My blog is intended to highlight Canberra, and green spaces, but every now and then, Sydney, this beautiful city, takes over, especially on Australia Day!
Recently I featured two of Tim Read’s photos of Bondi Beach, and this morning Tim was up before dawn to take these lovely photos.
The Sydney Opera House is located in Sydney Harbour and is made up of a series of gleaming white sailed-shaped shells as its roof structure. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most photographed buildings in Australia, and especially beautiful at dawn and dusk.
The Dawn Projection and much of the Sydney program this year is guided by First Nations representatives and features many of the First Nations artists showcasing their stunning artistic works on the Opera House.
What a wonderful start to Australia Day!
As my blog is about green spaces, I marvel that early urban planners in Sydney, have managed to save so much greenery, especially around the beautiful Opera House. You can only imagine how developers these days would love to build on these green spaces!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and many thanks to Tim for getting up before dawn to take such lovely photos of the Sydney Opera House.
We recently spent a couple of days celebrating our anniversary in a beachside area of Sydney.
Sydney on a summer’s day is full of sunshine, colour and birds. I had fun taking photos of the suburban gardens and our ferry trip into the city..
This small tree is one of the most widely planted ornamental eucalyptus trees in Australia. It only grows about 5 metres tall so is suitable for gardens in Sydney. It has a pretty cluster of flowers dripping with nectar for the birds…..a win/win for any garden.
This grassy ever green (and purple) plant is used in many gardens in Australia. (alas not Canberra as it is not suitable for cold winters.)The wispy feathery grass is also often seen in public parks and gardens or embankments, but I have rarely seen one so healthy and well placed. It was tempting to run my hands along it every time we passed by…
Relatively speaking Sydney did not have many COVID cases or lockdowns during this last year, however the lack of tourists and people moving around the city was very obvious. Only three people boarded the ferry with us, and we chose to sit outside…absolute bliss on a sunny day!
After the ferry ride, we went to an art exhibition, had a quick lunch, and then a stroll through the Australian native section of the Royal Botanic gardens .
Banksias are well suited to Australian conditions, not only do they provide food for birds, but they can re-sprout after fire! A fellow gardener told me that after the Canberra fires, a Banksia in her garden, quickly re-grew, and two or three gardens in the street also found they had new Banksias in their gardens too!
The Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney spreads from the city centre to the edge of the harbour.
How very enlightened were the city planners to save this slice of heaven for all to enjoy!
Once we were back at Balmoral beach we stopped off at a small restaurant, and had some lovely fresh fish and dessert.
When I showed Paul the photo he pointed out that I had also taken a photo of the old quarantine station.
North Head is known as Car-rang-gel by the Gayamagal People and was once used for spiritual ceremonies and rituals. This land was part of the setting for the earliest interaction between Aboriginal people and early European settlers and explorers.
This quarantine station was in operation from August 1832 to February 1984. It was established to regulate the risk of disease, with the arrival of free and convict Europeans and the merchant trading ships.
The practise of quarantine began in the 14th century in an effort to protect coastal cities from plagues and epidemics. The word quarantine was derived from the Italian words ”quaranta giorni” which meant ”forty days” Ships arriving in Venice from infected parts were required to sit at anchor for 40 days before offloading on shore…at least the ships coming to Australia did not have to wait quite so long!
During the period 1910-1950 the facilities increased and improved and in 1918-19 the centre held the maximum number of people following the influenza epidemic.
Despite our beautiful surroundings it was a timely reminder of the epidemics of the past and the fragility of the world we live in.
Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope your days are filled with sunshine and gardening, and perhaps some left-over chocolate from Easter.
In my last post we visited Barangaroo in Sydney. As I was writing that post, I noticed that I had quite a few photos of the surrounding area…. and this is the stroll we took around the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2018.
Paul and our daughter Jessica have climbed the Harbour Bridge (not for me, I’d be terrified). The bridge climbs are so popular bookings have to be made months in advance (pre CV 19). There are very specific preparations and instructions given by the group guide before the climb begins. Everyone wears the same overalls, no one is allowed to carry personal items of any kind, all photos are taken by the guides.
Both Paul and Jessica said it was an experience of a life-time.
For those of us who prefer something a little more sedate, a ferry ride around the harbour is easy, and a lovely way to spend a summer’s morning.
On this visit, in late June, we spent some time with my brother and sister-in-law, who live in one of the many coastal suburbs around the dramatic cliff-faces of Sydney.
No matter what time of the year we visit Sydney, there is always colour, movement, and usually sunshine. Sydney’s climate is subtropical, shifting from mild to cool in winter, to warm and hot and humid in summer. A gardener’s paradise I should think.
