Friday, 22 April 2016

# 8 - Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens are a large garden area located right beside Sydney CBD, stretching from the harbour front beside the Opera House, right up to Hyde Park.  It covers an area of about 30 hectares.  As I mentioned in another post, this means absolutely nothing to me.  I have no concept of the size of a hectare, let alone 30 hectares.  It takes about 15-20 minutes to walk from one side to the other if that helps, although that obviously depends on how quickly you walk.

A large tree in front of some grass
Inside the gardens are lots of trees, plants, flowers and grass areas.  I don't claim to be a botanist, so I can't give too many details on these, but there seemed to be a wide range, including lots of tropical species.  There are also a few ponds, a cafe, restaurant, Visitor's Centre and bookshop.  There are a variety of wonderfully named gardens, including the 'Succulent Garden'.  I have to confess that I didn't know which gardens were which when we visited, so I have no idea what was in the Succulent Garden, but I love the name.  One fairly obvious garden was the Palm Grove, which has lots of palm trees.

Some kind of tree or shrub

Another unidentified tree - I really should have paid more attention

In addition to the gardens, there are also a couple of areas which are considered tourist attractions in their own right.  One of the main ones is Government House, which is a nice building with lovely gardens, located in the North West section of the park.  Another is Mrs Macquarie's Chair, which is one of the most popular spots in Sydney for picture postcard views of the harbour.  The other big one which I will mention here is the Art Gallery of NSW, which is located next to The Domain, in the South Eastern part of the gardens.

The jail cells in Sydney are not that bad
With all the greenery and attractions, there is plenty to keep you occupied in the Royal Botanic Gardens.  There are paths that criss cross throughout the gardens, and it is a very pleasant place to just wander around slowly.  Probably the most spectacular walk in our opinion is the walk from Mrs Macquarie's Chair, around Farm Cove towards the Opera House.  This is a stunning walk along the waterfront, with the ever awesome Sydney harbour on one side, and the picturesque Royal Botanic Gardens on the other.

The view from the Botanic Gardens towards the Opera House and Harbour Bridge
Although the gardens are hugely popular, there are plenty of paths, and they tend to be quite wide, so it rarely feels over crowded.  They often have events on in and around the gardens, such as the open air cinema in the summer, which is shown just along from Mrs Macquarie's Chair.  This same venue is used for Opera on the harbour at other times.

The New Year fireworks from the Royal Botanic Gardens
Given the great views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and CBD skyline, it is also a great spot for the new year fireworks.  We viewed the fireworks from here, and it was really spectacular.  One of our group had to sign up as 'Friends of the Garden', which allowed them to bring 10 friends, and there was an entry fee of about 125 dollars per person.  This may seem expensive when all you get is a seat on some grass, but it is a seat with a great view, and much cheaper than most of the other options that provide similar views.  It was also a bit more spacious than many other places, although it certainly had plenty of people.

I would have settled for a catherine wheel and some sparklers, but this works too
Can you share a bit more knowledge on some of the plants and trees that can be viewed in the Royal Botanic Gardens?  Please leave any questions or thoughts in the comments below.

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