In just a matter of moments, parks and gardens can transport you away from the hustle and bustle of city life to a place where time lingers, thoughts slow, and nature’s beauty abounds. Whether you go there to look at the flowers and plants, or for a wander along the paths, they are the perfect place to kick back, relax, and take a moment for yourself.
1. Lex and Ruby’s Garden, Cremorne Point
There is a plaque somewhere in Lex and Ruby’s Garden that reads: ”the noblest thing a man can do, someone once said, is to plant a tree which will give shade to someone he will never know.”
Having begun the garden after pulling out an elephant’s ear root from the waters of Sydney Harbour back in 1959 and planting it at Cremorne Point, Lex and Ruby’s garden has been providing cover and solace for local residents and curious visitors for many, many years. Originally a dumping area of other’s waste, this slice of paradise has grown into a hectare of plants, bush, steps and paths tended to by a team of volunteers as well as the North Sydney council.
Easy to access from the Cremorne Point ferry, Lex and Ruby’s Gardens remind us that a such a simple act, like planting a plant, can grow and give so much to the community.
2. Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Paddington
The Paddington Reservoir Gardens are quite easy to find and, subsequently, not very secluded. However, their sunken nature does allow visitors to feel a slight disconnect from the city around them. The immaculately kept gardens, which won an Urban Design award in 2009, also help. If you stay for a moment or you stay for a while to watch the sunset, you’ll feel better for having spent a moment of your day in this inner city sanctuary.
3. Wendy Whiteley Gardens, Lavender Bay
What was once a derelict train yard is now one of Sydney’s worst kept secrets. But even though many people know of its whereabouts, Wendy Whitely’s Garden is a paradise of Moreton Bay figs, palms and flowers that run all the way down to the harbour. Wander along cobbledstoned paths, up stairs, past bronze busts and onto quiet beaches. Many of the artworks seen in the gardens have been donated by local artists, each contributing a small piece to this treasured use of public land.
4. Palace Rose Garden Pavilion, Sydney
Although the pavilion at the Palace Rose Garden is typically reserved for venue hire, there’s no reason why you can’t stop by and smell the roses for a little while. The Rose Garden is now in its ninth iteration and since 2006 has seen continued popularity thanks to the combined romance of roses and the spectacular views of the harbour. When it comes to Sydney parks and gardens — this one is a must-visit.
5. Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour
A gift from Sydney’s sister city Guangzhou, this one-hectare oasis in the Darling Harbour precinct is a sight to behold for city workers and anyone who needs a space to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Filled with hidden gems and showcasing calligraphy, carvings and sculptures of dragons and other mythological creatures, this city-sanctuary is the perfect place to spend an hour or two of your afternoon.
6. Auburn Botanic Gardens, Auburn
You wouldn’t think it, but Auburn Botanic Gardens are multiple majestically landscaped parks and gardens in a nine-hectare space in Sydney’s east. Possibly the most eye-catching of these gardens is the Japanese garden with its pond, waterfall and ornamental bridges. Within the grounds, there’s even space for you to meet a few peacocks, Cape Barron geese and red-necked wallabies after you’ve had your bbq. There’s also an all-access playground so nobody has to miss out on a bit of fun.
7. Arthur McElhone Reserve, Elizabeth Bay
Located on the corner of Billyard and Onslow Avenues, Arthur McElhone Reserve is a small garden block that offers panoramic views of the harbour as well as an ornamental lake with a stone bridge. After the land was purchased by the Sydney City Council, the garden design was completed by council employee Ilmar Berzins, reputedly the first formally trained landscape architect in Australia.
8. Cooper Park, Double Bay
Over the years, Cooper Park has slowly gotten bigger and bigger. Today, it is approximately 38 acres in size. Running through the middle the park is a creek that follows the line of a volcanic dyke of Jurassic age and native trees and shrubs populate the hillsides. There are many walking tracks to explore and dogs are permitted too so long as they remain on a leash.