Wendy’s Secret Garden, a sanctuary in Lavender Bay

Steps at Wendy's Secret Garden, Lavender Bay, Sydney

It’s hard to imagine Wendy’s Secret Garden being a run down, over-grown, under-appreciated patch of land — but that’s precisely what it was before Wendy Whiteley began working her magic. Nestled on the harbour’s edge at Lavender Bay, the garden is no longer much of a secret (despite its moniker).

With word-of-mouth megaphoned by the rise of websites like TripAdvisor (and posts like the one you’re currently reading), Wendy’s ‘secret’ garden is now found and enjoyed by many visitors who come from far and wide.

Wendy began transforming the once derelict space into a garden following the death of her artist ex-husband, Brett Whiteley, in 1992. Nearly a decade later Wendy suffered another great loss when her daughter Arkie, an actress, died of cancer in 2001. The ashes of both Brett and Arkie are now buried in Wendy’s garden.

The NSW Government owns the land Wendy restored. So that the garden can continue being enjoyed by the public long into the future, the land is leased to the local council on a 30 year renewable lease. The lease is a win for all who love the garden, and of course, for Wendy, who welcomed news of the lease in 2015, telling ABC news:

“It will become a collaboration now instead of having a slightly worrying feeling that somebody could arrive with a bulldozer someday or a chainsaw or something and it could all be gone overnight,” Ms Whiteley said. “I can’t quite grasp it yet. It’s still a bit unreal.”

Wendy’s Secret Garden is just minutes from the bustling CBD of Sydney and is easily accessible via public transport. The garden is a short walk along the foreshore from Milson’s Point train and ferry stations. Here’s a map to help you along your journey. When you arrive you’ll find plenty of space to lay a picnic blanket, and there are benches and chairs throughout the garden so that you can kick back, relax, and enjoy the wonderland Wendy created.

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