Sydneysiders have been picnicking here since way before its now-famous camellias arrived. In the early years of the 20th century this beauty spot overlooking Yowie Bay was known as the Maston Pleasure Grounds, and people flocked to eat, dance and go boating. A Devonshire tea rings the right kind of bell.
The garden is now named for Australia’s great camellia researcher, Professor Waterhouse, and is recognised as one of 60 significant camellia gardens in the world. Though most of the 400 or so camellia species flower through winter, the many varieties of Camellia reticulata will be blooming into November.
The garden is much more than camellias though, with a popular rose garden, winding paths curving down the slopes and enough flat lawns to spread out picnic rugs. At the bottom of the slope a series of duck ponds are shaded by ferns and mature trees.
Fagan Park, Dural
The 55 hectares of Fagan Park are a gift from the Fagan family who were pioneers of the Dural citrus industry in the second half of the 19th century. The estate was donated to the public by the family in 1980, and is managed by Hornsby Council.
The original idea was for a botanic garden, but in consultation with landscape architect and horticulturist Stuart Pittendrigh (the man behind the planting at Barangaroo Reserve) the brief became instead to showcase plants from different regions of the world. This is the Gardens of Many Nations, which covers 10 hectares of the park, with 11 geographically themed gardens.
Elsewhere there is an Eco garden showcasing sustainable edible gardening, two large playgrounds, several bush walks, a large lake and lawns big enough for kite-flying.
The multicultural theme leaves the menu options here wide open – sushi platters in the Japanese garden, fried chicken in the American garden, bread and olives in the Mediterranean courtyard?
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