The Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival in Auburn Botanic Gardens is over for this year. Thinking back on about my experience there, I always smile. My morning didn’t quite turn out as expected.
Visiting the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival
A friend warned me. He said I’d be disappointed. “There aren’t many cherry blossoms” he warned. I was determined to see for myself. Long-time followers of this blog will know that I’ve visited the Auburn Botanic Gardens in autumn. On the day I went, there were only a few people around. I enjoyed wandering the little stone paths, appreciating the autumn colours and sitting by the Zen Garden.
This time the experience was very different, but no less enjoyable.
The Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival is Popular
Perhaps as a reaction to the pandemic people just want to get out, do something different. Or maybe the word has “got out” and everyone wants to experience a Cherry Blossom Festival in Sydney.
Whatever the reason, when I checked the website, and had to book in via a timed entry system, warning bells should have rung. I naively thought it was an attempt to manage social distancing. When I read about food trucks serving Japanese food and a pop-up mini golf I should have taken note.
Parking Problems Make Me Late
As I drove towards the entrance, it became obvious that the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival is a very popular event. Cars and even one or two busses crawled along looking for parking. The bowling club had a security person advising people that “this parking is for members only”.
I quickly walked the couple of blocks from where I was lucky to find a park. I was half an hour late for the entry time stated on my ticket. Security warned me that I had only twenty minutes to enjoy the Cherry Blossom loop walk before I’d “have to leave”.
There was a stream of people ahead of me and I uncharitably thought to myself that they’d have to find me.
Walking the Cherry Blossom Loop
A group of elderly folk pushing walking frames, in front of me realised that they couldn’t manage the few stairs and turned around. A stream of people snaked ahead into what is usually a secluded spot alongside a pool of still water.
A young woman, prettily dressed in a blue dress with tiny white flowers posed for a photograph on a rock beside the water. An older woman waved her selfie-stick around to ensure she had the pool in the background before taking her shot. Others jostled for a view.
It’s all about THE Photo
The penny dropped. I might be here for the cherry blossoms. Others were here for the photos.
A woman, dressed in a summery pink dress arranged herself beneath a tree covered in similarly coloured blossoms. The photographers (yes, there were two) composed their photograph through very long expensive lenses. I jokingly asked one of them if this was “for Instagram or for a publication?” “Maybe both” he replied.
I looked around and smiled. My friend was right. There were cherry blossoms. Enough to keep the Instagrammers happy, but certainly not as many as expected. The cherry blossoms were pretty. Pink and in full bloom. Bees hovered over the blooms and flitted from blossom to blossom. I drank in the scent and appreciated their beauty.
Dressing for The Occasion
But what I enjoyed more was watching the people and the effort they had made in preparation for “the photo”.
While I was dressed in jeans, comfortable shoes and a nice enough jumper, others had dressed up for the occasion. They’d thought carefully about their outfit, making sure it matched or blended in with the cherry blossoms. It seemed to be all about Instagram. Or a photo to send back home.
The security person at the entrance to a short path under a canopy of cherry blossoms urged people to keep moving. A woman and her partner stopped right in front of me in the middle of the path for a photo. I joked (a bit too loudly) that I should “make bunny ears with my fingers”. The woman laughingly replied that she should.
A young mum, pushing a pram, wore a straw boater style hat with a pastel pink ribbon, a cream jumper and pink chiffon skirt. She looked lovely against the blossoms. Four women in traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai posed alongside a decorative bridge. A stranger asked to be photographed with them. She particularly wanted the woman wearing the “modern design” next to her.
Further on another woman (they were all women – the men were conscripted into taking the photographs) posed holding a fan coyly beneath her chin. She wore a white kimono tied at the waist with a large red bow.
The security man didn’t need to come and find me at the end of the session. The Cherry Blossom loop is short, and I left the ticketed area after about half an hour. Looking back, I realise that I don’t even have one photo of the cherry blossoms themselves. I was too busy enjoying myself watching others.
Not all in Traditional Dress
Leaving the Japanese Garden area, I passed another woman. She’d adopted a 50s style of dress, her face painted and hair carefully styled. Strolling back to the car I noticed family group. They were all dressed up. The man in a suit, the woman in a cream-coloured satin dress and jacket, and the two young boys in their Sunday best. They looked as if they were going to a wedding. A family photo in the making.
I Had Fun
The Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival was fun but for reasons other than the cherry blossoms.
- The Auburn Botanic Gardens are located at 99 Chiswick Road, Auburn
- The Gardens are open 9am to 5pm everyday except Christmas Day. For more information see here
- Visit the fauna reserve and bird aviary and perhaps enjoy a picnic in the community picnic area
- Instead of picnicking, I recommend Khaybar Afghani Restaurant at 64 Auburn Rd. Parking at Auburn Central Shopping Centre.