Parks, Gardens and Reserves

Royal Botanical Gardens

Encircling Farm Cove, which is the bay immediately to the west of Sydney Cove and Circular Quay, the Royal Botanical Gardens is a short walk from the city centre, Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House. Featuring numerous themed gardens, grassed areas,gently sloping paths and public art, the Gardens are a peaceful haven from the hustle and bustle of the traffic and noise of the city, that is just a block away.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park, in the centre of Sydney, is part of a much larger tract of land commencing with the Royal Botanical Gardens and Farm Cove to the north and stretching to the south east to Moore Park which Sydney's first Governor, Arthur Phillip, set aside as a common for permanent public use in 1792. It was named Hyde Park after London's Hyde Park by Gov. Macquarie in 1810.

Chinese Garden of Friendship

A Bicentennial gift from the people of Guandong Province, China, its classic design incorporates beautiful pavilions, winding pathways, lakes and ponds. The garden was designed and built by Chinese landscape architects and gardeners. Similar to every classical Chinese garden, traditional principles govern the use of four key elements of water, plants, stone and architecture.

EG Waterhouse Camelia Gardens

Gardens overlooking Yowie Bay and featuring camellias, ferns and azaleas in a natural bush setting. It features a large collection of Camellias and Azaleas, with many rare and unusual species. There is nearly eight acres to explore, good parking available and the gardens bloom Four Seasons with many and varied flowers and plants.

Auburn Botanical Gardens

A delightful oasis in the western suburbs, Auburn Botanical Gardens comprises of 12 distinct landscaped areas on the banks of Duck River. The gardens feature an Avenue of Remembrance, an Australian native garden, an open air theatre, a Japanese garden which has become very popular as a wedding venue, and a walk-through aviary built to celebrate Australia's Bicentenary.

Carss Bush Park

Located on the shores of Kogarah Bay in Sydney's south, which is the last bay along the Georges River before it enters Botany Bay. A popular picnic spot among locals, particularly families, Carss Park derives its name from a pioneering family who settled here in the 19th century. Carss Park derives its name from a pioneering family who settled here in the 19th century. The Carss family cottage is home to a museum which documents local history.

Centennial Park

This park in Sydney's eastern suburbs was created in 1888 from sandhills and marshlands as a major government project to mark the centenary of Sydney. It was formed by draining the swamps and channelling the water into a series of lakes which were to be surrounded by open parkland. The park has many paths and recreational areas withijn its boundaries.

Barrenjoey Headland

Part of the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, Barrenjoey Head is a craggy headland located at the northern end of Palm Beach which offers those who make the climb to its to peak 360 degree panoramic views across Pittwater, Broken Bay and the Pacific Ocean as well as the beachside suburbs to the south. The heritage listed lighthouse was built in 1868.

Moore Park

Part of a much larger tract of land commencing with Hyde Park, the Royal Botanical Gardens and Farm Cove which Sydney's first Governor, Arthur Phillip, set aside as a common for permanent public use in 1792. Today, Moore Park is home to the Sydney Football Stadium, the Sydney Cricket Ground and former Sydney Showgrounds (now Fox Studios). Sydney's first zoo was established here in 1879.

Cooper Park

A 15 hectare reserve which comprises of picnic, recreation and sporting facilities below one of the largest remaining areas of natural bushland in the Eastern Suburbs. The creek running though the Park flows over waterfalls and cascades. The hillsides support a wide variety of native trees and shrubs. The creek and the upper valley's tree ferns and forest environment create a feeling of tranquillity in this natural oasis.

Gaiarine Gardens

The gardens were created to recognise the City of Botany Bay's sister city relationship with Gaiarine, Italy. The walls at the threshold to the gardens feature metalwork, mosaics and a drinking fountain. The mosaic at the entrance to the gardens depicts both a Banksia and an Olive tree branch intertwined, symbolising the friendship between Botany and Gaiarine.

Sir Joseph Banks Park

A $1.2 million Bicentennial gift to the people of the City of Botany Bay, the gardens were styled on old photographs and engravings of the original zoological and botanical gardens which existed here in the early 1800s. These famous pleasure grounds by Botany Bay were the main attraction of the old Sir Joseph Banks Hotel in its heyday in the 19th Century.

Nielsen Park

A well used family recreational area in Sydney's eastern suburbs which, in 1975, became one of the first inclusions in the Sydney Harbour National Park. The rocky headlands on either side of the beach have historic significance. Shark or Steel Point to the east contains the remains of a 140 year old gun emplacement which it was part of Sydney's defence strategy. Vaucluse Point contains the remnants of Aboriginal rock art.

Parsley Bay

It is perhaps a blessing that Parsley Bay is overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Watsons Bay, as this picturesque corner of Sydney Harbour is quiet haven for those lucky enough to know of its existence and discovered its tranquillity. Horler Avenue, Vaucluse. Facilities: toilets, barbecues, picnic tables, grassed area, kiosk (limited opening times).

