This is the only place in the world where you can see the crowning of a Jacaranda (in Grafton).

This is the only place in the world where you can see the crowning of the Jacaranda Queen. No, not a particularly large or beautiful Jacaranda tree – it‘s a young woman from the town of Grafton who, in addition to being more beautiful than any of the other entrants, has shown commitment to her hometown by raising more than $1200 for the annual Jacaranda Festival.

Jacarandas are native to the Caribbean, Mexico and South and Central America, but to our knowledge no-one there has been crowned Jacaranda anything! But the tradition in Grafton started over 70 years ago and is one of Australia’s oldest festivals, steeped in custom and community spirit.

The first ever Queen to be crowned in Jacaranda Avenue – complete with thousands of adoring fans, jesters and flower girls – was one Mavis Schwinghammer. Princess that year was the only slightly less lavishly named Myrtle Gentle. The current Queen (above) is a young lady named Sarah Templeton.

The Jacaranda Festival kicks off every year around the Saturday of the crowning and ends in a spectacular street parade equally worth seeing. But, really, anytime in October or early November is a good time to see Australia’s magnificent Jacarandas. Get up early in the morning and wander streets strewn with the lilac blossoms of the many hundred trees. But bring your antihistamines, if you’re allergic to pollen.

Where // Grafton is in northeast NSW, and the festival is held during the last two weeks of October each year. (02) 6642 3959, www.jacarandafestival.org.au  

Did you know? // In 2003, Scott Kelly wanted to become the first male candidate to enter the pageant – and become Jacaranda King. A second male entrant, WayneHerbert, followed suit quickly but wanted to claim the title of Queen for the gay community.

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