I’ve always been guilty of neglecting to visit some of the typical tourist spots in my home town. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I finally visited Bondi Beach for the first time! When I started making plans to move to London I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to visit these places for much longer so I tried to tick off as many “bucket list” items as I could before leaving Sydney. One of the places I didn’t get the chance to visit was the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour so on my most recent trip back to Sydney this was high on my list of things to do.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a bit of a secret paradise in the heart of the city. Despite it’s central location it is easy to miss as it is completely surrounded by walls which gives the gardens a very private and serene feel.
Officially opened in 1988, the Chinese Garden of Friendship was designed by architects from Guangzhou (Sydney’s sister city) to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary and the name symbolises the bond established between China and Australia.
It was modelled on the typical private gardens of the Ming Dynasty and follows the Taoist principles of ‘Yin-Yang’ and the five opposite elements – earth, fire, water, metal and wood.
The gardens aren’t very big so it only takes about half an hour to see it all, but the atmosphere is so calming that it entices you to stay for longer. You’ll find benches dotted around the gardens as well as seating inside the temples where you can stop to relax. There’s also a teahouse serving Chinese tea and dim sum.
Despite the glorious weather there weren’t too many people visiting the garden. It really is easy to forget that you’re in the middle of a bustling city – the only giveaway are the skyscrapers towering overhead.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship is open all year round except for Good Friday Christmas. Opening hours are 9:30am to 5:30pm (5pm April to October). Entry to the gardens costs $6 for adults.