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Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden

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by Cassandra (subscribe)
Freelance journalist writing about nature, different people & places - currently rediscovering travel through my children's eyes.
Published August 27th 2010
Hidden away on the edge of suburbia, there's a place where you can lose yourself in the serenity of nature for the day just 18 kilometres north of Sydney's CBD.

Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden at St Ives features 123 hectares of bushland, gullies, ponds and waterfalls, with the chance to spot wallabies and native birds like the White-faced Honeyeater, the Eastern Whipbird and Red Wattlebird.

Dipping into this secluded 'urban bushland' haven, you can rejuvenate the senses and let the kids let off some steam, before plunging back into the hectic whirl of weekday life.

Wedged between Sydney's North Shore and the Northern Beaches, the park is low-key and non-commercial, with no crowds or kiosks that means, nothing that your children will pester you to buy. And it is absolutely free to visit if you're coming by car. If you have hired a bus or minibus, a charge applies.

Parking is available on-site or on Richmond Avenue. Public buses 195, 196 and 197 leave from Gordon train station, with bus stops a short walk from the Garden.

It is home to a myriad of bushwalks, some pram and wheelchair-friendly, which take anything from the 10 minute Banks Track to the more challenging two hour Mueller track.

You can walk from the car park, straight onto a boardwalk which meanders around a pond and start spotting frogs. Or maybe you would prefer to take an easy fifteen minute trek straight to one of the open air or undercover picnic spots, such as Lambert's Clearing which has electric BBQs, decent toilets and a children's playground.

There is also a Fern house for nature-lovers, where children can learn about plant life or just flitter through pretending to be elves and fairies, like the children with us did.

You can also make bookings for Bush Kids birthday parties or school holiday programs and there are bushwalking and gardening activities for Seniors and English as a Second Language groups.

Look out for the Festival of Wildflowers on August the 29th, with guided walks and talks, organic gardening and native plant displays.
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Why? To escape the rat race for the day
When: Open every day from 8am until 4pm, except Christmas Day and Good Friday
Where: 420 Mona Vale Road, St Ives
Cost: Free for cars, charges apply for mini-buses and coaches
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