I grew up in Casino a town approximately one hundred and one kilometres from Grafton the home of the Jacaranda Festival. The first Jacaranda festival was held in 1934 and has been held on the second last weekend in October to the first weekend in November ever since. It has the honour of being the first and longest running folk festival in Australia.
Grafton has incredibly wide streets and Queensland style housing built to withstand the floods that happen with regularity on the Clarence River. When the lilac blooms are in full blossom the town is a real picture. There is one street where the Jacarandas planted on either side of the road form an archway through which you drive. We unfortunately arrived after the festival had finished and the blooms were no longer at their best.
We had a Jacaranda tree in our street outside our house which we used to climb. Although it must have been very beautiful, I don’t know that as children we truly appreciated its magnificence. We saw it as a bit of a pain. When the flowers started to fall it was as though there were millions of flowers carpeting the area where I used to play hopscotch, elastics and hoola hoops. My brother rode his bike here. The flowers covered the ground and almost immediately rotted, going to a slimy slushy consistency which meant that all games were suspended due to the slipperiness of this fallen flower. Skating on the remains was really the only activity which could be successfully carried out but the constant falls led to stained clothes and an unhappy mother – we just didn’t appreciate the Jacaranda Tree.