Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
The Royal Botanic Garden is somewhat of a well-kept secret for both visitors and locals. It is hard to believe that such a lovely expanse of interesting parklands can coexist with a bustling CBD. It is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia and is home to an amazing collection of plants from around the world with a particular focus on flora from Australia and the South Pacific.
It all began in 1788 when the colony’s first farm, Farm Cove, was established by Governor Phillip. In 1816 Governor Lachlan Macquarie founded the Botanic Gardens of Sydney on this site and if you visit the gardens, Macquarie Street runs right alongside with some of the architecturally wonderful buildings that Macquarie also commissioned.
The Botanic Gardens are a delightful spot for a stroll, to explore or just have a sit and relax. At the northern end the Botanic Garden sits on Sydney Harbour, next to the Sydney Opera House. It is surrounded by the unfenced parkland known as the Domain, which is open to the public 24 hours a day. The Botanic Garden sits at the heart of Sydney’s cultural domain as well with art galleries, museums and performing arts part of its makeup. The gardens and parklands host to some of Sydney’s biggest festivals, celebrations and events and play an important role in providing recreational, sporting and relaxation facilities for the city’s workers, residents and visitors.
One of the best ways to explore the Royal Botanic Gardens is to take one of the self-guided walks on offer. They are all themed, have different points of interest (which can be downloaded from the links provided below) and it will be best to allow 90 minutes to a couple of hours so you can enjoy at leisure.
There’s the Memories of World War One Walk… start at the Eucalyptus Gum Tree – During World War One the troops would receive gum leaves, enclosed in their letters, from families and friends. Each evening in the trenches it was tradition to burn the leaves so the Australian soldiers could share the smell of home. The Heritage Walk has significant examples of the early history and development of Sydney since European settlement. The Aboriginal Heritage Walk highlights the significance of native plants to Aboriginal culture. Early Aboriginal inhabitants, the Cardigal, were hunters and gatherers and were intimately associated with their environment. The Domain Walk starts at the Opera House and returns to Government House – en route from Bennelong Point it takes in Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Woolloomooloo Gate, the Art Gallery of NSW, St Mary’s Gate, The Mint and Hyde Park Barracks, The Bent Street Entrance, The Garden Palace, Old Government House Site (1788-1845) and the Conservatorium of Music. And the Arts and Memorials Walk follows a path to focus on the fountains, sculptures and memorials in the gardens – there are 55 points of interest on this walk!
The Royal Botanic Gardens (including the Domain) must rate as one of Sydney’s best attractions and entry is free.