It was picture perfect weather in Sydney today so what a better way to spend the day than being immersed in nature. After a quick google search in the morning I decided to head to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney city, rather than make the trek out to the Blue Mountains. It is closer and would provide a similar experience to the one I was after – immersion in nature. Again, I always seek out a tour guide to provide a more enriching experience and I wasn’t disappointed.
The @RBGS (Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney) run two free guided tours each day at 10:30 am and 2:00pm. The guides are volunteers, approachable and extremely passionate about horticulture. Our guide rattled off Latin names as they pointed out key features of the gardens and explained a little about the history. The original purpose of the gardens was to house the Macquarie’s. Lachlan Macquarie was the first governor of Sydney and there are still many landmarks, streets and suburbs named after them peppered around Sydney. Lachlan and Elizabeth reclaimed a lot of land and build their house and a wall (which still stands) to keep the locals out.
Over time the gardens expanded and has become a place for all walks of life to enjoy. This botanical gardens were originally founded for commercial reasons. Botanists were sent off to locate exotic species from outside the Sydney region, bring them back to see if they could grow and then sell them off. Exporting Australian natives became a profitable trade.
Today, the gardens still sell plants, but really focus their efforts on two things. Conserving Australian flora and providing a beautiful location where tourists can wander and corporate office workers enjoy a lunchtime run. Complete with non-stinging bees and male/female palm species it’s a great place to learn about how Australian Aboriginals ‘used plants for medicine and tools. For example, infants were wrapped in the bark from a Paperback trees as it was sterile and kept them warm and cosy.
If you have 1.5hrs and want to learn about Australian fauna and a little bit of Australian history – this is the place to head. It boarders the city and is walkable from the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge – actually that is a great way to start the day. Breakfast in the Rocks, a morning tour of the gardens and then a relaxing lunch at one of the city’s bustling cafes or restaurants. This is a good way to see how the locals lunch. And if you want to mix with the locals and have a bit of Mexican I recommend lunch and a nice drink at Barrio Cellar – a hipster basement bar. You can see on gmaps the locations marked out here.
We often overlook what is already in our backyard – thinking we have to travel out of the city to really immerse and connect with nature. But often, its right at our doorstep. If you want to try before you head to the @rbgs – check out the videos I did here to see it before you head on over. The gift shop @rbgs is amazing and most items are reasonably priced. If you are looking for that special gift they have beautiful scarfs with yellow Bottle Brush printed on grey background or the fiery red of the Waratah. You will feel rejuvenated and ready for your next Sydney adventure. And having a good tour guide makes this effortless!