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Sydney Attractions: The 3 Botanic Gardens of Sydney

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Botanical gardens in Sydney.

Botanical gardens in Sydney.

3 Attractions in Sydney: Botanical Gardens

Little known even to locals, there are three main botanic gardens in Sydney, all of which are looked after by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. Most people are only aware of the Royal Botanic Garden in the heart of Sydney’s central business district, which looks out on the historic Sydney Harbour and the Opera House. However, there are two more. All three gardens are remarkable in that they are free to enter and enjoy. Of course, there are charges for special tours, but this is completely unnecessary; taking a languid wander and discovering the wonderful plants and features for yourself is half the fun.

1. The Royal Botanic Gardens—The Domain, Sydney

The Royal Botanic Garden is the best known of Sydney's botanic gardens and is wonderfully located in the heart of Sydney's central business district, and on the shore of the Sydney Harbour. It was established in 1816 - making it the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia. It is also the second oldest botanic garden in the southern hemisphere and home to many a historical structure from Colonial times.

The Royal Botanic Garden covers 30 hectares and has trees growing there which were planted as early as c. 1820. Apart from being home to thousands of plant species, the botanic gardens also provide habitat to wildlife such as the Great Cormorant and the Brush-Tailed Possum.

Find refreshment at the Botanic Gardens Restaurant which is open 7 days a week and offers open-air dining and a cafe. Meanwhile, numerous areas within the Royal Botanic Garden are available for weddings, and conferences. These include the Maiden Theatre, Sydney Tropical Centre, various garden pavilions and some allocated lawn areas.

An oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle - the Royal Botanic Garden

An oasis in the midst of a concrete jungle - the Royal Botanic Garden

Opening Hours: Open 7 days a week from 7 am until 5 pm, and often later depending upon daylight savings

Location: Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW 2000

How to Get There: Take a train to Martin Place Station and walk to the gardens from there

Entry Fee: Free

2. The Australian Botanic Garden—Mount Annan, Macarthur

The Australian Botanic Garden is the largest in Australia covering over 400 hectares. The area contains upwards of 2000 plant species and is home to a number of birds including Square-tailed Kites, Red-browed Finches and Musk Lorikeets.

Unlike the other Botanic Gardens in Sydney the Australian Botanic Garden has wide paths that allow you to get around the garden in your car or on bikes. There are attractive barbecue facilities and picnic areas in the the gardens and plenty of wide open space for kids to play.

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The Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan

The Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan

The Australian Botanic Garden in Mount Annan is particularly significant in that it holds the horticultural research facilities for the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. Among the research facilities are climate-controlled glass houses, seed storage and drying rooms and a tissue culture laboratory. Most of the research is centered around the conservation of threatened Australian plants and Australia’s biodiversity.

Opening Hours: 8 am to 7 pm (during daylight saving), 8 am to 5 pm (eastern standard time), 7 days a week except for Christmas Day

Location: Narellan Road, Mount Annan NSW 2567, Australia

How to Get There: Take a bus from Campbelltown station to the entrance to the gardens

Entry Fee: Free

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3. The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden—Mount Tomah, Bells

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is located a 2-hours drive from the Sydney CBD in the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains. Without a doubt I am biased when it comes to this location - I adore the Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens. Set along the Bells Line of Road, this is an area of the Blue Mountains that is not part of the usual tourist circuit. In fact, it is a little-known feature of the Blue Mountains to Sydney-siders and tourists alike. The introduced plants of the garden aside, its breathtaking alpine location is half the beauty of these gardens.

Looking over the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens

Looking over the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens

There are various options for spending your time with a number of self-guided tours available, as well as guided tours and mobility scooters handily available for hire for the less mobile. There is a restaurant and visitors centre as well as accommodation. The Jungle Lodge is situated on Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust land, adjacent to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. The integration of accommodation into the experience of the botanic garden is a unique feature at Mount Tomah and not present at the other Botanic Gardens in Sydney. This makes it particularly suited to those who chose the picturesque location as a wedding venue or function location.

Opening Hours: 9 am - 5.30 pm Monday - Friday, 9.30 am - 5.30 pm Weekends and Public Holidays - except for Christmas Day

Location: Bells Line of Road, NSW 2758, Australia

How to Get There: Drive directly to the gardens

Entry Fee: Free

Sydney's Botanic Gardens—A Place to See The Wollemi Pine

Sydney's Botanic Gardens not only provide wonderful recreation areas, but fulfill important roles in terms of conservation and research into Australian flora. One such example of the important role played by the Botanic Gardens is the work they have done with the Wollemi Pine.

The Wollemi Pine is one of the oldest and rarest plants in the world. There are said to be less than 100 naturally growing Wollemi Pines in the wild and access is not permitted to the public. These rare pines were discovered around 200 km from Sydney in 1994 and since their discovery, much effort was made to propagate the Wollemi Pines to increase their numbers. Fortunately, due in part to the work carried out at the gardens, young artificially grown pines can be viewed in all of Sydney's Botanic Gardens.

Wollemi Pines outside the Visitors Centre, Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens, Blue Mountains.

Wollemi Pines outside the Visitors Centre, Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens, Blue Mountains.

Representing a City

The beauty of these 3 gardens is that they each show a completely different side of Sydney. Each garden has a different feel - the cityscape of the Royal Botanic Garden with the city, and some of Australia's biggest iconic features in the background. Then the rural, drier feel of the Mount Annan gardens - more of an Australian bush atmosphere than is possible to achieve in the City. And you can't consider Sydney without getting a feel for the Blue Mountains - and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden represents them fantastically.

If you are ever in Sydney, consider visiting one of the 3 Botanic Gardens - especially those outside of the city. Get off the well-trodden tourist trail and see an even more beautiful side of Sydney.

© 2015 Rota

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