Ballarat Begonia Festival

The Culture, The Sights

Over the 3-day weekend that we were in Ballarat, the famous Ballarat Begonia Festival was happening.  It is the largest begonia show in the southern hemisphere.

The festival takes over the Ballarat Botanic Gardens on the shores of Lake Wendouree.

Just the Botanic Gardens were beautiful with lots of amazing and colorful beds as well as some incredibly old and enormous gum trees.  I especially liked the Australian animal topiary!

Another fun installation at the Botanic Gardens were the flower crowns on the statues of former Prime Ministers.  Some pull off the flowers better than others.

Now, on to the main event.  Inside the conservatory was the main begonia display.  It wasn’t anything flashy, but was simply gorgeous begonias in vivid shades.  My favorite was the almost neon orange one, while my parents liked any of the two-toned begonias.

Another main display was the “Arborsculpture.”  These trees’ trunks were sculpted throughout the growing process to make fantastic shapes and patterns.  It was something I had never seen before, but was completely enthralled by.

Art made from (and based on) flowers also featured in a different display.

Vendors, of course, were a dime a dozen.  Flowers, gardening tools, and lawn decorations made up the majority of the items.  Metal lawn decorations were being sold by quite a few different stalls, including animals made from old metal pieces.

Alongside the Botanic Gardens runs a tram route which various vintage trams offer rides on.  The tram we happened to hop on was the oldest, from 1926, and an original Ballarat tram, unlike some of the others from Melbourne or Geelong.  There was a dressed-up conductor, as there would have been, who handed out and punched tickets–a fun step back in time.

The fish hatchery that borders the Botanic Gardens was open for public inspection, which is otherwise not the case.  There were dozens of ponds with different ages of fish residing in each.  The local cormorant population loves to eat the fish, so nets have to cover all of the ponds.

On Monday, which was Labor Day here, there was the Begonia Festival Parade.  The Parade had less to do with begonias and more to do with local clubs and organizations.  Nevertheless, it was still full of entertainment and fun.

 

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