Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney

Sydney’s Chinese Garden of Friendship

Derek Australia 24 Comments

Chinese Garden of Friendship, SydneyFrom 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.

Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney

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, Sydney

Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney

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?

Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. Sign up below for personal stories, real advice and useful updates from my adventures. Only good stuff, no nonsense.

Are you ready to earn money and travel?

How to Work on a Cruise Ship and Travel eBooksClick above and get started!

Comments 24

  1. Pingback: Global Impact - Ling Jun Ben Pu

  2. barbara

    I visited this beautiful garden while on my first visit to OZ in 2001. It is a place that I have never forgotten and never will. I have recommended it to many people.

    I am reliving the memories of it right now as I am in the middle of scanning all my pre digital photos – 600 of them – taken on that trip!

    1. Earl

      Hey Barbara – I hope you managed to finish all of that scanning! It really is such a great place, right there in the middle of such a large city. I also recommend these gardens to anyone visiting Sydney!

    1. Earl

      @wifeyofaroadie: I didn’t take the ferry to Manly on this visit, but I have on prior visits. Too much to do in the Sydney area and the fact that I was staying with a friend right behind Bondi Beach didn’t help either in terms of being motivated to explore other parts of the city 🙂

  3. Sharni

    Hey Earl! Being a staunch Melburnian, I can’t say that I’m normally a fan of Sydney (preferring to escape to the Blue Mountains instead), but that Chinese Garden alone sounds like it just might change my mind! Lovely pics!

    My personal favourite garden/park is Łazienki Park in Warsaw. It’s an oasis of beauty amongst normally ugly Warsaw: it’s huge, has a wonderful palace on a lake, you can rub Chopin’s stone shoulder, and the spring-time colours when I visited were simply stunning. Plus, it has numerous inquisitive red squirrels who come close to you…and to an Australian, squirrels (especially red ones) are a real novelty and source of fascination!

    1. Earl

      Hey Sharni – Thanks for the recommendation of Lazienki Park 🙂 It sounds absolutely perfect and I shall add it to my list of place to visit. Now I just need to get to Poland at some point soon!

  4. Dina

    Hi Earl, I visited this garden, finally after 1 year being in Sydney living so close to it! It’s fun to see the garden with the skyscrapers above it.

    1. Earl

      Hey Hannah – Thank you for commenting! I highly recommend, in case that wasn’t obvious in the post, a visit to the gardens. But of course, Sydney doesn’t exactly have a shortage of places to visit and things to see so it’s quite understandable that you haven’t come across it quite yet 🙂

  5. rose

    I live right next to the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately right now it is covered in snow, although the chinese garden is still quite pretty, with all its bridges and hills and pagodas. I just looked it up now and saw that it is apparently the biggest chinese garden outside of China – I’m looking forward to going back as soon as the snow melts!

    1. Earl

      Hey Rose – Seems like quite an ideal location to be right next to those gardens. Not a bad place to escape to whenever you need a break, once the snow is gone of course!

  6. Maria Staal

    I loved the Chinese Garden in Sydney! Such a great place to wander around. Like you say, very peaceful and hard to imagine it’s situated a large city.
    Very much worth a visit!

  7. karen ho fatt

    The Asian gardens I have been to have been needless to say wonderful and takes you back to another world. I love the symbolism that permeates these gardens as well. Design is deliberate and thought out.

    I last visited on in Florida, the Morikami Gardens, albeit not the best time of year to see all the blooms but you still can enjoy its beauty ,flavor and teh many spots for contemplation.

    1. Earl

      Hey Karen – I love the Morikami Gardens! My mother actually lives relatively close to those gardens and so I try and visit them whenever I’m in town. Such a good place to spend a day!

      Thank you for the comment 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hola Andi – Yeah, it is your kind of place. I could see you spending an entire day or three wandering around the gardens 🙂

  8. Connie

    Such a beautiful and serene spot! I’m sure it’s a much needed respite from Sydney city life. Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to keep this place in mind for when I finally make it to Sydney!

    1. Earl

      Hey Connie – It definitely deserves a spot on any Sydney itinerary! If they only had a small hostel inside the gardens I would have spent most of my visit inside it’s gates 🙂

  9. Anthony

    When I lived with my Grandmother, I had a pet iguana-but she didn’t know about it. Needless to say she FREAKED when she went to tidy my room while I was at school 😛

    1. Earl

      Hey Anthony – Yeah, I could see how that would happen 🙂 At least it wasn’t a snake or something more venomous!

      1. Anthony

        haha yep! They’re actually no where near as menacing as they look, they’re very loving! That really is a charming looking place, thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *