A swan gently dipped its head to have a drink from the turquoise water while a goose slept beside it – this has the making of a fairy tale.

One view of the lake in the Japanese Garden

The Auburn Botanical Gardens were opened in September 1977.  How have I missed the existence of this place?

According to the Auburn City Council’s website, The original concept & design of the Auburn Botanic Gardens is credited to Council’s Engineer & Town Planner Mr Eric Black.”  Well, Mr Eric Black was a man of incredible vision & I am so glad that the Council followed through & created Auburn Botanic Gardens because they are stunning.

Early last September we attended the Cherry Festival at the Gardens. Oh my goodness this is a wonderful place. You know when you have arrived because of the very tall trees.  Not one or three or even ten trees, but a small forest & highly visible from the street.

Traditional red bridges took us over waterfalls that fed the lake in the Japanse Garden

Flowering Camellias surrounded by a carpet of red petals made for a lovely entrance.  Entry was free for residents & $4 for the rest of us.  It was worth much more in my opinion.

We decided to follow the crowd who took us through the Moon Gate & into the Japanese Garden where we walked through an avenue of flowering pink Cherry trees.  These were lovely & what most people came to see.  Suddenly the path opened out into a postcard view – a large lake with a white swan sitting on a pretty rock surrounded by turquoise-coloured water & all this surrounded by a variety of cascading trees & flowering shrubs & hedges.

It was a shock.  Neither of us has seen anything like this, except for maybe the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour, which apart from some elements, look entirely different.  The sitting swan made regular graceful movements stretching its neck to drink from the water.  For the first couple of minutes I believed this to be a robotic swan.  My surprise was great when I moved closer & saw that it was real. It was such a perfect scene.  I must have taken 100 photos of that swan.

Everywhere I looked was picturesque.

We did as everyone else was doing & walked around the pond stopping frequently to take in the incredible views.  I am not kidding when I say that every view could have been a postcard.

In amongst beautiful plants were smaller paths & tastefully displayed large rocks.  There were a number of man-made waterfalls adding coolness & negative ions into the air, plus the lovely sound of water falling.  By this time I was starting to feel overwhelmed.  I could have been in Japan.  Many of the visitors were of Asian origin helping to complete the illusion that I had left Australia.

The pathway took us over red bridges & past a traditional tea-house.  There were moss gardens, which were very popular, & a Zen pebble garden.  Trees were mass planted in groups or as a spectacular feature & there were lots of Azaleas.  Nothing about this garden was accidental & it was incredibly beautiful.

The only thing that I found a little disconcerting was the turquoise water.  However, I thought this was created to appeal to visitors from Asia.  It didn’t look bad at all, just very different.  The fish didn’t seem to mind, nor did the waterbirds who being wild birds, could have left anytime they wanted.

You could easily spend a couple of hours in the Japanese Garden, but as there were other gardens, we moved on walking where our eyes lead us.  Next was the billabong, which we could hear well before we arrived.  We walked up a small hill & looked down on another incredible scene – a large billabong with an island filled with Melaluca trees, surrounded by turquoise water & birds galore.  There were great big fat white geese, ducks of all kinds & four happy Ibis.  The honking of the ducks & geese was wonderful.  Again, this was a photographer’s paradise, as it too was postcard perfect.

Another perfect view in the Japanese Garden

The billabong was quite large & many families were sitting on picnic blankets watching the nature show.  It was nice to see natural banks with no concrete anywhere.

After a while we wandered on & found ourselves in the Australian Native & Rainforest Garden, which is attached to the Billabong.  Duck River flows through the rainforest downhill until it reaches the billabong.  The banks here were also in a natural state. No concrete at all.

It was in the rainforest that I felt most at home. There were trees everywhere & tall trees too.  Being a botanical garden, there were all kinds of trees from palms, to Eucalypts & Bunya Pines & many more.  Many were labeled allowing you to learn about them.  Trees were planted close together, but not in lines.  Fallen branches lay where they fell & any dead tree remained, creating a new level of habitat for wildlife.

You could take the safe concrete path or a number of dirt paths that meandered through the rainforest.  This section encouraged you to experience the natural forest with dirt, rocks & leaves under your feet & needing to watch where you were going.  It was well worth it because this is where lots of animals & birds were.

