Greetings and salutations, My Beautiful Botanic Hobos.
In my 41 years on this earth, I have wandered through my fair share of botanic gardens and parks. There is something so relaxing and grounding to find a little pocket of nature tucked in amongst the high rises and highways.
Until I moved east for love (what better reason to pick up and move halfway across the country than a fabulous human that makes your heart sing?), my absolute favourite botanic garden was the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens in the Adelaide Hills. Since moving here eight years ago, I have been delighted to discover two stunning gardens. The Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens is a seriously worthwhile day trip from Sydney, however, you can find natural beauty without needing to escape the city.
Situated at the foot of the Sydney Opera House, nestled between the Harbour and the historic CBD, the Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens is an oasis of calm amongst the throngs of tourists and busy locals jostling for position in Australia’s largest city.
Huh. That sounded like a proper travel writer or someone trying to sell the gardens on Craigslist. Not bad for a woman in a onesie who may or may not have already cracked open her first cider for the night. But my love of Somersby Cider and age-inappropriate attire aside, the Botanic Gardens in Sydney are a gorgeous sight to behold. Any time I have a little time to kill while I’m in at The Rocks, I take a wander through the lush greenery of the gardens and enjoy the harbour views.
If, like me, you are looking to live mindfully and bring the sense of being on vacation to your everyday life, there are several reasons you will love the parklands if you have not yet taken full advantage of them. Aside from the obvious natural beauty of the place, there are a myriad of things to do in the parklands.
Sydney Botanic Gardens. Explore. Laugh. Discover.
- Wander along the waterfront and listen to the salt water lapping against the stone wall.
- Picnic with birds. But be aware that they are not afraid of you so keep one hand on your sammich while you’re laying back reading.
- Mimic the statues in the gardens and get frowned at by groundsmen who think you’re going to climb on them. But you totally aren’t, because you’re a freakin’ grown up, even if he doesn’t believe you are.
- Walk amongst the plants and discover something new.
- People watch.
- Be scarred by the functional art in the form of a terrifying rotunda.
- Be astounded by the non-terrifying art throughout the gardens
- Watch your lovely friend be terrified by the ducks who might stop swimming and come and attack her at any moment, despite their obvious disinterest in her.
- Go jogging with the most spectacular view in the city. (This is just a suggestion and in no way a promise that I will ever do anything that energetic myself.)
The Botanic Gardens appeal to the cheapskate in me as well as the lover of beauty, peace and tranquillity. Offering a range of activities from the free to the not-so-free, you may never have thought some of the events on offer existed:
- Gardening Classes
- Aboriginal Art and Cookery Classes
- Movies under the stars at Mrs Macquarie’s Point. Housed within the Botanic Gardens during the balmy summer months is the St George OpenAir Theatre. This outdoor movie theatre set against a backdrop of Sydney’s most iconic structures goes on the list of the not-so-free but is still something I’m extremely keen to do in the near future.
- Free guided walks daily
- Free exhibitions
- Free tours of Government House
- Free recitals at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music
When my children were younger and just starting to exercise their independence, they made plans to meet up with friends in the city. I was uncomfortable letting them travel into Sydney by themselves but happy for them all to hang out in a group. I travelled with them down to Circular Quay and used the Botanic Gardens as a base for the day. I lay under arching trees reading while the mid-morning light filtered through the leaves, took a ferry to Manly and back, ate lunch looking out across the water, warning the birds to back away from my sammich with stern glares, watched the ducks on the pond and eventually dawdled over to Opera Bar for a glass of bubbly while I read more.
Whether you have half an hour or the better part of the day to spend in this lush, break from the reality of city life, you will find time spent in the Royal Botanic Gardens is never wasted.