It’s the landscape that makes people rave about Sydney. But if you go by such websites as TripAdvisor, it would appear that most visitors never venture out of the Opera House-Circular Quay-Harbour Bridge triangle. To get a broader take on Sydney’s hugely diverse range of landscapes, it’s necessary to go a little further afield.
In the boondocks/hinterland, or “boonland” of Sydney, each suburb defines itself by its own little part of this bewilderingly fractured landscape, carved out from headlands, bays and peninsulas. Some localities virtually hang off sandstone cliff-faces, while other suburbs are broken up by narrow alleyways suitable only for cyclists or a rider on a very skinny horse.
Here then are just a few “hidden gems” of Sydney:
- Auburn Botanic Gardens: The nine hectares of gardens at Auburn come as an “amazing to find this here in Auburn” kind of surprise. Top features include a waterbird-attracting lake, the hugely-authentic Japanese Garden, the Native and Rain forest Garden and a fauna reserve with aviary:
- Wattle Grove: Way out west near Holsworrthy (en route to Liverpool), the well-planned suburb of Wattle Grove feels just right. People actually USE the many facilities offered, including bike paths, landscaped walking trails and an ornamental lake:
The artificial lake, which lies within the Georges River catchment and is fed by Wattle Creek, is edged with brick paving and extensive plantings of Lomandra and other native species
- Cooper Park: The heritage suburb of Woollahra demands a visit on account of its one BIG asset – Cooper Park, home to the last remaining pocket of virgin rainforest in inner Sydney. This gully running all the way from Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill to Manning Road in Double Bay was gifted to the Woollahra Council back in 1913 by wealthy landowner William Cooper. With subsequent additions, the narrow park is now well over one kilometre long, covering more than 15 hectares. A natural creek flows through the gully, with walking trails (eg Grey Gum Walk, Angophora Trail) named after some of the native vegetation in the park. You might catch sight of a goanna sunning itself trailside, or of other wildlife hiding in the undergrowth:
To get to Cooper Park, take a train from Sydney Town Hall to Bondi Junction station, from where it’s about a ten minute walk to the park entrance at the northern end of Adelaide Street, Woollahra. Take a picnic lunch and unwind a little!
Other places include the Wolli Creek Valley walking trail (near the International Airport), the waterfront gardens of Leichhardt Street in Glebe, and Lake Gillawarna in Georges Hall near Bankstown – an important breeding ground for native birds.
So when the last car – including my taxi – disappears from our roads, Sydney could well become the perfect example of the post-automobile city!