, Newtown & Glebe
Inner West parents have been quietly enjoying jacaranda season for years – and no wonder why. From Glebe’s main retail strip to the residential streets of Newtown and Camperdown, there’s a jacaranda to be found on almost every street corner, not to mention backyard. But if spotting the odd tree during the school run doesn’t quite cut it, here’s our tip for making a day of it. Start at Glebe Point Road for some jacaranda bloom spotting and once you’ve had your fill (or the kids baulk at having another photo taken) head to the Markets at Glebe if you stop by on a Saturday (there’s a cluster of jacaranda trees there too). Out of bread? Pick up a loaf of divine sourdough at Sonoma. Pop into Gleebooks for a new tome, and then hit up one of many cafes on Glebe Point Road like Cafe Cibo and Small Talk for some afternoon refreshment.
Mum fancy a spot of luxe shopping to go with her lavender blooms? Then Paddo is the place to bring the family. Start at Paddington’s Oxford Street, Glenmore Road and Five Ways – great for the flowers, not to mention the fashion. Be sure not to miss The Intersection, the tree-lined point where Glenmore Road meets Oxford Street. This chic enclave is the home to high-end Australian designer boutiques and sits opposite the sprawling jacarandas on Victoria Barracks Lawn. Grab a coffee at Jackies Cafe or even a sunlit brunch in the leafy courtyard – pick from faves like ricotta pancakes or for something more luxe, try their lobster scrambled eggs. Nearby Woollahra and Double Bay also boast a stunning purple haze, along with the courtyard at historic Vaucluse House.
Prince Alfred Square & Parramatta Park
Just across the Parramatta river, a 3 minute drive from Parramatta’s mega-Westfield, Prince Alfred Square is a green oasis flanked by high-rise buildings in Sydney’s second largest city. It’s also a great spot to start your jacaranda spotting adventure in the Greater West. From the Square, a short stroll away is Parramatta Park – 87 hectares of green open space featuring historic sties, gorgeous gardens, picnic spots and playgrounds. It’s also your best bet for spotting arbors of jacaranda trees in bloom. Feel like making a day of it? Book a guided tour of convict-era buildings or explore the Park’s pre-colonial and colonial sites, Aboriginal heritage, or historic monuments at your own pace.
Grafton Jacaranda Festival
Heading out of town? Don’t miss Grafton’s annual Jacaranda Festival. So prevalent are these lilac trees, this Northern Rivers city a brisk drive from Coffs Harbour has made an entire festival out of it kicking off late October to early November each year. In addition to snapping the perfect ‘gram worthy pic (they even have a map listing the best spots for photos), you can also enjoy a Children’s Party, purple-themed Jacaranda Ball and Wine and Dine Long Lunch to name a few. And when you’re lilac’d out, there’s the delights of the Clarence Valley to explore (think beach side towns of Yamba and Iluka), whilst Byron is less than a 2 hour drive away.
Looking for more outdoor activities for the family this Spring? Check out our guide to the best family-friendly events and activities in Sydney this Spring here.
Got a hot tip on where to spot the Jacarandas this Spring? Leave a comment below or email us at email@example.com and tell us all about it. We love hearing about hidden gem locations in the Inner West and beyond.