Central Gardens, Merrylands

Formerly the abandoned quarry of a tile and pottery works on Finlayson Creek, this area was marked on early maps as Sherwood Scrubs Drain. In the 1970s it was transformed into an urban parkland. The old creek bed, shale walls and remnants of natural vegetation have survived and around them have been constructed an open play area, Amphitheatre, wildlife sanctuary and a series of lakes with waterfalls, rapids and boardwalks.

Nurragingy Reserve

A Bicentennial project of the Blacktown Council, this park has both natural bushland and landscaped gardens on the bank of Eastern Creek. The various sections are interconnected by walking paths. A lake, a wharf, reception centre, waterfalls and rapids create a pleasant landscaped environment for relaxation. Access to the Reserve is from Knox Road, Doonside.

Parr State Conservation Area

Rugged and little-known area of steep gorges, cliffs and rock outcrops. Discovery walks, talks and tours (including 4 WD) are conducted throughout the park, and at Pierces Valley Environmental Education Area. Walk-in camping area at Heartbreak Hill. Location: 80 km north-west of Sydney. Access the area via Webbs Creek Ferry or Colo Heights.

Bicentennial Park

For years Homebush Bay has been an industrial wasteland avoided by locals looking for a place to relax. The whole area was rejuvenated as the main site of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Part of the extensive Sydney Olympic Park Millennium Parklands, it features lawns, ponds and recreational facilities alongside a tract of natural vegetation and a number of boardwalks through a natural stand of mangroves.

Parramatta Park

This 'open-air museum' in the heart of metropolitan Sydney was part of the Governor's Domain, established in 1788. It is important for both Aboriginal and European cultural heritage, and has long been an integral part of western Sydney life. Visitors can enjoy picnicking, strolling in the grounds, visiting the historic buildings or playing sports. Parramatta River flows through the park, providing a tranquil break from the nearby hubbub.

Ku-Ring-Gai Wildflower Gardens

125 ha of natural bushland featuring displays of native plants from all over Australia. Includes eleven walks. Location: Mona Vale Road, St Ives. Open daily 10.00 am - 4.00 pm. Phone (02) 9440 8609. Facilities: picnic and barbecue facilities, playground, light refreshments.

Dharawal State Rec. Area

This reserve of natural bushland is bounded by Lake Cataract, Lake Woronora, Appin and Holsworthy. Dharawal shelters threatened plants and animals in the Sydney sandstone region and has important Aboriginal sites. Location: 45 km south-west of Sydney CBD, access is from Darkes Forest Road off the Princes Highway or the Bulli-Appin Road. Ph 02 4268 4089.

Looking Glass Bay

This tiny bay on the Parramatta River is a great spot to relax and take in a little of Sydney's colonial history. Classified as a bird sanctuary, the open bushland areas of Looking Glass Bay Park offer views to Parramatta and beyond from a sandstone lookout with directional wheel. Nearby Bedlam Bay was chosen in the 1820s as the place where The Great North Road - which linked Sydney to the Hunter Valley - would cross the Parramatta River.

Thirlmere Lakes

Relax beside one of five reed-fringed freshwater lakes, abundant with waterbirds and surrounded by quiet patches of forest beyond Sydney's south-western suburbs. The lakes are among the last undisturbed systems near Sydney, and have enormous scientific value. Forming part of the Warragamba catchment area, they are sensitive to pollution, camping is not permitted.

Mirambeena Regional Park

A large reserve comprising of five sections on the banks of the Georges River, catering for a variety of outdoor leisure activities, from model boating to sport and bushwalking. It was here that explorers Matthew Flinders and George Bass camped during their voyage of exploration up the Georges River in the early days of Sydney. Their visit is remembered in the name Flinders Slopes, one of the five sections.

Western Sydney Parklands

Located at Horsley Park, there are numerous barbecues and picnic areas. The Olympic Equestrian Centre and Fairfield City Farm are located within Western Sydney Parklands. The Sugarloaf Ridge Picnic Area can be accessed from Saxony Road. Pimelea Picnic Area, which includes barbecues, picnic tables, shelters and toilets, can be accessed from Cowpasture Road, Horsley Park.

Rouse Hill Regional Park

This park in Sydney's north-west contains 42 hectares of land surrounding historic Rouse Hill House, built between 1813 and 1818. Have a picnic or barbecue, and enjoy a bush walk. The park contains cycling, walking and rollerblading tracks. Location: Worcester Road, Rouse Hill. Follow the brown signs from Windsor Road at Rouse Hill. Metropolitan Regional Parks, 02 9895 7440.

Lake Parramatta

A little out of town, Lake Parramatta is a popular picnic, swimming and fishing hole with families and nature lovers in the area. The fomer water supply for the City of Parramatta offers three well-signed walks, of varying length and difficulty, though none of the walks are very challenging. Dogs are welcome on a leash and there are picnic tables, barbecues and toilets near the main car park, where the three walks start.

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