From the above photograph, it might be difficult to believe that such a place exists, not in the lush countryside of China, but in the exact center of a city with over 4 million inhabitants. This is the Chinese Garden of Friendship, built in 1988 by the Chinese community of Sydney in cooperation with the community of Guangzhou, China, to commemorate Australia’s bicentennial celebrations.
Adhering to the Taoist principles of Yin-Yang, and with a strict focus on the laws of harmony and balance, this garden is more than impressive, offering a powerfully serene atmosphere to all who step through its entrance.
At first glance, and especially from the outside, the garden seems quite small and perhaps not worth the $6 entrance fee, but as soon as you take a few steps into the Courtyard of Welcoming Fragrance (sounds a bit corny but you have to trust me on this one!), the city outside instantly disappears and the garden transforms itself into a never-ending land of pleasant surprises.
I was free to move in any direction, to choose any path I wished as I made my way through a captivating world of black bamboo groves, cascading waterfalls, mythical rock sculptures, a lotus pond and landscapes full of weeping willows, jasmine and gardenias. With dozens of golden carp swimming in the waters, several large iguanas roaming the paths and flocks of Australian magpies singing from the trees, I often found myself lost in peaceful contemplation as I slowly roamed around.
Moments after descending from a traditionally designed pagoda, I came upon a small covered terrace on the edge of the pond that offered a spectacular, misty view out over the entire garden. For a long time I remained on this terrace, and when a light rain began to fall, I simply took a seat on a wooden bench and observed the rain drops dripping from the leaves all around me. At this point, it had been almost two hours since I had heard a sound from the outside world and when the rain finally let up, I had difficulty convincing myself to continue exploring the garden. I was as content as could be sitting right there on that bench.
Eventually, however, I did continue and as would be expected, I soon reached the exit of the Chinese Garden of Friendship. And after a few moments of hesitation, I did force myself to walk down the steps and back into the middle of Sydney once again. If only I could have camped inside of this garden for a week!
Not surprisingly, though, as soon as I left the garden behind and started walking towards Chinatown, my stomach began to growl and in an instant, a new adventure commenced. My goal was to now track down a big, tasty bowl of curry laksa, something I had been craving for quite a few days. And with my calm and meditative state of mind as my guide, I was prepared to dedicate the rest of the day to this new mission.
Chinese Garden of Friendship:
Hours: 9:30am – 5:30pm (7 days)
Location: At the southern end of Darling Harbour
Admission: $6 adults / $3 children
Have you ever visited this garden or do have any other garden recommendations anywhere in the world?