It’s my first day in Sydney, I must waste no time. As soon as I finished checking in at Home Backpackers Hostel, I left to roam the city in search of the trees that yield purple flowering plants; the jacarandas. Jacarandas are commonly found in countries like Argentina, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Spain, Zambia, Nepal, and Australia. The name comes from the Guarani language—an indigenous South American language—which means “fragrant”. In Australia, Jacarandas bloom in springtime, October to November. I went in November, just in time to appreciate these beautiful purple blooms.
Days before this trip, my friend sent me an online article that showed some Asian tourists stopping traffic in Sydney for that perfect Instagram-worthy photos with the jacarandas. Don’t worry, I didn’t cause a traffic, but I managed to find some of the best spots for some jacaranda appreciation in the Central Business District (CBD).
I wanted to hit myself in the head because I knew I would be alone yet I left my tripod in the hostel. So when I had my first sighting of the jacarandas in Riley Street (click here to see the Google Maps street view).
I had to muster the courage to ask strangers to take my picture. I looked around and saw a couple walking the street and I heard them in speaking in Tagalog. Yay! My kababayans! I followed them and specifically asked the woman to take my photo. They continued walking as if they didn’t hear me so I tailed them like a stalker. I repeated myself until they couldn’t ignore me anymore.
The woman looked at me and said, “Akala namin Chinese ka kaya dumiretso kami.” (We thought you were Chinese so we went ahead.) I honestly don’t know what to make of that statement. I mean, I should have been relieved that they didn’t ignore me completely, but somehow, it didn’t feel right that they ignored me at first because they thought I was Chinese. I think my thoughts are reflected in my not-so-natural smile in the photo. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe I misinterpreted the remark? I’m not sure.
With Google Maps, I set off to my next destination. Sydney’s primary nightclub strip, Oxford Street, is where I found the loveliest jacarandas trees. I spotted other tourists taking in the view, including a woman whose hair was dyed purple. I didn’t take a picture of her even if I wanted to because you know, decency.
As I walked along Oxford, contemplating where I should head to next, I saw more jacaranda trees right outside the walls of Victoria Barracks, an Australian Army Base.
Darling Harbour & Circular Quay
I saw more jacarandas for the rest of my stay in Sydney because they are practically everywhere. There are also jacaranda trees, albeit few in Darling Harbour and Circular Quay.
It is worth noting that I didn’t have to go beyond CBD to find the jacarandas. The whole city is swathed in lavender this time of the year that you don’t even have to try too hard (or stop traffic) to seem them.
I was tired from the flight and the thought of just sleeping in the hostel did come to mind, but I didn’t give in to my lazy tendencies. Finding the jacarandas was the highlight of my first day in Australia and I’m glad that I stayed up for them. Do visit Sydney in springtime when they are in full bloom.