A Riot of Rhodo Colour, Blackheath NSW

I was once a gardener, but now restrict myself to admiring the skill and dedication of people with far greener thumbs than I.

The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens at Blackheath, in the NSW Blue Mountains, is a vision splendid and a brilliantly colourful example of what can be achieved by passionate volunteers.

Join me for a gentle stroll up, down and around the paths of this floral fiesta.

The History

The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens began life as the Bacchante Gardens in 1970. Joining the Blue Mountains Rhododendron Society, Olive Campbell and later her husband Norm, contributed so much to the establishment, design and ongoing management of the site that the Gardens were renamed in their honour. Now that is one amazing achievement and commitment.

Established over 18.3ha (45ac), the Garden features in excess of 2,000 rhododendrons as well as other exotic species such as azaleas, camellias, wisteria, proteas and conifers. Apparently, rhododendrons and azaleas are from the same family, except that azaleas have less stamens and no spotting in the flower’s throat. The things you learn when you strike up a conversation with an enthusiastic volunteer? Said volunteer was so keen to educate me that she proceeded to rapidly pick flowers to the point where I thought I would be held responsible for the complete decimation of the gardens! All due to my floral ignorance.

Unfortunately, the devastating Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20 cut a swathe through the gardens, destroying a third of the plantings. It was such a hot fire that even after nearly three years, the land is still recovering. Volunteers have been busy replanting the rhododendron displays, but with the endless wet weather of the past two years, the rhododendrons have struggled to thrive. From one extreme to the other.

What Does it Cost?

  • The entry fee is a mere $5.00 and it is so worth it. The information booth is staffed by volunteers who are more than happy to share their knowledge and answer questions.
  • Grab a copy of the small brochure and map (it’s free) to guide your footsteps and make the most of your visit.

When to Visit

  • The gates open to vehicles from 9am every day of the year and closing time depends on the season – a couple of hours earlier in Winter.
  • It is possible to walk into the gardens at any time as the pedestrian gates are always open and I did just that, wandering in at 630am. It was a gorgeous sight in the early morning light and so peaceful without the crowds of visitors. Don’t forget to pay your $5.00, even when the Gardens aren’t officially open as every cent goes to their upkeep.

What Else if There to See/Do?

  • Tea Rooms: Volunteers operate tearooms onsite. Apparently, the scones are delicious, but you may have to go elsewhere for a real coffee.
  • Weddings: Thinking of getting married? Weddings are welcomed on site and the rhododendrons would make a glorious backdrop to your festivities.
  • Dogs: Does your dog enjoy a walk? Dogs are also welcome as long as they are kept on a leash. I imagine this would be one of the few dog-friendly sites in the Mountains.
  • Blackheath Rhododendron Festival: To celebrate all things rhododendron, a Festival is held on the first Saturday of November although other smaller events run for about four weeks over the rhododendron’s main flowering period (October and November). Street parties, markets, pipe bands, a dog show, choir, Scottish dancers, and a gnome convention should just about cover the entertainment requirements of most people during the Festival weekend.
  • Walk the Streets of Blackheath: If you have the time for a slow drive or walk around Blackheath’s streets it will deliver even more colours and beauty featured in residents’ gardens.

General Comments:

  • The extensive rhododendron plantings are nestled in a bush gully and are interspersed with native trees and shrubs, providing a fantastic contrast between the brittle-looking and hardy natives and the delicate petals of the rhododendrons. Walking along the bush paths, every now and then you get a flash of the most brilliant scarlet colour – a waratah growing wild. I put my hand up here and admit that I am officially in love with waratahs.
  • For visitors who are passionate gardeners, be prepared to be dazzled by the colour and diversity of the plantings. There are endless seats and picnic areas in various ‘rooms’ of the gardens to really immerse yourself in Nature’s glory.
  • A visit to the Rhododendron Gardens is a lovely way to spend an hour or so. Even a non-gardener like me can appreciate the beauty of the different plants and flowers as well as acknowledge what can be achieved by a bunch of hardworking volunteers. They are to be congratulated.

Where to Find Out More?

Do you have a favourite public garden?

The Basics

What: There are a number of motels, B&Bs, pubs and AirBnBs in the Blackheath area. The High Mountains Motor Inn is a good choice for cheap and cheerful accommodation within walking distance of the centre of town. You could walk to the Gardens from the motel in about 30-40 minutes.

Where: Bacchante Street, Blackheath NSW 2785.

