Ballarat Begonia Festival – Day 3 of Road Trip March 2020

Sunday 8th March 2020

Thirty-four years ago Bill and I were on a road trip for our honeymoon (a 5000klm / 3100mi road trip is bad idea for a honeymoon, by the way) and that is when we discovered Ballarat for the first time. The tourist office suggested we go see the Begonia display. We weren’t gardeners, and all I knew was that it was a small red flower you grew in a plant pot, but we went along with the recommendation.

What a display! So many varieties, some the size of a dessert plate, and a wide range of colours. That visit has stuck with us all these years, and finally we have returned. We didn’t realise that the Begonia Festival dates back to 1953. It has taken many forms over the years. Now it is a three-day carnival event attracting around 60,000 people, held in the grounds of the extensive Botanic Gardens.

The blooms are displayed in the conservatory, which has been erected since our previous visit.

Begonia at Ballarat March 2020 (2) rs

It’s been a hard job to choose a few photographs from the many that Bill and I took, but here is a selection from both of us. For some reason, the red varieties seemed particularly difficult to photograph distinctly, which is a pity, as they were so vibrant.

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For the festival there were dozens of market stalls set up for handicrafts, children’s activities, community organisations, and food and coffee stalls, strung out along the length of the gardens in between the trees and garden beds. There was a special section for begonia gardeners and plant sales.

There are also many beautiful regular displays and elegant statues dotted throughout the gardens. In one section, dahlias were in glorious riot. Again, a tough choice for the photos.

One of the varieties was very tasty to the bees.
Bee on Dahlia Ballarat March 2020 rs

Presentations were taking place in a centrally-located marquee. We sat in on a cooking demonstration by Anushka Zargaryan who’d been a 2019 contestant in Masterchef Australia. Armenian by birth, she describes her cooking as a fusion of Middle-East and European, drawing on cuisines from Iran, Russia and Armenia. She cooked caramelised eggplant stuffed with a mixture of ricotta, sour cream, walnuts, various herbs and spices, lemon juice, and probably something I’ve forgotten*. I’m a fan of eggplant, (aubergine), so that may get a try-out if I ever get cooking again. * I forgot the key ingredient – POMEGRANATE!
Cooking Demo Ballarat March 2020 rs

There was so much to see, including some fun garden sculptures, that we were in the gardens for over four hours. Here are a few more random photos from our wanderings.

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And one other feature of the gardens is the Prime Ministers’ walk – a bust of every PM in Australia’s history, up to Tony Abbott (2013-2015). While it is not a very flattering likeness, I’m including our only female PM, Julia Gillard (2010-2013).

Julia Guillard Prime Minister Walk Ballarat 2020 rs

The day had started out nippy and I was glad that I’d bought a parka, but by the time we left the festival the sun was sparkling. The gardens are situated beside Lake Wendouree, which has a circumference of 6km (about 3.5 miles), with lots to look at. So, although John had taken us for a drive around the previous evening, we went around again. It was a pleasant end to a delightful day.

28 thoughts on “Ballarat Begonia Festival – Day 3 of Road Trip March 2020

  1. Oh, what wonderful flowers that you captured very well, as GP Cox already affirmed. Thanks for sharing Paol’s post also. I adore floral displays.

    You said, “… red varieties seemed particularly difficult to photograph …” and Derrick Knight seconded your experience. It makes me wonder if this information is relevant to photos: From an artist in Portland, OR, U.S.A. (City of Roses), I heard that the color red is uniquely difficult because one cannot make a “lighter red” simply by mixing white with it — that produces pink. That which makes it tricky for an artist, may perhaps be true for a camera!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is interesting. On good quality cameras, you can change the white balance. I guess for situations such as this. I’m just happy-snapping with my cell phone.
      We were in Portland OR in June 2018. Oh my! What a treat the rose garden is. I took dozens of photos. But I never kept up with the blogging on that six week trip – Up the 101 from San Francisco to Astoria, then on to Portland and Seattle, clipper from Seattle to Vancouver, then a Western Canada / Alaska tour. It was amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Ballarat’s Begonias – Paol Soren

  3. You really captured a few real beauties. I went today when there were fewer people. All the outside stalls had begun being pulled down. I will wait for a while before I post any of my photos. I was so happy to have seen you both and to have had a chance to show-off Ballarat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m thinking that when we first discovered the display all those years back that we must have arrived after the festival itself as I only remember seeing the flowers and no crowds. So a good choice on your part! It was hard to choose which photos to show, and I was worried about the clarity after I re-sized the file size. It will be interesting to see yours.
      I forgot a couple of things – we did get to see the aquaculture, for instance. I’ll try to catch up on the next post. Having a bit of trouble keeping up at the moment.
      The parade was a lot of fun too. Nothing to compare with Moomba, but we enjoyed it.
      What you did for us in Ballarat was fabulous, thank you! Great to meet you in person, too.
      We are overnighting in Dimboola. We were a couple of hours at Gum San, then Stawell, and then some of the silo art. Also came across a mobile library, so hope to include that when I get a chance to write about today’s adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The flowers are simply gorgeous! You and Bill are so good to share all this with us! Keep having super times! Wollongong’s run out of toilet rolls – how about in your area? All gone barmy here!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The dahlias Agnes! You would have found so much inspiration in their shapes and colours.
      Margaret Thatcher and I didn’t share the same belief system, and she threw me out of the country on account of it – at least that’s how it felt at the time 🙂
      Julia Gillard should have been one of our finest PMs, but it seems we were not ready for a female in the role. Have you come across her speech in parliament on misogyny? I think you’d love it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think Jackie would have drooled over them. Apparently there are tuberous and non-tuberous varieties, and most of these large ones are the former.
      I’m relieved to hear you struggle with reds also. We are only using a point and shoot camera, and my phone – so we can’t expect too much.

      Liked by 1 person

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