The Hunter Valley Gardens are a project of the Roche Family who spent over 20 million dollars on their pet project. Although it is a commercial venture, it's also a dream. What a wonderful dream for all the world to share!
At Christmas time it comes alive at night. BE WARNED, buy your ticket on the internet before you get there as the place gets packed. It's Australia's finest display of Christmas lights and the word has gotten around. Don't let the crowds deter you, it's worth a look.
This is a spectacular Chineses Garden, which I loved! It had lots of buildings, stone walkways, arches, waterfalls, ponds and of course, flowers and trees. My mum and dad also celebrated their wedding anniversary while we were here, so it was extra special!
I read that they were designed in China to celebrate the Australian Bicentenary. The garden was a gift to Sydney from its Chinese sister city of Guangdong. It is one of the largest of its type outside Asia, with pavilions, lakes, waterfalls and a Chinese teahouse.
The gardens are a great hidey spot, green and peacful, a sanctuary in the midst of a major bustling city and an ideal escape from the concrete surrounds of Darling Harbour. If you want an hour or two of solitude, this is the place to do it!
The Chinese Gardens are open from 9.30am-5pm daily. They close at 6.30pm during the summer (daylight savings) months.
I saved the better shots of my Great North Walk for this tip to give you something to look at.
I only spent about 2 hours on the trail and found that you can go to lots of different places as there are intersections everywhere.
I started from Cheltenham (near Beecroft) and wandered in a north easterly direction on the well trodden trails. Unless you're totally incompetent you shouldn't get lost as the signs not only give directions but distances as well.
We aimed for Browns Waterhole which was just under an hour walking time but we took it fairly easy because someone was taking a lot of photos....mmmm.
If you want to use public transport then aim for Cheltenham Station and find Day Street from there, it's down at the end.
It was a spur of the moment thing. I had just met someone and they were into bushwalking and they happened to mention a trail just down the road. So, I said, "Let's go for a walk" and, we did!
It opened up an extraordinary world to me that I had no previous knowledge of. Cutting through the middle of Sydney's northern suburbs is a creek. Either side of that creek is classic Aussie bush clinging to sandstone walls just like when it was first discovered by Europeans. Here there are no signs of civilization, no road noise, no screaming children, just quiet woodlands.
Most of what I walked on was part of Lane Cove National Park and featured bits of the Great North walk, an old convict built route to Newcastle of over 200 kilometres.
There is excellent signposting at each intersection (pic 3) and the map in pic 4 shows just how it weaves through the middle of populated suburbs.
Particularly in spring and early summer you are likely to encounter water dragons. Don't panic, the only noise you'll hear will be as they scramble off into the bush trying to get away from you.
Art Barton Park is named after the renowned artist of Luna Park It is on a section of Lavender Bay foreshore immediately to the west of Luna Park.
Art worked as an artist at Luna Park from 1935 until 1970 when he retired. In the early 1950's he redesigned the entrance and created the clown face that became the iconic image of Luna Park.
So if yo do happen to visit Luna Park, walk just a little further to this small, out of the way park and pay tribute to a character with a long standing association to the nearby fairground.
You have to go see these bats at the botanical garden, either day or night. Okay so its a little creepy, but amazing. They hang down from the trees at during the day, you can stand right underneath them, very cool.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a huge reserve bordering the mouth of the Hawkesbury River. To see some authentic aboriginal rock art, including engravings and "red hands", try the Garigal Aboriginal Heritage Walk (about a 1.5 hour bushwalk that starts on West Head Road) which includes great water views.
It takes about an hour to drive from downtown Sydney. It costs $11 per car to enter the park, but after that everything is free. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Wynyard (downtown) to Palm Beach, and from there enter the park by ferry. Take a picnic lunch with you as there is not a lot available in the park. The park closes at 5:30pm in the winter and 8:00pm in the summer (daylight saving time).
As you'll learn from one of my "to do" tips, a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney is a must. For our family, it's almost religion to spend quite time exploring a lovely green oasis in the center of a major city.
One of the more interesting things about the Royal Botanical Garden is the colony of "flying fox" bats. Located in the trees just beyond the Lion's Gate, you can hear them squeaking in the distance as you approach their little forest. At first, you don't realize what you're seeing and hearing... but all of a sudden, you find yourself in a sea of bats. Thousands of them, all over the sky. And, there's even more of them hanging upside down in the trees, getting some daytime shut-eye.
...just another interesting and slightly unusual aspect to the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens experience.
This little fellow was definately off the path, he was taking a snooze up a tree on the edge of the botanic gardens
if he hadnt moved l dont think Carl would have spotted his pink nose, his fur was very well camoflaged against the grey bark
We were thrilled to meet our first native Australian creature, a really cute possum
If you just want a relaxing day after exploring and partying in the city, Hyde park is the place to rejuvenate. It is Sydney;s most structured park compete with fountains and huge trees. It is located between Elizabeth St and College St.
Of course the day we ventured here they are having a big St Patrick's Day celebration. The trooper that we are and Ireland being a fave place of mine we join in the festivities.. My liver is screaming for mercy, hehe
This is atypical of scenery on the Central Coast. The light brown coloured eucalypt you see here is only found on a relatively small section of hinterland north of Sydney and the sandstone on which it sits is a common part of the landscape in this area.
The smooth-barked angophora has to hook on to the sandstone base with its wraparound root system, ever seeking the cracks that will let it find sustenance.
If you haven't been to Australia before and you end up on a bush walk, there's lots to see for those who keep their eyes peeled and listen for the sounds of the bush.
This is an example of what you might note if you keep a keen eye out.
This delightful bush orchid is only small (I was actually on the ground taking this picture) but is one of the many rewards for the interested.
This place is listed (surprisingly to me, I have to admit) as one of the top ten things to do while in Sydney. Ashamedly, I had to admit, I hadn't been there.
Hadn't, that is, until Rosemarie and I plunged down into the sandstone-lined gorge that surrounds this haven on the northern outskirts of Sydney.
Berowra is really a part of the Hawkesbury River system and, as such, probably more realistically belongs with the Central Coast but, because of the way the city has grown, it has been enveloped by Australia's largest city.
If you are tired with all those shoppings and need a more quiet relax time, just go to the central park oppsite the central train station. Rest your legs, feed the pigeons and also enjoy the peaceful of the area.
Victoria park is a great place to hang out. There are lots of amazing fig trees around the park, and you can sit on the lawn and relax. Or if you feel like swimming, the Victoria Park Pool is just right in the middle of the park.