They don’t call Sydney The Emerald City for nothing.
Perhaps the name should be changed to The Sapphire City, especially when stepping out on a walk from Potts Point to the Sydney Opera House on a sparkling Winter morning.
I am not a lover of big cities, apologies if that claim is now starting to sound like a broken record, but I can see Sydney’s attraction when the sunlight bounces off the sapphire water of the harbour, to light up the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Yep, it’s pretty special.
Nestled in the heart of the city is the green oases of The Domain and The Botanic Gardens. These precious open spaces provide an escape from the concrete jungle of high rise and hassle. This sense of space is expanded further where the lush green lawns roll down to meet the green/blue of the water.
I had a coffee date booked at Circular Quay and this was the perfect excuse to lace on my sneakers and step out into the early morning sunshine. There was a good mix of locals trudging to work clasping their coffee cups, and lycra-clad joggers puffing and panting, wired into their sound systems and completely oblivious to the scenery. Why you would want to block out the sights and sounds of the harbour, I do not know.
I was happy to play tourist, snapping merrily away with my camera and appreciating how the light danced on the shimmering water, the mossy rocks and the layered sandstone changing from rich cream to burnt orange. Even though I am a born-and-bred country girl, I was delighted to see a pair of kookaburras getting on with their day and on the hunt for breakfast.
The path underfoot is even and smooth, making it perfect for walkers, rollers, and strollers of any ability. There are a few steep inclines, and a couple of sets of narrow, weathered stairs, but these can be easily avoided by taking alternate paths. Pause a while to rest on a park bench, nestled in private nooks and take in the different views of the harbour, framed by the arch of low-hanging tree branches and sandstone bluffs.
The harbour itself was a hive of activity that morning. Commuters making their way to work on ferries, and every other sized ship, boat and yacht going about their daily business. Walking past the Wolloomooloo wharf, the boats looked like large dollar signs bobbing at their moorings. How much money was tied up there? Literally?
The Botanic Gardens and the Domain are more than leafy spaces edging the harbour. They are also places of art, culture and education. Each year a large scale opera is held on a floating pontoon, with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop. How spectacular would that be?
Sprinkled throughout the Gardens are sculptures, old and new. Some were installed to commemorate significant pieces of Australian history, while others simply reflect and enhance the natural sculpture created by the plants and trees.
If you wish to turn your gardening brown thumb to green, then there is a regular programme of workshops and lectures – from how to grow succulents, to the art of Ikebana, to classes on scientific botanical illustration. And you thought the Gardens were just a pretty face?
Another fantastic feature of this walk is how it showcases our early indigenous history. A number of different displays and walking tours reveal the traditional uses of the land by the Cadigal people, the local Aboriginal tribe, and their relationship with the plants and the environment prior to European settlement.
For both visitor and resident alike, I would highly recommend a stroll under the leafy Moreton Bay figs and along the sandstone-lined paths. To see Sydney at its best, follow the path that skirts the gardens, right on the edge of the harbour.
And be dazzled…
When was the last time Nature dazzled you?
What: The Botanic Gardens shop has maps of the different walking paths, gifts and wheelchairs available.
Where: The walk from Potts Point to Circular Quay, following the edge of the Harbour, takes about 45 minutes at an easy pace. Plenty of other paths are in place to shorten or extend your visit.
When: Gates open at 700am and close at sunset.
Why: To see Sydney at its very best.
How: Enter via the gates at the rear of the Opera House and simply follow the coastline, before then crisscrossing back through the Gardens.
Who: Green thumbs, tourists, nature lovers
Related Posts: For more strolls through nature, have a look at my post about exploring the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains.
Related Blogs: I am so bookmarking this blog! Too many fabulous coast walks to choose from! https://www.sydneycoastwalks.com.au/blog/
Read About It: For an enjoyable read around about this part of the world and early European settlement, have a read of Kate Grenville’s, The Lieutenant. Based on real events, she describes the establishment of an observatory on the edge of the harbour and the interaction with the local aboriginal people. Available from Book Depository.