Hello everyone and a warm welcome to my new subscribers! I hope everyone has had a good start to the year so far.
I’m bringing in the first post of 2022 with some scope creep but I think you’ll enjoy it! 🌻🌻🌻
Exploring the Liverpool Plains Sunflower Trail
Last weekend my partner and I packed an overnight bag and escaped the big smoke in pursuit of the sunflowers in the Liverpool Plains region in the north west of NSW.
Quirindi, located in the Liverpool Plains on Gamilaraay land (also Kamilaroi), is a 4 hour drive from Sydney. I was expecting to see red dirt and was surprised by the vivid colours of the fields and the lusciously green country scenery.
The Liverpool Plains is known as the food bowl because they grow everything from crops like chickpeas, sunflowers and sorghum through to animals like cattle and sheep.
Unfortunately, we arrived after a week of heat waves and storms so the crops had come to an earlier than expected end however we were still able to get some good photos and explore the countryside.
If you are interested in visiting, I have covered more details for you at the end of this post.
An inspiring and innovative tourism project
In recent years a combination of drought and the pandemic has made life tough for the region.
In an attempt to make the sunflower trail bigger, local farmers and gardeners intentionally planted tourist crops throughout the plains to bloom in time for the eased COVID restrictions. I had been following their progress via their Facebook group “Sunflowers on the Plains”.
A key pain point for farmers is having their crops on private property trampled by disrespectful tourists taking Instagram photos. The dedicated tourist patches they are growing help alleviate this.
To complement the sunflowers, the locals have developed a suite of product and marketing strategies to bolster tourism:
- A sunflower trail map
- Dedicated weekends where tourists can attend sunflower cooking workshops, pay to pick sunflowers in the fields and make sunflower art (we were supposed to do this but it got cancelled due to the weather)
- Free seeds for tourists to take home
- Competitions for locals such as tallest sunflower, best scarecrow
- Spring agricultural show themed ‘sunflower’
I suppose their target tourist (customer) is one who is sunflower crazy!
“It is the flower of joy and hope, and it’s just happiness, it makes people smile. Yellow is that beautiful colour that is like the sun”Ian Carter, farmer (source: ABC News)
Interested in visiting the Liverpool Plains?
I highly recommend a visit for couples, families or even friend groups if you’re looking for a fun regional experience.
I recommend staying one night to really soak it all in. You can drive distances of 10-50km between the sunflower fields so you need a bit of time to get around.
We stayed at the Quirindi Sunflower Motor Inn which was clean and comfortable. The owners have put a lot of effort into creating a garden oasis for guests to enjoy with BBQ area, fire pit and plenty of sunflowers!
Sam and I have back packed through Europe so our expectations probably aren’t as high as some city folk. If you take up my recommendation, keep in mind that this is a motel so the accommodation itself is fairly basic.
Things to Do (Besides Sunflowers)
The drive through the Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains is well worth it with many charming country towns to explore along the way. Enjoy a breath of fresh air in the immaculate parks and fossick through vintage shops in towns like Singleton, Muswellbrook, Scone and Willow Tree.
In Quirindi, don’t miss a trip up to Who’d A Thought It Lookout for incredible views of the fields.
You can find yourself a souvenir or treasure at Unique Rustique. The staff are friendly and love their music with a decent vintage record collection.
We bought a bottle of red wine and ordered Chinese takeaway for dinner from the Quirindi Bowling Club to eat while we watched the sunset. There are other options like the local pub but we were a bit tired after a massive day exploring and slow detour…
A slight navigational error took us on a very slow drive through 20km of flood plains and rocky, dirt roads. My Mazda CX-3 survived to tell the tale and we got some nice pictures of the Australian windmills!
A few tips for visiting the sunflowers:
- Download the sunflower trail map online or ask the visitors centre/your accommodation for a copy
- Always respect the farmers – there is signage to indicate where you can and can’t go on the properties and you can leave a donation for the local Lions Club
- Watch for snakes – you’re walking through fields and nearby sorghum crops so be sure to wear appropriate footwear
- On the map anything marked a “road” is a sealed road. Anything marked as a “lane” is a real country dirt road so bear that in mind if you don’t have a 4WD
Want to know more?
The next crop will be available in mid April and the best channels to find out the details are the ‘Visit Liverpool Plains’ Facebook page and the ‘Sunflowers on the Plains” Facebook group (the farmers post in this).