Spring in Mayfield Garden
About the place
Mayfield is a vast privately owned garden estate occupying 65 hectares (160 acres or 650,000 m²) of sweeping land, which is 3.8 times larger than the Garden at Buckingham Palace.
Beginning initially as a humble sheep farm in 1984, the Hawkins family has been transforming the plain paddocks into two main garden areas, Mayfield Garden and the larger and more impressive Hawkins Family Garden.
The family didn’t start creating the gardens with commercial intentions but the gardens grew organically into a local icon and popular tourist attraction, drawing people from far and wide after they opened for visitors on only one weekend for a charity event in 2008.
Mayfield estate has elements of formal European gardens as well as Japanese and Chinese gardens. It includes features such as picturesque water gardens with a lake, a valley of several ponds and water falls, a grotto, a beautiful stone bridge and stone tunnels, a formal boxed hedge maze, a grand obelisk pond, an amphitheater and many more. They even have the family stone chapel on top of a hill overlooking the estate.
The scale of the gardens is so large that to just wander around both gardens at a leisurely pace you need at least 3-4 hours. And the gardens are still a work in progress, expanding with several more additions such as the Mayfield Gallery.
As the gardens are still very young, you can expect them to only get better as all the trees and plants mature over time.
Where is Mayfield?
Mayfield is located in Oberon in the Central Tablelands region of New South Wales, Australia, which is less than 3 hour driving distance from Sydney, 1.5 hours from Katoomba in Blue Mountains and only 10 minutes from the Oberon town center.
When you drive from Sydney, you can stop at Blue Mountains for a nice coffee break before heading out further to the west towards Oberon. The winding country road starting from Hartley all the way to Oberon offers quite spectacular views, especially during sunrise and sunset, overlooking the dramatic escarpment of the Blue Mountains in the distance, deep velvety grass valleys and undulating green hills.
The town of Oberon itself is pretty small and doesn’t have much to see or do apart from the Mayfield Garden but has another fantastic tourist attraction nearby. That is Jenolan Caves, the world’s oldest caves, which are only 40 minutes drive from Oberon.
When is the best time to visit Mayfield?
The 15 hectare Mayfield Garden is open for visitors every day of the year except Christmas and Boxing day (26 December). Meanwhile, the 50 hectare Hawkins family private garden is open to visitors only four times a year during seasonal festivals for 16 days in each season.
Without a doubt, during the limited period of seasonal opening of both gardens, you can best appreciate the whole estate’s grandeur, beauty and impressive views across the expansive gardens and beyond from the vintage point in the private garden.
In particular, spring and autumn festivals are the best time to see vibrant seasonal colors at the cool climate gardens. Currently, Mayfield estate has opened both its gardens for a spring festival starting from 3 October and it is bursting with soft pastel spring colors.
The estate is surrounded by undulating farmlands and has fantastic views in spring when canola flowers are in full bloom blanketing the fields in vivid yellow. You can enjoy the best view from the Temple at the top of the Cascade in the family private garden.
Glamping in the garden
At Mayfield, you can experience luxury camping (glamping) in the tranquil garden with exclusive night-time and early-morning access to the gardens including the private garden. The pop-up glamping is offered for couples as well as families during a limited season only and is currently available from 25, September until 24, October 2020. The glamping is operated like hotel stay, and you are required to check in and check out by a certain time.
Each glamping package includes dinner for two and breakfast can be arranged to be delivered to the tent if you want. You can also arrange a private tour of the gardens or you can just sit down by the camp fire and gaze the stars. But whatever you do, you should be considerate of others and be careful of noise at night as there are around 10 tents at the camping ground and they are pitched pretty close to each other.
The glamping site is situated near the Obelisk Pond and has proper communal bathroom facilities with a separate shower area with hot water.
Things you should know
- The gardens open for visitors from 9 am to 4:30 pm with the last entry at 3 pm.
- The entry fee is $20 per adult to Mayfield Garden only but is $35 per adult during the seasonal festivals when both gardens are open for visitors. You can buy tickets either online or at the ticket office on site but buying tickets online in advance is highly recommended during the festivals. Otherwise you might have to wait in line for at least half an hour to buy a ticket as we did. You can pick up a map of the gardens at the ticket office.
- You never need to wonder whether you will find a parking even during the crowded festival seasons. After all, the gardens are surrounded by vast paddocks. They can simply cut some grass and create more spaces for parking. No problem.
- There is a cafe at the entry with indoor and outdoor settings. During the busy seasonal festivals and especially the current unusual time with social distancing in place, it is highly recommended to book a table at the cafe in advance. Alternatively, you can take away food and drinks from the cafe or bring your own food and have a picnic at the garden.
- There are public toilets and drinking water taps for bottle refill throughout the gardens.
Our own experience
While driving the quiet winding country road on the way to Mayfield Garden, Adam and I stopped the car several times by the side of the road to admire stunning views across the dramatic valleys, idyllic rolling greens hills and sweeping yellow canola fields.
It couldn’t have been more pleasant than driving on a balmy spring weekend with a warm and gentle breeze combing through my hair, seasonally early cicadas singing on top of their voice and the whiff of farm animals in the air (sarcasm is not intended). I could see, hear, feel and smell the typical and beautiful Australian countryside.
Whatever the Mayfield estate offered was a cherry on top of our already wonderful cake, except the fact that we spent good half an hour just standing in the sun before being able to buy tickets as there were so many people at the entry.
Adam and I wandered around and explored the gardens for hours until my toes were blistered and sore. Eventually we came to a quiet orchard at the high ground of the private family garden where we set down under the shade of a blossoming apple tree. We basically did nothing other than sit there quietly overlooking the vast open views across the gardens and beyond, which I thought resembled some of Van Gogh’s paintings. Never mind whether it was a wheat field or a canola field. It was just picture perfect.
Adam and I both agreed that spending some quiet time under the apple tree, just two of us, was the best part of the whole trip to the garden. It could have been even better if we took a picnic with us but now we know better for the next time. We will definitely go back to Mayfield during a seasonal festival in 10 years time, if not earlier, to see how the gardens have matured over time.