During our many visits I am always delighted by the local landscapes.
Even on the verge of some gardens there are interesting and thoughtful designs and planting, for the passer-by to enjoy.
The succulents in this garden are particularly striking.
These succulents have been so carefully planted, I wonder how difficult it is to maintain this almost perfect design…
Sydney is always a treat to visit, and I’ll end with the exotic bougainvillea which almost grows wild in Sydney, and reminds me of my childhood in Africa where it seemed to take over every garden!
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and may your days be filled with sunshine and warmth!
Has anyone told Sydney it is the middle of winter in Australia?
Paul and I have come to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Sydney. It is mid-winter in Australia, and we left our home in Canberra very early in the morning, frost melting on the grass. Four hours later, here we are sitting in Barangaroo Reserve, peeling off jackets and coats, and reaching for hats and sun cream, and looking at Sydney harbour.
It is always a miracle when a prime piece of real estate is partly given over to parkland and public use, and this beautiful, relatively new piece of green space in Sydney, is one such miracle.
The former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, a long term resident of Sydney, was an early advocate for a public reserve. His vision was to return the area, known as Miller’s Point, to a ”naturalistic park”.
One of Sydney’s oldest industrial sites on the Harbour has now been transformed into a six hectare headland of open spaces. The planting and landscape is designed to replicate the vegetation before European settlement, making it as natural as possible.
Huge blocks of sandstone re-create the original harbour foreshore, and the sandstone is weathering and changing with time.
Over 76,000 plants and native trees, palms and tree ferns, native shrubs, small trees, native ground covers, grasses and ferns, have been planted in the last few years. Needless to say the native birds love this natural habitat.
The Barangaroo Reserve stands on the land of the Gadigal clan. Barangaroo is named after an indigenous woman who was married to Bennelong. She was a spokesperson between indigenous Australians and the new British penal colony… and was, from all accounts, proud of her culture, and a feisty character at a time when she needed to be so!
Many years ago I lived in Sydney, near Balls Head Reserve, and Paul has taken a photo of me with a view of my old ”stomping ground” in the background.
As you can see around this area, there is plenty of construction work going on with apartments, hotels, restaurants, being built on the right hand side of the harbour.
The walking and cycling pathways take us to the edge of the city, not far from The Rocks (where you can see some of the original houses of early Sydney.) It is possible to walk to well known parts of the city, from here, for example, Darling Harbour and The Rocks and Circular Quay.
We chose to take the steps to the top of the Reserve, and have one last view of Sydney Harbour.
Salute to Paul Keating and many others who persisted in this vision, we now have a wonderful reserve for everyone to share.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and may your day be as bright as a winter Sydney day!
Sydney in summer…beautiful one day, and gorgeous the next!
The day I took these photos a sea mist was coming in, consequently the photos are slightly hazy.
National Geographic tells me that a sea mist can form when warm air from land suddenly encounters cool air over the ocean.
We overheard some early morning joggers say that this usually means a hot steamy day ahead…and that was true.
Sydney is about a four hour drive from our home in Canberra, and it is a trip we do often because we have many relatives and friends living in this beautiful city.
The aerial photo below shows Sydney’s inlets and bays, and those who are lucky enough to live around the bays, can take a ferry into the city.
We stayed in Neutral Bay on the right in the photo below..
This is a trip down memory lane for me because I began my teaching career in Sydney, and l lived in a shared house in Neutral Bay….
Isn’t it grand? I shared the ground floor of this house with three other people, and a couple lived upstairs.
it seems amazing to think, in the ’70s, there were many large houses, (I lived in two) that were relatively cheap to rent…this is now one of the most expensive suburbs in Sydney.
The name Neutral Bay comes from the early colonial period of Australia when Governor Arthur Phillip declared this bay as a neutral bay where foreign ships could anchor and take on water and supplies, but far enough away from the settlement to avoid trouble!
We did a family walk back to my lovely rented accommodation, but it is now surrounded by high walls and is hardly recognisable.
Never mind, I have wonderful memories of sitting on the ferry to go to work, and there is no better way to de-stress from a noisy class than to come home on a ferry in the afternoon and feel the cool breeze from the harbour.
We went for plenty of early morning walks and I was reminded of how important trees are in all cities, but especially those with long hot summers.
In summer Sydney is full of incidental colour, plants love the climate..
Perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad living in a unit (apartment) if you looked out on these tranquil gardens..
We passed this Uniting Church every day. They had a flourishing vegetable garden
and this little Internet garden with free Wi-Fi and two comfy chairs… so thoughtful!
In some ways the suburb hasn’t changed since my relaxed days living here.
