In January of this year I flew from Adelaide, South Australia, to Sydney, New South Wales to join a friend who was visiting Australia from Switzerland. She has holidayed in Sydney on previous occasions, but on this visit she wanted to show me HER SYDNEY. She has travelled much and Sydney is her favourite capital city worldwide.
Stepping into the Garden of Friendship was one step out of busy city life and another step into a beautiful landscape. The Chinese Garden of Friendship was designed by Sydney’s Chinese sister city, Guangzhou, in China. The gardens were developed on a site in Darling Harbour near Chinatown complementing the area’s already rich Chinese heritage and culture. They were officially opened in 1988 as part of Sydney’s bicentennial celebrations and they were named the Garden of Friendship symbolising the bond established between China and Australia. At the main entrance are two Chinese lions which have been carved from rare Chinese granite. A hybrid of dog, lion and dragon, they represent loyalty, strength and prosperity.
Much more than just a city garden, the walled Chinese Garden respectfully recreates the philosophy and harmony of a traditional Chinese garden with waterfalls, mountains, lakes, exotic plants, pavilions and hidden stone pathways. Koi carp swim in the lakes, willows weep in the breeze, water dragons scuttle over pathways, bird life abounds and a Teahouse serves Chinese tea and dim sum (savoury dumplings). Entering the garden is like walking back in time into the quiet solitude of ancient Chinese architecture and its relationship with nature. The art of Chinese garden design began in imperial parks during the Shang dynasty 3,000 years ago. Later they flourished on a smaller scale in the private gardens of China’s rich and powerful. Darling Harbour’s Chinese Garden of Friendship is a small-scale version of a typical private garden from this era. In the Penjing courtyard are ‘tray scenery’ creations ranging from single trees to detailed scenes reminiscent of paintings. The oldest tree in the courtyard dates from 1932. Unlike western-style gardens, there are no planted flowerbeds or manicured lawns. Instead, wild aspects of nature are recreated.
This garden brought many memories of visits to spectacular gardens in China, the noticeable difference being the bright sunshine and clear blue sky. It really is something special, and more so when sharing with a friend!