A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Published May 2nd 2020
The Hawkesbury Campus of Western Sydney Uni is not your ordinary campus. At the far end, it is more like a farm with open pastures, a horse stud and the beautiful new secret garden with its retail nursery, to which I went for a visit.
Upon arrival, your sense of smell is immediately greeted with the perfumed scents of various flowers enticing you into the gates of plant heaven. There's an abundance of colourful plants, from daisies to salvias and bromeliads, as well as cacti, succulents and shrubs.
This is a wonderful place to buy pots and plants for your garden, vegetables and herbs for cooking, and handmade gifts. Wandering around, you'll find many sandy paths leading you to surprises. Sculptures abound as do bird boxes and quirky settings, including a Mexican with guitars and plants positioned as if they are growing out of them. Perhaps they are but, one thing is for sure, there is plenty of inspiration for you here to transform your own garden.
The secret garden is many things. It's a community garden and a therapy garden. Anyone wanting to volunteer their time planting is welcome to, whether you have a special skill or a can-do attitude. If you're 15 or 95 and can give one hour or one week of your time, you will be contributing value and meeting new friends.
The garden is also a place to rest (with many bench seats scattered throughout) and admire the beauty, a place for weddings and a place for kids to learn and discover. Young children will especially enjoy the castle playground out the back, the farmyard of chickens, ducks, guinea pigs and cute new addition, Cocoa the goat. For students, there are horticultural and animal therapy programs, as well as work experience.
The vision of the garden is to bring sustainability to life and, in doing so, uses repurposed materials, permaculture practices and old fashioned thriftiness to create lovely landscapes and delicious produce. Staff happily take donations of garden tools, building and landscaping materials, and decorative garden items that can be used to create interesting features.
Throughout the year, various events take place here too. At Easter time there's an egg hunt, whilst in June the garden plays host to a 2-day music festival and in October there's a scarecrow festival. Art and Christmas are also celebrated.
You can picnic in the garden or enjoy a bite to eat in the cafe at this rambling garden where entry is free. When you shop at the nursery, you'll be getting quality plants at competitive prices whilst supporting a not-for-profit mission that cares for the people in the community.
Opening hours are 9am-5pm, Mon-Sat. During the current Coronavirus pandemic, the hours have been reduced to 10am-3pm. The cafe is closed at the moment but will re-open once government restrictions are lifted.
There are a couple of entrance gates to the university campus. The first one is on the corner of Bourke St and College Drv, however, I found the entrance from Londonderry Rd into Vines Drv an easier route. Halfway along Vines Drv on the left is a map of the buildings with each one numbered. You can pull over here and look at it from within your car to get your bearings.
Basically, head to the end of Vines Drv and continue straight onto Clydesdale Lne and then on your right, you'll see a horse stud. Take that short unsealed road to the car park and the nursery is next door.