When: According to the experts, the main rhododendron flowering periods are in October and November. Alternatively, Autumn would deliver an equally colourful display of leaves turning orange and russet reds.

Why: To be completely immersed in a riot of colour and to acknowledge Nature at her finest.

How: If you are driving, there is plenty of parking onsite as well as a large overflow carparking area adjacent to the main entrances for buses and large vehicles. If you are not driving, the Blackheath Train Station is a good 20minute walk away. NB: It would be a very pretty walk, but there are a couple of stiff hills to negotiate.

Who: I suspect this is mainly an adult destination. Children may love to run and explore, but could get bored with the endless flowers and not much else.

Related Posts: For another glorious garden with a similar climate and just as colourful, pop into the Royal Botanic Gardens in Hobart, Tasmania. Check it out here.

Related Blogs: The travellers at Sydney Excursions also enjoyed their wander in the Gardens a couple of years ago.

Read About It: If you are inspired and now plan to grow your own rhododendron masterpieces, Book Depository has a whole range of guides to get you planting. Go straight to Book Depository.

#rhodogardens #travelinspo #greenthumbs #springblooms #blackheath #dayout #bluemountains #gardeninspiration #riotofcolour #rhododendrons

34 thoughts on “A Riot of Rhodo Colour, Blackheath NSW

  1. A garden you can bring your dog should definitely be encouraged. Looks beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not sure the dogs appreciate all the blooms, but they certainly love the space!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my … the amazing different shades of pink/purple are truly beautiful! The colours are in your face and I love it. Ok, I must go … I need to walk one more time through this lovely place! Thanks for the share 🌸.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine rhodos would grow just as well in RSA – our climates are so similar.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely love rhodies, Mel, and looking at your fabulous shots of Waratahs I think I’ve found a new love too. This place reminds me of a Himalayan garden we visited many years ago. In Yorkshire, of course, not the Himalayas! Thanks for taking me rhodie gazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Where’s that then? In case I manage my Yorkshire holiday next year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh heck! Not even sure it’s still open to the public. Will check and let you know 🤔💗

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Himalayan Garden & Sculpture Park, between Ripon and Masham. You could pop and see Margaret. We could even meet there, depending on timing. I think it’s seasonal and closed at present.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. OK. Thanks for that. Probably be June time, before school holidays. A bit early for your visit.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Totally unplanned next year apart from the wedding so we’ll see. You joining us, Mel? 🤭💖

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Oooo – the temptation! I will be in Spain in June going for a stroll so maybe I could pop over to the UK? 🙂


    2. My pleasure. Only a gentle walk today! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was going to say that I know someone who will swoon over this post, but I see she has already visited (Jo). I am not a huge fan of rhodies, but this does look like a lovely garden to spend an hour or three. And the waratahs are delightful. I’ve only ever managed a day trip to the Blue Mountains, it seems that it would be a good idea to stay around there for 2 or 3 nights to get to see more of the delights in that area. I have a vague idea there is another lovely garden in the region.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Depending on your interests, I think you could easily spend a week in the Blue Mountains as it covers a large area. Plenty of quirky shops, history, coffee/food, walks, gardens etc to easily fill the time.


  5. What a pretty place 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is super-pretty for a short period each year and then it is just a lovely park-like garden.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely, especially enjoyable to see these blossoms while winter closes in here up north. I can almost imagine the fragrance of all those flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interestingly they didn’t seem to have much perfume at all. Maybe all their energy goes into growing beautiful, brilliantly coloured blooms and there is nothing left to create a scent? Stay warm up there…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So beautiful, we could never grow those in our part of Canada. Worth the $5 admission.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Blue Mountains area can get quite cold and it does snow there, so perhaps they would grow in the milder parts of your great country??


      1. I think in Vancouver and Victoria they do, but not in Calgary. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sooo beautiful, I’m envious of you heading in to Spring while we’re entering cold, rainy, dark English winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I watch our TV news every night and have been surprised to see coverage of the Northern Hemisphere with snow everywhere already. Is that early this year? Is it colder/wetter than normal? We have had a VERY mild Spring so far.


    1. Wrong time of year for you, unfortunately. You will miss it by a couple of months.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I went to the website and it said there were some things to see in winter, but missing the rhododendrons would be sad. The picture they had of the place in winter was totally snow-covered. Noooooooooo!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m sure we can find you something else to do to fill in the time! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, and please, no snow while we’re there! I’m relying on you, Mel, to ensure that snow doesn’t happen.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I think that you will be pretty safe from snow…unless something really weird happens with our weather! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

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