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Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden

Home > Sydney > Picnic Spots | Parks | Free | Family
by Pauline (subscribe)
Published March 30th 2013
It's an unassuming garden created by Wendy Whiteley, wife of the late Australian artist, Brett Whiteley at the tip of Clark Park. The garden was affectionately known by locals as Wendy's Secret Garden but with media publicity and word-of-mouth, it has quickly become popular among the locals and tourists. Last Friday, I decided to venture to the much raved garden which is now less secretive.

Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
Entry point from Lavender Bay, North Sydney

I started off from North Sydney train station and took a short walk down to the junction of Walker st and Lavender st. You can see the stairways down to the garden just right in front of Indian Harbourside Restaurant. Do take note that there isn't any sign post which shows the direction to the garden but can be found on google maps. It was quite easy for me to locate the place.

Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
Stairs down to Wendy's Secret Garden

Just a few steps down the stairs, you will find some benches on the higher terrace of the garden. However, views of the harbour are partially blocked by leafy trees and plants. There was a steady stream of visitors and joggers that passed by the park that day.

Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
Benches on the higher ground

I continued to walk down the stairs and was immediately greeted by the Whiteley's mansion with a distinctive tower which was said to be Brett Whiteley's favourite. The house overlooks a serene garden created and maintained by Wendy.

Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
Tower in Whiteley's mansion at Lavender Bay

My first impression of the garden was that it wasn't the best garden I've seen in Sydney but upon learning the story and life history of Wendy Whiteley before visiting has helped me to appreciate the beauty and purpose of the garden.

Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
Sculpture display

After the death of her husband in 1992, Wendy channelled her grief and sorrow by transforming a rubbish dump into a beautiful garden at her own expense. In 2001, she was devastated over the death of her only child, Arkie from cancer. The ashes of Brett and Arkie are buried in the garden at a location that was never disclosed by Wendy. She continued her work in beautifying the garden as a tribute to her greatest love in life, Brett and Arkie as well as her new life of recovering from drug addict.

Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
More sculptures

There are many interesting sculptures in the garden. Some a little artistic and some made of recycled materials. Wendy's garden is filled with a variety of plants, flowers, and trees which are of different shapes, colours and sizes.

Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
They look like bells

The huge fig tree give the garden lots of shades. There are a few benches around it where visitors can rest while overlooking the harbour. It's also a great spot for a little picnic or even to do some reflection or meditation as the garden is really serene and peaceful.
Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
Big Fig Tree

Wendy has also placed some tables and benches for visitors who wish to have picnic with friends or maybe to do some work there like drawing and writing.
Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
Picnic table and benches

Throughout the whole visit, I can't help but to think how strong Wendy must have been to overcome her grief and turning the debilitating hopelessness into creating something beautiful not only for herself but also for others to enjoy.

After a walk in the garden, I took the stairs down towards the harbour. It was an intimate and inspiring visit for me.

Wendy secret garden, lavender bay
Harbour view
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Why? Quiet, peaceful and beautiful
When: Anytime
Where: Lavender Bay, North Sydney
Cost: free
Your Comment
I really like this article. Something a bit different and secret. Great photos.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|6087) 3338 days ago
I walk past the indian restaurant once a week and always see joggers coming up the stairs - I'm sure I've read about Wendy's garden before as well - I'm going to make an effort and check it out next week - I felt calm and relaxed just reading the article - thanks for publishing it! Carmen
by carme (score: 1|28) 3337 days ago
Been there many times!..Gr8t spot!..awesome view of the bridge etc etc from here..Wendy has done wonders with this site,the colors are also magnificent the way they blend in with each other, almost like a "painter" created it!
On my trips to Sydney every 6 mths it is always one of my first stops, siting down at the bottom of the garden always gives me the feeling of inner peace!..I know that sounds strange...but..Cheers, Bob, Adelaide.
by bbobb (score: 0|7) 3338 days ago
The place looks great. I am tempted to visit it soon.
by Wendy (score: 2|890) 3338 days ago
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