It still has a village feel, with locals enjoying the warm night air, sitting outside small restaurants eating good food and drinking wine and craft beers. (well, we were anyway)
Since our trip to Sydney the weather has deteriorated, and we are now experiencing a heatwave across the country.
….so I hope you are keeping cool or warm where ever you are in the world..
Sydney has a population of about 4 million people, and nearly as many tourists in summer. Almost everyone is looking for a beach… and Bondi Beach is the most famous.
… the best kept secret is dawn on a summer’s day on Bondi Beach………the soft sky and pearl-coloured beach make this a magical time….and so few people see it..
I came to Australia, from Central Africa when I was 19 years old, and very briefly spent some time in Bondi with my brother before I went to University to train to be a teacher…
In those days, the beach seemed wide and empty most of the time…
One of my brothers, Neil, has lived in the Bondi area all of his adult life. Walking along the beach and swimming in this lovely Icebergs pool is a routine he has continued into retirement.
He now walks and/or swims every day with the same group he has known for years. They have lived through all the ups and downs of life together, and, Neil says, can almost finish each others’ sentences.
(My Dad walked with a similar group in Port Macquarie, and they called themselves ”Dad’s Army”)
Neil and his lovely wife Jo very generously lend us their house during the Christmas period. This means our two daughters, our son-in-law, and new granddaughter have a comfortable home in Sydney for Christmas, and we can visit Paul’s big exended family.
On Christmas morning we get a smoothie inside the Bondi Pavilion. The morning is warming up and the people are gathering in swimmers and Santa Hats…
Inside the Pavilion are some wonderful old photos of Bondi beach..
and it looks as if it was always popular and crowded with cars…today you need a special permit to park here..
Paul always says Sydney has a special kind of blue sky, and here it is…
Good to see Sydney is using the sun for recycling… the small print on the rubbish bin says..” I use the sun to squash your rubbish and fit five times more in…'”
These days Bondi has suntanned locals, backpackers, European travellers escaping the winter, movie stars and celebrity chefs….Bill Granger’s restaurant in Bondi is lovely for coffee and cake.
Despite the mix, Bondi still has a kind of casual friendliness that I like…perhaps it is the combination of sun and space and colour….
The bougainvillea winds itself around garden fences as we walk back up the hill
Morning glory spills over the edge of the cliff and onto the footpaths that we walk on…
Our daughters look out for the Frangipani, and always remind me that my Mum used to make necklaces for them out of the flowers in their home, the equally beautiful Port Macquarie.
My neighbour often says she gets ”postcards” (memories) from her mother…same here..
The sheer tenacity of some flowers blowing off the cliffs around Sydney is amazing..
This one has a mix of yellow and pink blossoms, and they all flower away, while weathering the blowing winds and storms that are felt in these exposed coastal parts of Sydney..
Even the beetles in Sydney are pretty cool…
and of course the cliffs around Bondi are a real delight..
… it is possible to walk along most of the coastline and enjoy the same views seen for centuries…without noticing the crowds in shops and on beaches…. don’t be fooled, Sydney has lots of hidden gems…
These cliffs deserve their own post, one day soon!
I hope you can visit Canberra’s Green Spaces for my next post, which is our visit to the exhibition of Pollination in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.
We recently spent time in Sydney with my Scottish cousins….
It was nice to take the time and see the city centre through tourists’ eyes
We walked through Hyde Park every day, and we were grateful to have these enormous trees giving us so much shade in Sydney’s hot summer.
Jane Jose in her book Places Women Make says… liveability means being able to walk to a park, near where you live, have shady trees and seating and ”accidental connectedness” to your neighbourhood or city….
This part of Hyde Park is very familiar to me as I came here every day when I first arrived in Sydney, from Africa, aged 19. I sat in the park and waited for my brother to finish work. (my two brothers were the only people I knew in Australia at that time.)
The park gave me a connection with people, and I began to feel part of the city.
The Domain is near Hyde Park, and has some great playing fields for groups to use at lunch time in the city…
I love this sign, ”A place for people” …what a great reminder for all big cities!!
The flowers boxes in the city this summer are wonderful, and I have never seen parsley used so well in a flower bed…
Most of all I love buskers and music in the city….I always give some money to someone who is providing music….it is the food of life!
I’ll end with another beautiful, but exhausting city, Rome…we were there in May last year.
Even a glorious city like Rome can become too much, and one day we found this wonderful park. We sat in the shade of some big trees and listened to a busker playing the trumpet
soft melodious jazz never sounded so good …I can hear that music as I write…
Do you have a favourite park in your part of the world?
