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a group of people sitting in a garden

The secret maybe well and truly out about this hidden garden, but it really is heart-warming story and a space worth sharing. When Wendy Whiteley lost her husband, Australian artist Brett Whiteley in 1992, she funneled her love and grief into transforming a disused, derelict train yard space.

Wendy’s Secret Garden – which is at the foothill of her private home in Lavender Bay – has been nurtured by Whiteley and two gardeners over the past 25 years. They’ve planted natives, exotics, plants and herbs and landscaped the space with winding paths supported by raw bush timber balustrades, benches to sit on and cobbled stairs, retaining walls and paths.

Alongside the natural beauty of curling ferns, flowering lilies and towering shady figs, you’ll also find bronze busts, engraved stone tablets, wooden carvings and other sculptures dotted around the garden. These artworks serve as a point of inspiration for Whiteley and the community alike, with many being donated by local artists.

The garden also reveals majestic views of the sparkling harbour foreshore, framing the Harbour Bridge and the fringes of North Sydney and the CBD. The garden’s long-term future was in a precarious balance up until recently, when the NSW State Government granted North Sydney Council a 30-year lease on the garden to secure its future.

Tucked away in the shadow of office towers, it is both public land and private paean to love, loss and renewal.