Parks and recreation in Sydney

Monday, June 25, 2012

I had a spare weekday to kill after my trip to Cairns and Gold Coast, so I set out to further explore Sydney.

First thing on my agenda was the MCA, or Museum of Contemporary Art. This is conveniently located in/at Circular Quay, a.k.a. Tourist Central, so I had no problem finding it. Another bonus: it’s free. Which, ultimately, translates into a weak time killer. I was done with the museum in about 45 minutes, but it’s definitely worth a visit (especially since it’s free).

I actually didn't realize what this was until I stepped back to take the photograph ...

Afterwards, I walked around The Rocks (which I guess is what the locals call the area/shops in Circular Quay). There was some sort of gourmand market going on that day, and I noticed the abundance of Lindt cafes, but I did not peruse them.

Having yet more time to kill before meeting my friend for dinner, I went revisited the Sydney Opera House. I still can’t get over how stunning it is … I mean, not really architecturally, but how incredible it is to have a harbor like that in the “middle” of the city, and to have this odd looking structure floating in the middle of it, and how beautiful it looks from every angle, at any time of day.

You can see the climbers about halfway up the bridge (the little dots!)

Luna Park across the water

Every. Angle.

The first time I visited the Opera House, it was night time, so I was pleased to be able to see it in the afternoon. I walked along the harbor, all the way to Dawes Point Park, just under the Harbour Bridge. Dawes Point Park is basically a grassy knoll with a few park benches on it, seemingly forgotten. A couple left while I was there, but otherwise, I had the entire “park” to myself. This hill overlooks the harbor, and for a while, I thought it was the best park in the world and Sydney was thoughtful to have carved out such a quiet, contemplative place for its residents. I could see Luna Park across the water, and I could see the brave climbers conquer the Harbour Bridge.

But that’s before I realized I had enough time to pay the Royal Botanic Garden a visit. Oh my.

THIS is the best park in the world.

Now I love my city parks, but I don’t think I’ve seen ALL that many in my day. Other parks that stand out in my memory are the Jardin de Tuileries in Paris, the Park Guell in Barcelona and Museum Quarter in Vienna. (My memory is beginning to fail me.) And of course I really liked the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens in Tokyo. But this one takes the cake.

Maybe I’m a little biased, but this park is amazing. It’s huge, split up into at least two sections (I haven’t seen it all yet), and it’s got different types of gardens, just like Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens. On top of that, a big portion of the park runs along the harbor, which is just excellent.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Fall in Sydney


I sat down in this elevated garden (the section had gradient levels with park benches on it, like some of the beaches in Australia … more on that in another post), which overlooked the harbor. Beside me were little seedlings housed in little protective mesh houses, which for some reason touched me greatly. Sydney’s parks (and most, if not all, of Australia’s, I’ve found) invite visitors to walk and lie and picnic on its grass, so unlike New York City and much of the United States. I was just so overcome with … something that I nearly teared up there. Since it was Friday evening, a party boat came through and I could hear revelers cheering on its decks, at 3:30pm in the afternoon. That’s the life, isn’t it? Oh, Australia.

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