I’ve lived in Sydney my entire life apart for a few years living in London and travelling around Europe. So that’s 30 years in this beautiful city which would make you think that I have seen everything there is to see in the city.
But the other day I was walking from my office near Central Station in the city to Darling Harbour and I passed a place that had up to then eluded me. A place that I had walked past probably dozens of times in my life but had never thought to stop and check out.
Sydney’s Chinese Garden of Friendship is tucked away on a generous piece of land between Chinatown and Tumbalong Park. The walled garden has been in Sydney since 1988 and was initiated by the local Chinese community to celebrate Australia’s Bicentenary.
Inside you’ll find that the gardens are true to traditional Chinese ways of landscaping. During the build, Taoist principles such as ‘Yin-Yang’ and elements earth, fire, water, metal and wind were strongly followed creating a space that is perfect harmony, balance and provides a nurturing environment.
Once your through the gate its hard not to instantly start to relax and feel yourself become immersed in the beautiful and tranquil surroundings. The sounds of trickling water and a light breeze in the weeping trees blocks out most of the city sounds that surround the garden.
If you follow the path left your taken through the Hall of Longevity where you can view the Dragon Wall, a colourful dragon Chinese art pieces that separates the courtyard from the pond.
The path then leads the to Lake of Brightness, meandering along the edge through a few more pavilions until you reach the waterfall. It then climbs slightly along the waterfall before bringing you back down past the The Gurr or Clear View Pavilion which is really the focal point of the whole garden.
Take the meandering path through the gardens down to the otherside of the Lake of Brightness before you join up with the pavilions again. There are some really nice places to sit in shaded pavilions along the Lotus Pond and watch the Koi fish swimming around and occasionally jumping from the water into the air.
You can finish your visit with tea at the Teahouse with indoor and outdoor pond side seating.
The walk around the Lake of Brightness and Lotus Pond takes no more than half an hour but I recommend taking the time to read the information boards in the pavilions and taking a few moments from time to time to sit in tranquility and enjoy the view over the garden and water.
What I enjoyed most about my visit was the different shaped doorways that framed the view looking out into other parts of the gardens. I really enjoyed just being able to wander freely through the gardens and sit peacefully whenever I felt inclined. It really was the perfect way to unwind and relax after a busy day. It help my mind settle and focus for the evening ahead.
Because this was an impromptu visit for me, I didn’t bring my camera but I did have my iPhone which I think takes some pretty good photos. Here are a selection of my favourite shots taken with my iPhone during my visit to Sydney’s Chinese Garden of Friendship to hopefully inspire you to visit next time your in Sydney.
Entrance to the garden is via the pathway leading from Pier St to Tumbalong Park and Darling Harbour. It is about a 15 minutes walk from Central Train Station or a few minutes from Exhibition Centre Light Rail Station.
Entry is AUS$6.00 adults and AUS$3.00 for students, children under 12 and concession card holders. A family ticket for two adults and two children can be purchased for AUS$15.00.
The garden is open from 09:00-17:00 daily all year round except for Good Friday and Christmas Day. There are guided tours available a few times a day. Check with the ticket office for times. And if you can manage to time your visit around 11:30 or 15:30 you can watch the gardens horticulture team feed to Koi fish.
For more information check out the Chinese Garden of Friendship on the Darling Harbour website.
Over to you!
Where in the world have you found the most peaceful gardens? Why did you find them to be more peaceful than others you have visited?
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