I finally made my way to the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens in Blackheath after having visited this favourite Blue Mountains town numerous times, but always getting distracted by the many other natural attractions there.
The gardens are within walking distance of Blackheath Train Station – only 1 km away, takes about 15 minutes at a relaxed pace. I’m a big fan of attractions that can be reached via public transport – especially in more remote areas, as believe me, Uber won’t help you here.
I was lucky enough to have an uncharacteristically sunny Winter day on which to visit the gardens. As you walk further from the main street in Blackheath you begin to notice the stillness that is such a welcoming feature of this mountain town.
The quiet only deepens as you walk further until, upon reaching the garden entrance, all you can hear is the soft sounds of Australian bush.
Just head straight into the gardens, but be sure to take the pedestrian path down – and not the road that is designated especially for cars.
You are immediately flanked by cute flower beds on either side of the winding path and one of the best features of this place soon appears. A seat. This one with tables.
O.K, granted that doesn’t sound too life-changing, but it is something I noted about the gardens; there are seats EVERYWHERE.
This favourable feature doesn’t affect me much, admittedly.
However, it is gold for seniors or anyone who might tire quickly or who has slight mobility issues – yet who wants too explore the gardens anyway. You are never more than a stones throw from a resting spot.
You soon come to the donation box and are asked to give a gold-coin donation – a dollar or two. No one monitors this so it is completely an honesty box sort of arrangement, but I recommend you put a little something in.
The gardens is kept open and beautiful by volunteers and through fundraising activities, so they can use all the help they can get to maintain this beautiful piece of nature.
Now is the time to head to the bathroom before you go off exploring – find the toilets just past the Donation Box Hut.
Exploring the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens
There seem to be lots of different mini walks you can take through the gardens, and I suppose you could follow a plan, but the place is small enough that if you just keep wandering, you will soon cover most of the gardens.
A lovely lookout platform is located shortly after you venture down into the gardens proper and it overlooks the tranquil reeded pond beneath. Photo opportunity!
I headed down to take a closer look at the water – I kid you not, Winter or no, if it weren’t for the sign, I would have been in the water in a second, floating on my back trying to blend in like an over-sized lily pad.
It might not have held the allure of a fresh mountain waterfall, but being a lover of mountains from waaaay back, I struggle to resist even the murkiest of mountain water holes.
In saying that, this one was clear, with a surface as flat as a plastic sheet. There was an unmistakable drone of frogs-that-I-couldn’t-see somewhere among the reeds, and fan tails flitted about high above.
Resisting my urges I explored further, noting in particular the care and thought that has gone into designing many areas within these gardens.
Pond overflow is often allowed to pour out via some ill-tended drain, but here care had been taken to create descending rock-lined pools in what has been named the Quota Grove.
Again, more seating here, and a spot for meditation, I’d warrant, if you are so inclined.
If you are endlessly curious like me, you will find yourself taken up above it all along a rising trail. This is a little steep but loops around taking you back down again fairly soon – so give it a go. Again there are seats at the top if you need to pause.
From there you can look through the trees to catch some glances of the gardens from above. If you are quiet you may see some rosellas in the trees around you.
There is also an opportunity to take a nature trail even further up the hill.
I opted to save this for another day as I was carrying a large pack and it appeared to be one of those trails where, likely as not, you will find yourself scrambling up muddy or moss-covered rocks. I love that, but next time.
Instead I just took in sights of the flora along the path, like the prevalent wattle as well as the strikingly coloured bark of the Persoonia levis – the Broad-Leaved Geebung.
As I made my way back down to the bottom of the gardens it was clear that expansion of the gardens is underway, with more waterways being created, so there is growth to look forward to – in every sense of the word!
When To Visit The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens
It is a delightful and tranquil place, and although I didn’t get to see it during flowering season, I definitely enjoyed the more apparent native features of the gardens – and especially the fern groves. I’ve always found ferns beautiful. It also gave me the opportunity to see a less celebrated side of the gardens.
Check it out in this video I made of a snippet of my visit…
The official website for the gardens says that the flowering season for rhododendrons is in September, October and with the peak flowering time in November, so if you have options when to visit, and you would prefer to see the bursts of colour, try to visit during one of those months. It is also warmer at that time of the year.
I was on a bit of a tight schedule, so I didn’t linger, but if you have time, take your lunch and enjoy it in this forest setting. There are options for takeaway food along Blackheath mainstreet, or head to the IGA supermarket in Blackheath and grab a few supplies for sandwiches.
Get there nice and early though, as the gardens close at 4 pm.
How To Get To The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens
Get yourself to Blackheath first – from Central Station in Sydney it is a train ride of a little over 2 hours. There is usually a train every hour or so on weekdays.
The fare is under $6 one way so that’s not bad for a scenic ride up into the mountains. From the train station, take a walk a little way along the main street, then follow Hat Hill Road, and Inconstant Street. You will begin to see signs that confirm you are on track.
Should you wish to drive from Sydney, it takes about 2 hours via the M4 and the Great Western Highway.
Opening Hours of The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens
The gardens are open every day of the year till 4 pm.
Have you ever heard of the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens in Blackheath? Have you visited Blackheath itself but never popped over to see the gardens? Let us know in the comments below.
Doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? No matter, there are plenty of other things to do in Blackheath. Why not Visit Anvil Rock?