I’m remembering the Jacaranda Festivals of my childhood at Grafton in northern New South Wales, with a certain nostalgia. Did such a time of innocence really exist? Is this celebration different today?
Below is a photo from my sister’s album of her, Susan, and our little sister, Jill, folk dancing with school friends at the Grafton Jacaranda Festival in the fifties.
This annual spring-time celebration begins at the end of October and lasts until the first week in November. It has gone on since nineteen thirty-four, and was the first such folk festival in the country.
The Grafton Jacaranda Festival is in full swing in my hometown as I write this post. It is a spring celebration that is held every year during the first week in November. At this time, the jacaranda trees are in full bloom.
Some childhood memories are golden. Or, in this case, mauve, lilac, purple, and, as Dad once said, “heliotrope”. It’s hard to pin down the actual colour of the flowers that bloom on the jacaranda trees, and form carpets of blossoms on the surface of the roads and avenues. Sometimes they seem lighter hued, mauve in my memory, at other times, darkly purple.
Local businesses decorated “floats” that were driven through the city streets, in a parade viewed by crowds of spectators.
The chosen “Jacaranda Queen” rode in one vehicle and waved to the crowds. My ex-schoolmate friend was chosen one year.
At night, decorated vessel floats were steered along the Clarence River, watched by crowds of spectators lining the waterfront. One of these floats would carry the Jacaranda Queen, who was selected each year by a special board to give speeches and represent the whole occasion.
Young girls in the fifties and sixties wore leis made out of crepe paper at jacaranda time. Mum always ran up a bright new skirt on her Singer sewing machine for me—and my sisters—to wear with a white blouse.
Many thanks for the historical Grafton Jacaranda Photos (above) which are from the Hackett family albums.