The first bird on the ground that we saw was a very busy Brush Turkey scraping leaves into a pile.  Neither of us had seen one of these before.   Then came a pedigree rooster who was very shy, peeking at us from behind lower branches before starting to crow as though his life depended on it.

I found the rainforest to be incredibly beautiful.

The trees had both lower & side branches. Side branches were very important for the resident Peacocks when they decided to sit in the trees.  We found a harem of Peahens with one Peacock, resting in long grass in the rainforest away from people.  They watched us as we watched them.

All kinds of native Australian birds were in the rainforest as well as the rest of the Botanical Gardens.  The gardens obviously provided great habitat & it was lovely to hear so many different species, even if we could not see them.  Next time I’m taking binoculars.

Leaving the rainforest we walked through Remembrance Avenue, lined with massive trees.  A crowd had gathered here to see a magnificent Peacock that had flown up into a tree. He did look wonderful.

We passed the barbeque/picnic area that was full to bursting with families. This area was fenced off from the rest of the gardens.  These days, thinking of picnics & barbeques makes me think of litter, so it was very nice to see that there was zero litter anywhere in the Gardens.

Council staff were a visible, but helpful presence.  They controlled the behaviour of the crowd when necessary, usually when people were walking on signed areas that requested people not to walk there.  I was amused to see a couple of signs that read, “Do not shake the trees.”  Why would you do that?  Perhaps to make a Peacock fall?

I spoke to a couple of staff members & they were extremely pleasant, helpful & informative.  It was obvious that they were very proud of the Gardens & loved their job.

The Auburn Botanical Gardens is not easy to see in one visit because it is so large & because it is a place where you like to linger, observe, read & experience.  We did not see all the sections, but didn’t mind, as we will definitely be visiting again.  This is a great place to take visitors to Sydney.

Across from the main entrance is a very good bird aviary open free to the public. There is also an art gallery that had workshops & talks on earlier that day as part of the Cherry Festival.

So some facts about the Auburn Botanical Gardens –

  • They are located on the Corner of Chisholm & Chiswick Roads Auburn on 9.7 hectares (24 acres).
  • The Auburn Botanical Gardens are an initiative of Auburn City Council, managed by the Council & paid for by the ratepayers.
  • Entry is free to residents of Auburn LGA. For the rest of us entry is free, except for weekends, public holidays & festivals.  For these times we pay $4 per person.  You couldn’t grudge a $4 entry free because it is terrific value for money. Besides, your entry fee goes straight back into the care of the Gardens.
  • There are a number of different gardens – the Japanese Garden, The Rose Garden, the Scented Garden, the Australian Native & Rainforest Garden, the Billabong & the Fauna Reserve. There is also a long reflection pond, a wedding pavilion, The Garden of Trees & an amphitheatre, plus plenty of areas full of trees.  This is not a place of lawns, though there are some.
  • There is plenty of free parking.  If you park illegally or on the grass, Council staff will issue you with a fine. [Brilliant]
  • No food or alcohol is permitted in the Gardens.
  • Opening hours in daylight savings is 9am-6pm & during non-daylight savings 9am-5pm.
  • All areas of the garden are wheelchair accessible.
  • There is an equal access playground that includes a Liberty Swing, which is purpose built to allow children in a wheelchair to have a safe swing.

We thought the Auburn Botanical Gardens was a Sydney jewel, possibly an unrecognized one.  It is extremely beautiful & well looked after.  Incredibly, not many people go on weekdays, so if you are seeking peace, this would be the time to go.  Despite the large crowds who attended the Cherry Festival, it was still great & we found quiet places where few people wandered.  There is something for everyone here.  If I were to rate it I’d give the Auburn Botanical Gardens 12/10.  They are that good.

You can find more information at Auburn City Council’s website here – http://bit.ly/PTsPMH

This tree grew in the middle of the lake in the Japanese Garden

The Billabong with an island full of Melaleuca trees offered more beauty.

Duck River meandered through the rainforest.

Tall trees were everywhere offering real habitat for urban wildlife. I’ve often wondered why sections of some of our bigger parks couldn’t have areas of habitat like this.