In the shadow of the awe-inspiring Sydney Harbour bridge and beside the fun centre of Sydney, Luna Park, Wendy Whitley has created her secret garden from the ruins of a dump on her doorstep. The land remains in the hands of the Department of Railways, but recently the North Sydney Council was granted a 30-year renewable lease. Wendy's mammoth task, and that of her staff and volunteers, will be safe for this period and no doubt for many years to come.
After the land was no longer used for train shunting by the railways, maintenance of the area wasn't provided, so people used it as a free dumping ground for large and small rubbish as they 'upgraded' the furniture of their nice clean homes. Before the turning of the first shovel of soil to create the garden, truckloads of junk had to go.
One of the manyMorton Bay fig trees
This daunting task was undertaken by a remarkable woman. After winning an art prize from David Jones, she was able to finance her studies at East Sydney Technical School in 1956. She met Brett Whitley in 1957 and they were married in London in 1962. They lived and travelled the world together until 1985 when they settled in Lavender Bay. After the death of her husband in 1992, Wendy needed an outlet for her grief. She turned her remarkable energy and artistic talents into creating her Secret Garden. What started as a small garden as a memorial place for her husband and daughter has expanded over the past 26 years. No one told her to stop, so she just carried on. Visitors can see her in the garden on a daily bases
One of the many talented artists of Lavender Bay
Be amazed as visitors are at the extent and beauty of this space. Paths wind around the steep slopes. Scattered about are preloved articles which add a comic touch to this place of wonder. Turn a corner and find a place to sit and have your lunch, play chess or just let the breeze play through the dappled light filtered through the ancient Morton Bay fig trees. Listen to the different birdcalls or just 'be'. Get married, take your dog and lots of pictures. Respect the place and leave at least 3 hours to admire the peace and the feeling of joy as I did, dear reader.
The memorial garden
It's free and there are lots of ways to travel to the garden. Ferry and train are recommended as parking is almost impossible. Enjoy.