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Chinese Garden of Friendship

Home > Sydney > Day Trips | Family | Gardens | Outdoor | Places of Interest
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I love travelling, discovering hidden gems & food. Experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass. Owner of do check it out for grazing platters and more :)
Published June 20th 2017
Imagine peace & serenity in a busy city…imagine no more…
Towering weeping willows, cascading waterfalls, lily pads in cool lagoons, colourful blossoms and rich bamboo forests ... it sounds like a world away, filled with tranquillity and magic, and far from civilisation. Well, how about if I told you that this is not a world away from civilisation, but in a city, would you believe me?

You can easily spend the day getting lost in the tranquillity of the Gardens

The Chinese Garden of Friendship sounds like a hidden secret magical piece of heaven, however, this one-hectare garden is located on the southern fringe of Darling Harbour precinct, making it an oasis in the city as well as the ideal tranquil city escape.

Upon entrance into the Gardens, you are greeted with the Lucky cat, a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

It is hard to believe that this secret garden exists in the bustling and hustling Sydney city. With features of calligraphy, carvings and sculpture, alongside mystical dragons and other mythological creatures, the garden surely does transport you from Sydney's busy city of sin into a world of tradition and calm.

The Mountain Gate & Temple offers spectacular views of most of the Garden

The Chinese Garden of Friendship officially opened in 1988 and was initially commissioned by the Guangdong Landscape Bureau in Sydney's sister city Guangzhou, China, to reflect the bond between the two cities. The garden offers a lovely insight into the Chinese heritage and culture.

There are many unique and intriguing pot plants to admire throughout the Gardens

The Garden incorporates architectural principals of the Taoist philosophy of yin (calmness) and yang (activity), balancing of opposites. The aim is to achieve the seemingly impossible by incorporating rocks which appear to defy gravity, create a vision where small spaces appear large and large spaces feel more intimate, as well as including elements that promote a sense of great age that has been transformed into youthfulness or that the young have grown old.

Check out these unique flooring patterns

The garden also captures the elements contained within the natural landscape- mountains, rivers, lakes, trees, valleys, and hills to recreate nature in miniature, and this has definitely been achieved...from the gushing sound of water from the waterfalls that then quietly flow into the quiet and peaceful lake, towering trees, jagged rocks protruding from the lake and areas of shades contrasted by area of sunlight, the combination of these elements were achieved and appeal to all of our senses.

Be sure to follow the love story with the art

Explore the gardens magic and mystery, as the garden will gradually reveal its many secrets and hidden stories… but only to those who listen carefully!

The majestic Dragon Wall was a gift from Guangdong

The Seven Stages in Bamboo Forest is a peaceful grove of black bamboo that tells a secret of a celebrated group of third-century Chinese scholars and poets. While The Rock Forest tells a magical story of 'Ashima and the Landlord' originating from an ancient Chinese poem. It is tragic, yet beautiful.

Write down your hopes and dreams and hang them to the hope & dream wall

Discover hidden treasures that are dotted across the garden, including the ancient cyad (fossil plant) and the red silk cotton tree (a floral symbol of Guangdong) as you step back in time into the quiet solitude of ancient Chinese architecture and its relationship with nature.

There traditional doorways awaiting to be discovered

Follow the winding paths, welcome the fragrances of plants and shrubs and the sounds of glistering waterfalls, and forests that each led to a different peaceful pavilion. There are ten pavilions across the picturesque garden, each having their own symbolism and purpose.

Enjoying the oasis within the city

Gaze across the lake with its sacred lotus flowers, limestone rocks and colourful koi and the surrounding spectacular weeping willows.

A piece of exotic in Darling Harbour

One of the main highlights of the garden is the Dragon Wall. The majestic Dragon Wall is a gift from Guangdong and features two Imperial dragons; the brown dragon represents Guangdong and the blue symbolising New South Wales. Together, they play with the pearl of friendship. The pool below mirrors and reflects their movements flying in the clouds above. In the Chinese culture flying dragons symbolise majesty and perfection.

Enjoy a meal at the Tea Room

The jewel of the garden is The Gurr, also known as The Pavilion of Clear View. This pavilion sits at its highest point and is decorated with lavish golden rood, intricate woodcarvings and an ornate lantern symbolising prosperity and it offers a spectacular, perfect view across the landscape.

Take a stroll though the Bamboo Forest

Other things to see and do at the Garden:

There is a Teahouse located within the garden which offers tea and refreshments in a traditional teahouse.

Look at what we spotted

Free guided tours are available, where you can experience the garden's history, significance and seasonal botanical highlights.

Witness the 'living jewels' of the magnificent koi fish being fed daily at 11:30am at the Lenient Jade Pavilion. They are known as 'living jewels' for their stunning colouring and distinctive patterns.

Discover the wonders behind the Moon Gate

The Emperor's Quest is a fun self-guided adventure for the little ones to enjoy (5-12years). There are twelve animals in the Chinese lunar calendar and they are hidden in the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Children will follow the clues as they discover where each animal is hiding.

Keep an eye out for the beautiful Koi fish

Traditional Chinese Dress-up in the Garden is a spectacular activity to enjoy, as you will be transformed into an emperor or empress, princess or prince, or a warrior from the Ming and Ching dynasties. Costumes are available for hire for the whole family.

The cascading waterfalls add to the tranquillity

The Chinese Garden of Friendship offers the perfect spot to escape the busy city as you sip tea at the Teahouse, savour the quietness and serenity with a book, lazily stroll and be cocooned from the crazy city.

It is truly the perfect spot to recharge your batteries and enjoy something special with all of the garden's natural features- koi, several bird species and species of wildlife.

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Why? An oasis in the city
When: All year round (Closed Good Friday & Christmas Day): 9:30am-5pm
Phone: (02) 9240 8888
Where: Pier St, Darling Harbour
Cost: Adults: $6pp, Children (under 12yrs): $3pp, Family of four: $15
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