Self Guided walk – Hyde Park to the Royal Botanic Gardens

Sydney Royal Botanic Garden

My favourite way to shake off the cobwebs after a long flight is to take a walk in the sunshine and fresh air.  The Royal Botanic Gardens hug the eastern shore of Sydney Harbour and make the perfect introduction to the city.  This self-guided botanic gardens walk allows you to discover a small section of the city before you get to meet the main attractions.

This self-guided Botanic Gardens Walk is an excellent introduction to the city.

This is my favourite welcome to Sydney walk. It allows you to approach the Opera House and Harbour via the Royal Botanic Gardens and is a breathtaking way to get your first glimpse of theses icons. To do this route justice, you could take a whole day and explore all the attractions on the way but if time is tight, you could do it in an hour or two.

Step 1 – Let’s begin at Hyde Park

Self-guided walk Sydney - Hyde Park Fountain Sydney

I like to start this walk at Hyde Park where you can see the famous Archibald Fountain and St Mary’s Cathedral before heading down Art Gallery Road past the Art Gallery of NSW to Mrs Macquarie’s Point. Hyde Park is named after Hyde Park in London and was the home of Australia’s first racecourse. At the southern end of the park is the War Memorial.

Step 2 –  Art Gallery NSW

Self-guided walk Sydney - Art gallery NSW

The Art Gallery is free and has an excellent collection of Australian Art – Check out Brett Whitley’s painting “Balcony” and John Olsen’s “5 Bells” my two personal favourites. There is also a very good collection of Aboriginal works.

Continue down Art Gallery road along the edge of the garden – but do not enter.

Step 3 – Andrew “Boy” Charlton Pool

Self guided walk - Boy Charlton Pool
By Robyn Lawrence from Queanbeyan, Australia via Wikimedia Commons

On your right is the Boy Charlton Pool, a beautiful swimming pool that has recently been refurbished and is a great place for a swim in the city.  There is also a cafe where you can grab a coffee and have a short rest. If you don’t feel like stopping, keep walking down the road until you reach the water.

Step 4 – Mrs Macquaries Point

Postcard view Sydney from Mrs Macquarie's Point
The view from Mrs Macquaries Point

At the end of the road is Mrs Macquarie’s point, the place where the image above was taken. There is a rock ledge in the shape of a chair here (look right on the point) which is actually where the wife of Governor Macquarie sat watching the ocean waiting for boats to arrive from England. It’s about a 15 min walk from the gallery to the point.

Step 5 – The Royal Botanic Gardens

After you have taken lots of photos head into the gardens and follow the sea wall around to the Opera House. If you have time to explore the gardens, my favourite spots are

The Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters Garden – Signage here explains the way the land was used by indigenous Australians

self-guided walk Botanic Gardens - Cadi Jam Ora First Encounter's garden

The lily pond near the cafe – is a perfect place to relax with a drink and a sandwich, it’s also a good place for a spot of bird watching.

The lily pond - Botanic Gardens Walk Sydney

and my favourite sculpture known as Mrs Macquarie’s Folly – where you can sit and stare out to sea just as she did.

Self-guided botanic gardens walk - Mrs Macquarie's folly sculpture

and leave time to photograph all the gorgeous old trees!

self-guided Botanic Gardens walk Sydney

So there you go – an easy, fairly flat walk that can take an hour or a day depending on how distracted you get along the way.

Have you visited Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden?  Do you have a favourite spot? 



9 Comments

  1. I have walked through the park to get to the Art Gallery but never really taken the time to fully explore the area. Maybe I should give it some more time when I visit Sydney next.

  2. a great original post about Sydney, i have unfortunately never visited Australia but I plan to one day and will add the royal botanic gardens as a place to visit on my list.

    • That’s great Alyssa. Please feel free to send me any questions you might have. Also check out Sydney Greeters for a free tour with a local when you arrive. There are more than 50 volunteer greeters who show visitors a little piece of Sydney while they are here. It’s a fantastic service and a great way to get some insider knowledge on the city.

  3. In the past I checked some of your articles just our of curiosity: never been to Australia yet, so everything I read was unknown and interesting. Unexpectedly, it seems that a trip Down Under might happen sooner than I thought (fingers crossed, by the end of this year!). It looks like we will be based in Perth, but who can miss an opportunity to explore as many places as possible. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use your guides to full potential. I wouldn’t miss a chance to compare Hyde Parks or visit the Botanical Garden.

  4. We started our visit to Sydney in the botanical park as we were staying close to it. The only thing we didn’t see was the pool. That’s a great spot for a swim.

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