Spring has sprung and Sydney has finally been welcome to some warm rays of sunshine to brighten up our days. On the days where it isn’t blistering hot and, at the same time, is not bucketing down with rain, few things are better than grabbing a few of your mates, or a significant other, and heading down to a garden for a relaxing day in the great outdoors. So, to narrow down the almost endless list of possibilities, here’s the best gardens to visit if you’re looking for something to do on your next day off – just remember to watch out for those pesky magpies.
Hunter Valley Gardens
With a variety of themed gardens to visit, a mere 60 acres of land to cover, and around eight kilometres of walking tracks, the Hunter Valley Gardens require more than a simple day trip to fully enjoy this spectacular site. Even throughout the year the Hunter Valley Gardens host numerous events which gives you the perfect excuse to return for an inspiring walk around the seasonal plants and stunning statues.
Step through a traditional Chinese Moongate guarded by two bronzed gardens and say hello to the happy Buddha or get lost in Wonderland at the Storybook Garden where you can relive your childhood with characters such as Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep. Find your zen at the Oriental Garden which is reminiscent of Japanese and Korean culture while the Formal Garden will have you travelling all the way to France and England.
Whenever you head north to wine country, a stop at the Hunter Valley Gardens makes for a well-deserved break from the typical working week and will keep the whole family entertained – but make sure you stick together, the sheer size of the place makes it easy to get lost in.
Where: 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin
Contact: 02 4998 4000 | Official Website
Chinese Garden of Friendship
The Chinese Garden of Friendship is that little piece of serenity in the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Once you enter this peaceful garden, it can be hard to believe that a busy road lies just on the other side of the towering walls and it almost seems as if you’ve taken a step back through time with the traditional Chinese architecture and the elegant koi fish swimming around the lakes.
Symbolizing the bond between China and Australia, the gardens were designed by Guangzhou, Sydney’s sister city, and draws influences from the Ming Dynasty. Get lost exploring the Rock Forest, take in the beauty of the Dragon Wall or head to one of the pavilions to bask in the amazing architecture. For a perfect end to a day of relaxation, head to the Chinese Teahouse where you can enjoy a selection of tea whilst taking in the beautiful view of the garden.
Where: 1 Exhibition Place, Darling Harbour
Contact: 02 9240 8888 | Official Website
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden
A peaceful retreat from the summer heat, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is open all year round and is a great choice for a date or even a weekend escape. You can find a variety of unique plants within the 28 hectares of the garden including the blue paya which only bloom in the month of November and sometimes not at all. The most curious foliage that can be located around the garden is the wollemi pine which was originally thought to be extinct, but was once again discovered in the canyon of Wollemi National Park back in 1994.
When you need a break from all the walking, or you just want to grab a bite before heading back home, stop by the Tomah Garden’s Restaurant which was created by Sean Moran who aims to sell high-quality food with local ingredients to provide healthy meals for visitors. So if you want to discover sweeping vistas of the Blue Mountains and stand next to exotic plants that are able to grow due to the cool-climate, then this Botanic Garden is your dream destination all year around.
Where: Bells Line of Rd, Mount Tomah
Contact: 02 4567 3000 | Official Website
Australian Botanic Garden
Located just an hour’s drive south-west of Sydney, the Australian Botanic Gardens present around 2000 different species of plants which have been discovered on this relatively new continent. The entire collection is spread across 416 hectares of land which features rolling hills, still lakes and even several permanent sculptures. Walking through the colourful array of plants, it is not surprising that the Australian Botanic Gardens have become a popular choice as a wedding venue.
Cyclists rejoice; there are plenty of trails available to help you discover the gardens at a faster pace with several levels to suit beginners as well as advanced mountain bike riders. For those who want to take their time strolling around the gardens, the walking paths will take you everywhere you would everwant to go with sections featuring wattles, banksias, river red gums and grevilleas – there’s practically a plant in every colour of the rainbow.
Where: Narellan Road, Mount Annan
Contact: Official Website
Royal Botanic Gardens
Remaining as the oldest botanic garden in Australia since its establishment in 1816, the Royal Botanic Garden is just a stone’s throw away from Sydney Harbour and sits right next door to the iconic Opera House. Focusing on a collection of plants from Australia and the South Pacific, it is easy to spend a day here just walking around the greenery then heading over to the endless choice of restaurants in the CBD when you start feeling a bit peckish.
Whether you want to explore a rainforest, experience a taste of Asia in the oriental garden or gaze upon plants that are on the brink of extinction, the Royal Botanic Gardens have it all. Visitors can take in the view of the harbour as they picnic on the large spaces of grass or they can even take the short trek to Mrs Macquarie’s Point along Woolloomooloo Bay which remains similar to the bushland that early colonists would have seen in this area.
Where: Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney
Contact: Official Website