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Travel: Head to Silvan for spring flower festival

The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is on every spring in Silvan, Victoria.
The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is on every spring in Silvan, Victoria. Contributed

IT HAS been on my travel bucket list for a long time: visit Amsterdam for the spring tulip festival. Wouldn't it be nice to be in Holland when the tulips are in the bloom and the country is a celebration of spring colour against a backdrop of cute windmills?

The good news is the tulips of Amsterdam have been upstaged by the tulips of Silvan.

In late September and early October in the Victorian country town, the tulip bulbs welcome spring with a firestorm of incandescent colour for the Tesselaar Tulip Festival.

It is glorious. In fact, it is so beautiful and uplifting I wonder why I have not had Silvan on the bucket list rather than Amsterdam - more affordable and so much easier to get to.

We happened to be in Melbourne in early October with no thought of tulips. But these beautiful bulbs had unknowingly obliged us by being fashionably late in poking their colourful noses up from the red soil at Silvan.

Someone told us about the festival and from that moment there was no question of not attending. The window to see this tulip spectacle lasts only a few weeks every spring. If you are in Melbourne, you simply must go.

The hour or so drive to Silvan from the city is delightful, up to the Dandenong Ranges through eucalypt forests and quaint towns with charming B and Bs and country cafes.

And everywhere, the flowers: rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, daffodils. All that before you arrive at the tulip farm.

The farm's slopes were a thick blanket of colour with rows of beautiful tulips to the horizon.

From fiery red to bright yellow, delicate pink, pale white, deep purple, the tulips were more glam than any Hollywood star.

There was much tiptoeing through the flowers, as the shallow trenches between the vibrant rows meant being in the glorious cover of colour. And yes, there were Dutch windmills throughout the property.

The hours slip away as you do your tiptoe thing and try to get a selfie without anyone in the background. But there is more to the festival than those lovely tulips.

Art, sculptures, music, entertainment and food stalls are part of a rewarding day in this gorgeous place.

We headed for the German bratwurst food stall, which seemed correct in the surroundings although the Dutch pancakes may have been more appropriate. Indulging in an enormous German sausage with sauerkraut while over-looking the rolling slopes of vivid colour is surely equal to an Amsterdam visit.

Seven hundred and fifty thousand tulips are set across about 2ha of the 10ha (or 25-acre) farm. The bulbs are planted in autumn and tended through winter to flower for the four weeks of the festival every spring. The festival has been running for 63 years, from small family-run beginnings to the mega attraction it is today.

The facilities at the farm include the obligatory gift shop, a cafe and plenty of loos.

You are welcome to take your own food to enjoy at one of many picnic tables. Bridal couples can have their photos taken among the tulips, although there are no facilities for weddings.

While I will not cross an Amsterdam visit off my travel bucket list, I certainly have satiated my desire to see these beautiful bulbs in full bloom.

The Victorian farm and festival is marvellous and if that's not enough, there is another tulip sensation in Waratah-Wynyard in Tasmania, the Bloomin' Tulips Festival.

Topics:  gardening travel weekend magazine



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