The annual jacaranda season in Gauteng is one of the most spectacular natural attractions in the province and always one of our favourite times of year.
This year in partnership with the Gautrain, we have for the first time opened our annual #jacarandainyourpocket photo competition to entries from Johannesburg and Pretoria – encouraging Gautengers from both cities to hop on the train and see the jacaranda spring in their sister cities.
Enter the competition and you could win one of a range of awesome prizes, including hotel stays and fun city experiences, by sharing your best photos with us on Instagram using the hashtags: #jacarandainyourpocket #gautrainjourneys.
To kick off the competition we headed off on a jacaranda journey on Saturday, October 31, between Rosebank in Johannesburg and Hatfield in Pretoria, with the Gautrain in the company of 17 keen photographers, among them members of the Joburg Photowalkers. We were also accompanied by a China TV journalist.
If you want to catch the peak of the Gauteng jacaranda spring this week, here’s how to see both Pretoria and Joburg’s best blooms in one day.
Jacaranda walking in Hatfield
Our jacaranda journey began at Father Coffee at The Zone@Rosebank. We then hopped on the 13:04 train north to Hatfield in Pretoria. As the train starts to draw into Pretoria station make sure you are sitting on the right-hand side (facing forward) to catch sight of the city skyline stretching out towards the majestic Union Buildings.
One more stop and you reach the end of the line in Hatfield (the route takes 49 minutes, R78). Note that no photographs are allowed to be taken in the station without a press permit which needs to be applied for. From here turn left out of the station and head up Grosvenor Street where it’s jacarandas all the way, before taking another left turn at the traffic circle onto Prospect Street, a quiet street with wide pavements, perfect for a quick photoshoot.
The jacaranda alley of Prospect Street stretches on for several blocks although we took a quick right up Jan Shoba Street towards the neighbouring suburb of Brooklyn. If you need coffee or a bite to eat, the courtyards of Duncan Yard at the corner of Jan Shoba and Prospect are a quirky place to stop.
Heritage houses and shady streets in Brooklyn
Heading up Jan Shoba towards Brooklyn we took time out for our second photoshoot on Brooks Street, lined with a perfectly proportioned tunnel of trees that seems to stretch on for miles. The mid-afternoon shadows scattered across the street make this a particularly compelling spot for photography fans.
Stocked up with pictures, we then headed down Brooks in the direction of the University of Pretoria campus stopping to admire the eclectic selection of Cape Dutch, Victorian Gothic and modernist properties along the way.
Quirky modern architecture in Hatfield
To get back to central Hatfield take a shortcut on William Street and cross over Lynwood Rd following Herold Street around the campus and into the Hatfield CBD. It may well be beer o’clock by the time you get to this point of your jacaranda walk. If you have time to spare before the next Gautrain, stop for a beer at the studenty beer garden at Aandklas on the corner of Hilda and Prospect Streets.
Two blocks before you get back to the Gautrain station, the neon-bright rainbow balconies of the Units on Park building on Park Street is a colourful new landmark on the local skyline perfect for your Instagram feed.
Golden hour in Rosebank and Parkwood
From the sunny streets of Hatfield we hopped back on the Gautrain at 15:56 to Rosebank to catch the last of the sun before an epic Highveld storm rolled in, strolling through the awesome blooming streets of Rosebank and Parkwood.
A quick five-minute walk from the Rosebank Gautrain station is Bath Avenue, one of the most picturesque jacaranda streets in this part of Joburg. The final leg of the photowalk was spent slowly meandering along the purple carpets of Parkwood in the direction of Bristol Road en route to our final destination, Home Suite Hotels Bristol (our top prize is a two-night stay at their new Cape Town property opening December 2020).
With plenty of time to spare before the evening storm rolled in we enjoyed Home Suites’ famous GnT’s and the best cheese toasties in town with a magical view of the purple treetops at the Home Suite Hotel’s rooftop bar (Read our review of our recent stay at this fantastic boutique hotel here). The experience was wrapped up by 6pm.
*Johannesburg In Your Pocket would like to express our thanks to the Gautrain team, the Rosebank Management District, The Zone@Rosebank, Mark Straw and the Joburg Photowalkers and the Home Suite Hotel for supporting our two cities photowalk!
- Note Gautrain buses do not operate on weekends from these stations. The routes taken are easily walkable, and can be extended into neighbouring jacaranda suburbs at both stops. The jacarandas flower from mid-late October and are visible for a three- to four week period. Read more about jacarandas in this article published in Christian Science Monitor.