A gentle splash. Soft buzz of the sprinkler. Trees sway in the breeze. Slow trickle of the cascade over limestone rocks. The Chinese Gardens are the perfect place to come and chill out from a hectic day of Sydney city life.
The Chinese Gardens of Friendship were designed to represent the Taoist principles of Ying and Yang and the five elements of earth, wood, fire, water and metal. Furthermore, the garden is designed to represent southern China that work together to balance natural beauty and produce a sense of rugged wilderness in a small space of 1 hectare.
The Dragon Wall inside the Hall of Longevity is the most popular site to visit within the gardens. A gift from Guangdong the sculpture features two colourful dragons that symbolise a union between China and New South Wales (NSW). China (or Guangdong) is gold, and NSW is blue. Don’t forget to make a wish as you stand with your back to the sculpture and toss a coin over your shoulder into the water.
As I made my way around the gardens it was refreshing to enjoy the soft cool breeze that lulls you into a sense of relaxation. Next on the path is the Dragon Post and if you look closely there are animals carved into the stone that represent the Chinese calendar. Alternatively, a candle can be inserted inside the top of the tower to light the way.
Next follow the wandering gallery decorated with red lanterns through more lush green gardens. A waterfall oasis awaits as you climb the path – but be careful, the rocks are uneven in places. Stop here for a moment, sit on the stone bench and listen to the sound of water pounding over the rocks into the pond below. A calming sound against the garden green backdrop, not ferocious like the roar of Niagara Falls.
At the top of the garden is the main feature – the Rising Jade Pavilion. Towering high above the garden it provides the best panoramic view of the whole garden. Tradition has it that the jade holds the power of eternal life by which the spring has flowed continuously over jade rocks for 10,000 years. Stand and watch the serene calm waters of the Lake of Brightness, listen to the slow trickling cascade nearby and watch the gold coloured fish glide back and forth in the pond below. Feel yourself rejuvenate!
The gardens also have a year round season of native plants and during the summer the Sacred Lotus is in bloom. It is a mix of pink and purple and is common throughout all of Asia. The Sacred Lotus gives out a sweet fragrance and it is said that one can eat the stalks, seeds and the roots. On my way down from the Rising Jade Pavilion, I found this flower shining on the Lake of Brightness sending out its magical powers of purity and perfection.
After a leisurely walk of these gorgeous gardens I stopped for a rest in the Boat House Pavilion. I took a break to just sit and drink in the garden calmness. Especially on a day that was warm in the low thirties, yet felt much hotter because of the city. So to sit in a shady spot with an amazing view of the dragon wall is the ideal way to take time out. Perhaps the most interesting feature I found in the Boat House Pavilion were the gorgeous Chinese lantern and painted windows.
With a sense of serenity and beauty the Chinese Gardens of Friendship are truly an oasis in the heart of Sydney’s Darling Harbor!