I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published August 11th 2013
Hornsby calls itself the Bushland Shire, and with good reason. Its suburbs unravel in different directions like fingers groping at the surrounding national parks. Such a layout makes for some very hidden gardens, tucked away off back streets in areas many people may never come across of their own accord.
A lot of these hidden spaces are nothing more than playgrounds and sporting fields, but there are also some that I think are a little bit more special. Below is a list of the top three I've discovered, focusing on the suburb of Hornsby itself.
1. Lisgar Gardens
When you're talking about secret places, none can top Lisgar Gardens. It's actually known as the 'secret garden' and indeed took me many years to discover. However it's actually quite close to the heart of Hornsby, being less than a kilometre from the station and CBD. The six acres that make up the garden can be found at the end of Lisgar Road.
Tiers zigzag down the side of a hill here, with paths weaving through the space like the tangled vines on surrounding trees. Up the top, the area is more done-up, with lawns, gazebos, waterfalls and tended gardens, while down the bottom everything has been left in a much more natural state. One of the main attractions, however, is the 72 species of camellias planted by Dr Max Cotton, who established the garden when he came to Hornsby in the early 1900's.
Open hours Monday to Friday: 8.00am till 3.30pm Saturday and Sunday: 10.00am till 4.00pm (5.00pm during daylight saving time)
One of the tended areas near the top of the garden
2. Edgeworth David Garden Located just as close to the centre of Hornsby, Edgeworth David Garden could almost be described as hiding in plain sight. It runs parallel to Sherbrook Road and many people would drive past it every day. Yet at first glance it looks like little more than a stretch of bush that has somehow escaped being cleared or developed.
Head down into the garden though, and you'll be surprised what you find. It''s got the same mix of natural and cultivated areas that Lisgar enjoys, but without the beauty. Instead, it offers a historic significance, once being the property of Edgeworth David (his house can be found at the back of the space and is now a private residence. He was a geologist, war veteran and, perhaps most notably, led the first expedition to the south magnetic pole as part of Ernest Shackleton's larger Nimrod Expedition.
Edgeworth David Garden is open every day.
A place to relax
The garden opens out completely up the back
3. Crosslands Reserve Crosslands Reserve probably shouldn't be on this list. It's not exactly hidden, or a garden, or even really in Hornsby (but rather in Hornsby Heights, at the end of Somerville Road). However, I had to give it a mention on this list because it is very out-of-the-way and if people don't know about it already, I think they should definitely pay it a visit.
Part of Berowra Valley National Park, Crosslands has everything. There's open spaces and barbeque facilities for picnics, bushwalks and a river for the more outdoorsy people out there, and a serene, peaceful setting (though it can be marred a bit by the amount of people who visit) where you can glimpse all kinds of local wildlife.
Open hours Monday to Sunday: 8.00am till 5.30pm (7.30pm during daylight saving time)
Crosslands is a great place for a picnic, or even camping
Or you can take a walk by the water
These are my top three hidden spaces in Hornsby, but I'm sure there are more I'm yet to discover. What others do you know about, perhaps throughout the rest of the Shire?
Lisgar Gardens was my secret garden that I discovered over 30 years ago. Such peace and serenity. So good to hear that it is still open. It was truly a secret garden when I discovered it. There was no pavilion and it was much cosier and private.
Hi Vanessa, another hidden garden in Hornsby is Fagan Park. Also known as the park of many nations with Australian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, English, American, to name a few different garden settings, a Lake and bush walks it's a beautiful place where many weddings also take place. Hornsby Shire Council will have their Bushland Shire Festival there on Sunday 15th September with well over 100 stalls booked so far. Glynis