Looking to explore some of the best secret gardens in Sydney or looking for free things to do in Sydney? We’ve all heard about the Chinese Gardens in Sydney, or the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, but what about some of the lesser known gardens? Here’s some of our personal favourite hidden places in Sydney you need to know about which are all free to visit!
We all know the main tourist attractions in Sydney involve the beach and Sydney Harbour, but what if you’re looking to do a bit of exploring around the city? Are there any hidden, local gems worth finding? The answer is YES.
Two of my favourite secret gardens, have amazing views of the harbour and you’ll be in awe of how they even exist, right in the middle of the city.
My other two favourite secret gardens are just magical and secluded. Here are the best secret gardens in Sydney which surprisingly all sit in the North Shore!
1. Wendy’s Secret Garden In Sydney, Lavender Bay
The view at Wendy’s Secret Garden, Lavender Bay
Wendy’s Secret Garden in Sydney is probably the most well known of the gardens in Sydney mentioned in this post.
Situated next to the famous Luna Park in Lavender Bay, you’ll just need to walk up a few steps to find the most stunning garden. If you’re driving you can park your car on Lavender Street, walk over to Clark Park and down the steps into Wendy’s.
Although Wendy had no idea about gardening in the beginning, she built this incredible space in front of her home in memory of her late husband, artist Brett Whitley. You can actually go and visit the Brett Whitley Studio in Surry Hills from Thursdays to Sundays too.
Expect Wendy’s Garden to include sculptures, various paths, picnic tables and a cracking view of Sydney Harbour, you’ll feel like you’ve found an incredible gem right in the middle of the city.
If you have kids, they will love all the paths as it’s a great hide and seek place! This is also a fantastic wedding proposal place in Sydney and a wedding venue. I saw someone propose when I first went there, and advised a friend to do so too, which he did!
2. Lex and Ruby’s Garden In Cremorne Reserve
Up next is the amazing lesser known Lex & Ruby’s Garden in Cremorne. Just beyond the walking path sits a magical garden which Lex Grahame started in 1959 after finding an elephant’s ear bulb he fished out from his morning swim.
Lex had never planted anything before, and after he saw it growing, he and his partner Ruby began adding other plants to what was previously land filled with weeds, rubbish and logs. They went on to fill the 2 acres of the garden over the duration of 50 years.
I had walked past this garden hundreds of times and never realised it existed until recently. It really is incredible and you’ll be amazed how big it actually is. The path runs along right next to the water and also underneath a cliff. I’d recommend wearing trainers as there’s a few steps.
It’s a great place to explore with the family, friends or with a special someone! It’s also the most tropical of the four gardens I’ve been to as well.
After you’ve finished exploring the garden, you should pop on down around the other side of Cremorne Reserve which has the amazing view of Sydney Harbour and a beautiful little pool called Macullum Pool. I used to go to this pool all the time. It’s mainly used by locals but it’s FREE and anyone can go for a dip.
McCallum Pool, Cremorne
You can easily get to this garden by taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Cremorne Point. Head up to the top of Cremorne Reserve (above the ferry wharf) and turn left onto the path. About 200 metres along the path you’ll find a small sign dedicated to the entrance of this garden on the waters edge. If you pass Cremorne ferry wharf, you’ve gone too far.
3. Lisgar Gardens In Hornsby
The furthest garden away from the city is Lisgar Gardens in Hornsby. At the end of a residential street lies this popular secret garden with it’s own car park. Unlike the others, this garden has it’s own waterfall to admire as well as a few paths to explore.
There’s also a beautifully cut lawn to play family games on and a gazebo to hold get together’s which make this a great place to spend the day.
4. Swain Gardens In Killara (near Chatswood)
Ending with my favourite garden is the magical Swain Gardens. After a lot of research to make this post, I came across Swain Gardens located at the end of a residential street near Chatswood in Killara.
Over 70 years ago, Mick Swain transformed the back of his house from bushland into this incredible garden. It’s now looked after the local council who maintain his magnificent work. This is also the biggest of the four gardens in this post.
When you make your way down to the gardens, you’re embraced with amazingly huge bamboo sticks growing in the bush. Walk on and you’ll come to a gardeners dream.
This place was pretty much empty when I visited it, and it is breathtaking. There’s toilets, picnic benches and a gazebo to have a family picnic here.This is my absolute gem of a secret garden in Sydney.
Don’t forget to watch our video at the best secret gardens in Sydney!
If you’re looking for more gardens to visit near Sydney, check out the below post about Floriade Festival. Although its based in Canberra, we mention loads of gardens to visit along the way near Sydney.