Fresh and fab­u­lous

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - CHRIS­TINE McCABE

ponds, tea-house and se­cret, wil­low-laced groves.

In early spring, the hot pink aza­leas are in flower, cas­cad­ing down the rocks to the lake where fat koi carp wrig­gle lazily. The air is rich with the damp smell of pond mud and the jostling crowds make it feel as au­then­tic as a gar­den in China.

Wendy’s Se­cret Gar­den is tucked away off Laven­der Street at McMa­hons Point on the city’s lower north shore, hap­haz­ardly ter­raced down a steep site. And while screams from nearby Luna Park some­times dis- turb the water­front reverie, this re­mains an oa­sis of deep green calm look­ing out on to a de­light­ful, con­tained har­bour view.

Wendy White­ley set about mak­ing this gar­den fol­low­ing the death of her artist hus­band Brett White­ley, trans­form­ing a weed-choked and junk-strewn site into a very per­sonal space (Brett and daugh­ter Arkie’s ashes are buried here). It has since be­come a place of con­tem­pla­tion for lo­cal res­i­dents and visi­tors who take the trou­ble to find it.

Be­neath More­ton Bay figs, nar­row, wind­ing paths, made steady by rus­tic tim­ber handrails, are sketched with the white and apri­cot trum­pet flow­ers of the Brug­man­sia pro­vid­ing an ex­trav­a­gant splash of colour.

In the mid-19th cen­tury, Cre­morne Point was home to a 9ha plea­sure gar­den fea­tur­ing all man­ner of en­ter­tain­ment, from band mu­sic to archery.

The gar­den’s suc­cess was short-lived but to­day you can ex­plore a much more in­ti­mate gar­den, this one cre­ated by Lex and Ruby Gra­ham in the late 1950s, and es­tab­lished from a sin­gle bulb that was found float­ing in a rock­pool.

En­ter via a small laneway be­tween 31 and 33 Cre­morne Road and fol­low the nar­row stone path, wrig­gling down be­neath large, over­hang­ing rocks. It’s cool and green, with only yel­low waratahs, peach­coloured clivias and glimpses of the blue-grey har­bour to spark the gloam­ing.

Chris­tine McCabe was a guest of Desti­na­tion NSW. IF gar­dens are sexy, food is red-hot and the two to­gether are Bur­ton and Tay­lor, it’s hardly sur­pris­ing Syd­ney’s gar­dento-plate trend is boom­ing. A VISIT to is proof Syd­neysiders can’t get enough of the River Cot­tage aes­thetic (a trend Bri­tish food critic AA Gill has dis­missed as ‘‘all rather Marie An­toinette’’).

You can queue here for ages to get a ta­ble but the wait is very pic­turesque at this for­mer in­dus­trial site that has been trans­formed into a mi­crofarm with res­i­dent chooks, veg­etable gar­den and, un­til re­cently, Kevin Ba­con the pig and Bradley the lamb. (Both crea­tures were stolen and a re­ward re­mains in place for their safe re­turn.) A quaintly old­fash­ioned cake and lemon­ade stand (try the rose-flavoured fizz) and fruit stalls add to the at­mos­phere. Check out the new on­site florist. More: ground­sroast­ers.com. CELEBRITY chef Matt Mo­ran has taken the gar­den-to-plate ethos to the heart of the east­ern sub­urbs at in swanky Wool­lahra. With its gar­den set­ting, the once quite posh Pruniers now feels a bit like a coun­try kitchen (al­beit a very stylish one), bustling with fam­i­lies and groups of friends tuck­ing into plates of lamb and grass-fed beef raised on Mo­ran’s Cen­tral Table­lands farm. Cru­cial to the restau­rant’s home­grown charm is the lovely on­site walled veg­etable gar­den where straw­ber­ries peek through cracks in the pave­ment. More: chiswick­restau­rant.com.au. THERE’S no gar­den at as there’s just no room, but this slip of a restau­rant, tucked away in the very non­bu­colic Kings Cross, does feel like a funky farm kitchen and for young chefs Mike Mu Sung and Tris­tan Rosier, ev­ery night is a din­ner party — make that a very cool din­ner party with a su­pe­rior playlist. There’s only one ta­ble, seat­ing 20, and one ta­ble d’hote menu (four cour­ses for $55 plus cake). When I visit, dishes in­clude wicked chicken skin crisps with mayo; beef cheek cooked overnight; and an ut­terly de­li­cious ginger­bread cake. More: farm­house­k­ingscross.com.au. AT Three just up the hill from Bronte Beach, for­mer Tet­suya’s head chef Dar­ren Robert­son and his fel­low chef-own­ers are liv­ing the good life with a per­ma­cul­ture gar­den and chooks out the back. The sim­ple menu is res­o­lutely pro­duce-driven — per­haps snap­per ce­viche or a lovely egghop­per with egg­plant curry? More: three­blue­ducks.com.

rom hi­nese

Matt Mo­ran (right) at Chiswick

Farm­house

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