‘‘Have you ever noticed that botanical gardens often make you think of Paradise?” Francis Halle French botanist 2004
Welcome to the Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens, a little piece of paradise in Australia’s largest city.
….who would be anywhere else on a lovely summer’s day?
The Royal Botanic Gardens were established in 1816 and cover an area of 30 hectares along the foreshore of Sydney harbour.
Plants, lawns, trees and bush line the edge of the city right up to the Opera House and give views of the Harbour Bridge.
Can you imagine trying to preserving that amount of prime land for the public today?
Salute to our visionary forebears!
The Gardens are home to nearly 9000 plant species from all over the world, with a focus on Australia and the South Pacific.
A sign near the sculptures says…
‘‘ Before European settlement this foreshore was a mud flat. Seeds, flotsam were washed up by waves. Ships arrived in the tide in 1788 and crops were planted soon after. This area has been dedicated ever since to the introduction and propagation of plants reflecting the changing culture and horticultural needs of the day.”
These sculptures symbolise the seeds washed up by the tide, blown by the wind, eroded by the water, and laden with potential for vigour and transformation.
The huge older trees, like this fig tree have been given space and time to grow, and now they provide plentiful shade in summer. (They say the shade of a big tree is worth one air-conditioner)
The flowers of the mature Magnolia trees are magnificent at this time of the year.
This tropical garden has lush colourful foliage, and flamboyant flowers and plants…orchids, hibiscus, palm….sensory overload while I sit nearby drinking iced coffee!
Our home in Canberra, a four hour drive away, is a world away in terms of plants and climatic conditions. We have hot dry summers and cold, frosty winters. The Sydney climate of long humid summers and mild winters is a big contrast.
The Botanic Gardens provide habitat for wildlife….colourful birds, fruit bats and water dragons..
The Herb gardens, not far from the city streets, have blossoming herbs, sunflowers and all kinds of bee attracting flowers…
…what a bonus to have so much variety in such a big bustling city…
This beautiful sundial was fascinating for tourists and especially children…..imagine the sun directing our time rather than our Iphones ….incredible!
I love visiting big cities like Sydney…but, thank goodness for gardens like this glorious one…..
I return to my favourite quote….(one day I will find out who wrote it..)
”when the world wearies, and society does not satisfy, there is always the garden”
Salute again to those generous forebears who had the wisdom and energy to started this wonderful garden… for everyone.
Early on New Year’s Day 2016 Sydney was a very quiet place after a big night of fireworks and parties.
We took advantage of the quiet to visit a wonderful public garden with an extraordinary story.
Brett Whiteley, a famous Australian painter and his wife Wendy, also an artist, settled in Lavender Bay, a secluded inlet on Sydney’s north side.
Brett Whiteley called this place ”optical ecstasy” and many of his paintings reflected these scenes.
Brett Whiteley died in 1992 aged 52, and tragically the couple’s only daughter, died of a rare cancer in 2001.
After Brett’s death Wendy, in her grief, began clearing an overgrown dump of derelict public land below their house.
Over 20 years she poured her money, creative skills, energy and emotion into transforming the wasteland by the harbour into a public garden.
The Moreton Bay Fig is the feature point of the garden, and its magnificent trunk and branches seem to reach protectively over the garden.
It is a challenging steep site, but over time, steps and paths have been built, first by Wendy and some faithful gardeners, and now by many volunteers as well.
Sydney has a wonderful climate for many different plants, and gradually the plants have almost engulfed the paths in some areas.Wendy, has no background in horticulture. However, she has the artist’s eye for colour, shape and texture and design.
As a child Wendy loved the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett called The Secret Garden. This garden began as her secret garden, a place where the physical needs of the garden gave her a distraction from grief, but also a place of solitude, and in time, replenishment.
As the garden developed it gradually became more than Wendy’s garden, it became a haven for many people who come to sit for a while in the cool dappled shade, read a book, or simply enjoy the lush green plants…. away from noisy city life.
the power of the garden….
Wendy says ”Loss is something all people end up dealing with one way or another. Sometimes it can be too much, but I have learnt we must give ourselves time to get over the stages of grieving. The amazing thing about life is that deep sadness can, in its own time eventually lead you on the path to renewal and discovery….
………This garden started as therapy, but it’s gone way beyond that, into a joyous celebration of life and nature, and a desire to share. I transformed an ugly wasteland into a beautiful garden, and along the way, the garden transformed me.”
As this is public land, the future of the garden was precarious, but in October 2015 the NSW government gave the garden a 30 year lease with a 30 year renewal option.
Many thanks to Wendy for building a garden such as this in a time of grief, and now it is available for all to share, in a quiet and caring way.