HIGHLANDS FESTIVAL'S 150,000 TULIPS
THEY'RE already gearing-up in the Southern Highlands of NSW for this year's annual September Tulip Time Festival – and with pretty good reason why.
Because between September the 12th and 24th, an estimated 65,000 garden-loving visitors will wend their way through the region's historic and spectacularly garden-carpeted towns of Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale and Bundanoon, and equally-so a near dozen also-historic, picturesque and garden-proud villages around them.
And they'll splash-out a whopping $7m on food and drinks, accommodation, sightseeing and shopping while doing so, plus outnumber the 53,000 permanent population of the Southern Highlands by over twenty per cent during the Festival, which is actually the biggest annual event in NSW south of Sydney.
First settled in the early 1800s by pioneering colonial farmers and graziers, the cool-climate Southern Highlands also became quickly popular as a weekend and holiday getaway from Sydney's summer-time heat for the new settlement's gentry. And to remind them of home they built grand English-style houses and mansions for their getaways, surrounding them with gardens massed with cool-climate roses, bulbs, shrubs and trees from "the old country."
Today many of the still-remaining of those original homes and gardens help make the Southern Highlands the spectacle they are, and this year's 57th Annual Tulip Time Festival will see lots of these gardens open to visitors.
Bowral's famed Corbett Gardens alone will feature an amazing 100,000 tulips and 15,000 annuals – which is certainly a lot more than the 500 bulbs that were the highlight of the first Tulip Time in 1960 – while other public parks and gardens will also blaze with 40,000 tulips and other annuals.
There'll also be a street parade through Bowral on Saturday September 16th with marching bands, floats, a procession of classic cars and vintage farm equipment, and street performers. And looking on will be visitors who'll come by car, motor-coach and rail from across Australia – including a special steam train from Sydney – and from as far off as New Zealand and even, as last year, from Asia too.
The Southern Highlands are just 110km by road south-west of Sydney and 180km north-east of Canberra. For more information including help with booking accommodation call 1300 657 559, or visit southern-highlands.com.au
 TULIPS by the hundreds of thousands will flourish across the NSW Southern Highlands during this year's 57th Annual Tulip Time Festival from September 12th to 24th. (Wingecarribee Shire Council)