- Species: various
- Location: Lavender Bay, North Sydney
Hidden down a small resident street inside the Lavender Bay area of North Sydney, just a hop and skip away from the city’s main downtown area, there is a special place with a remarkable story, sculpted by an incredible personality.
Like all good stories, there is tragedy, but also revelations and ultimately beauty and transcendence.
The story is about Wendy Whiteley and a piece of disused, abandoned public land opposite her house that was left untended after the railway company diverted its route and depot to a new line that crossed the Bay over the bridge.
It begins with the death of her husband, Australian artist Brett Whiteley. Grief stricken, Wendy decided to tame the lot, at the time fill with garbage and overgrown. Working day after day, she cleared the site of its weeds and trash, shaping and sculpting the land into her own little paradise. The full story is online at: http://www.wendy
The result is an astonishing oasis called Wendy’s Secret Garden. Of course, it’s no longer a secret and the garden that Wendy built is now a popular attraction for both locals and visitors. It’s a bit out of the way, but well worth the visit.
I came across the garden by chance. Because I had to visit the Kirribilli Club next to the garden for a conference, a good friend took me on a flash tour of the garden during the coffee break. I only had a few minutes, but the experience was magical.
We started at Wendy’s house, which I think is open to the public (we didn’t have to go in so only guessing). From there, we walked down the path amidst flowers, underneath a massive fig tree – not quite sure its specie, but looks like a Moreton Bay Fig to my untrained eye.
It was a beautiful garden already, but to my surprise, the path kept descending to another level, then another, until it reached a (relatively) flat area under the canopy of trees. All along the way, there were lush plants, shrubs and flowers, manicured and well cared for, yet perfectly natural.
At the bottom of the hill, there are quaint picnic tables and rustic lawn furniture, but the path goes on much longer – again, didn’t have time to find out.
We ended up taking a side path that led to additional levels, more paths, more stairs, until we came out on street level.
While the destination is no longer hard to find, the garden certainly holds many secrets among its many nooks and crannies.
I wish I had more time to explore its many pathways, take more photos and admire Wendy’s marvelous creation. It is a definite must see for next time.