Sydney: The Royal Botanic garden, the Harbour, and the North Head Quarantine station

Early morning at Balmoral beach

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..

Red flowering eucalyptus Corymbia ‘Summer Red’ It is a hybrid between two different Western Australian species (C.ficifolia and C.ptychocarpa

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.

Purple Fountain Grass Pennisetum species advena Rubrum

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 .

Canna Lilies ”Yellow Giant”
Spider Lily Hymenocallis
Grevillea ”Molly” Proteaceae
Kangaroo Paw The common name for a number of species. (Haemodoraceae) They are unique, bird attracting flowers
Banksia robur (swamp banksia).

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!

A glimpse of the Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge

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.

This photo was taken from the restaurant window. The Manly ferry rocking and rolling into the Harbour.

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.

here is an aerial view of North Head coastline in Sydney, and the longest operating quarantine station.

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.

1920s. Mrs N. Skinner, 11/31 Wycombe Rd, Neutral Bay

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.

sun rising over the headlands of Sydney
Are you talking to me?Cockatoos rising above it all….as usual!

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.

Geraldine Mackey Copyright: All Rights Reserved

16 Replies to “Sydney: The Royal Botanic garden, the Harbour, and the North Head Quarantine station”

  1. What a wonderful, colourful day you had. Your post brought back memories of my trips to Sydney often visiting the same places. Thank you very much for taking me along.

    1. I’m glad it brought back good memories, it is a lovely place to visit, however, almost impossible to buy a house or apartment these days.

    1. Yes, that trans Taman bubble is supposed to be opening in a few weeks. Sydney is always so warm and sunny, you would enjoy it in April and May.

  2. Happy Anniversary, and I can’t imagine a more beautiful way to spend it. Gorgeous scenery, plants, feathered friends, and revisiting history always provides a learning moment. Thank you for taking us on your adventure. May you have many more happy anniversaries!

    1. Thanks Judy, it was a lovely way to spend our anniversary…even though we had to delay it due to Covid.

  3. Happy anniversary! Beautiful pictures. And yes, a city’s park is such a gift for all who live there and visit. The quarantine station is indeed a timely reminder that disease and pandemics are a part of human existence. How lucky we are to have scientists and modern medicine!

  4. Happy anniversary! And what a beautiful city. The brightly colored flowers and birds, the beaches … Some day, perhaps, we will visit.

    1. Thank you, another milestone! Yes I’m sure you and Judy would enjoy Sydney, especially the Botanic Gardens. Everything is easy to grow in Sydney.

  5. Such a wonderful way to spend your special day, Gerrie. Congratulations to you both on your anniversary. I wish you many more happy years together. I love the cheeky cockatoo photo and of course the beautiful garden images. The info regarding quarantine facilities and procedures is very interesting too, going back as far as the 14th century. Thanks for sharing. It’s always good to learn something new.

    1. Thanks Sylvia, yes I learnt a bit more along the way. Hope you are getting closer to seeing family …this should be a better year.

  6. Happy anniversary. What a wonderful day you had. I enjoyed all the photos but just can’t imagine being able to do all those things, although the pubs opened up this week, the first time since Christmas, now we can eat and drink outdoors. Lovely seeing the botanical gardens again, stunning as always. That quarantine station is fascinating, I enjoyed visiting that las time we were in Sydney. Yes a timely reminder how fragile we are. xxx

    1. Thanks Dina, it looks as if Britain has been quick to get vaccines done, so that should mean you will have a better year this year. So good to meet friends for a drink!

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