There’s something about a spectacular mountainside garden that invigorates the soul, and with the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens in the Blue Mountains only a 90-minute drive from Wahroonga, it’s one of the prettiest day trips close to the North Shore.
Set a breathtaking 1,000 metres above sea level, the outlook from the gardens at Mount Tomah rivals even the view from the famous Three Sisters. Overlooking the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the 28-hectare estate is brimming with luscious plant life in a fabulous rainbow of colour, dotted with water features and teeming with local wildlife. And with this hidden gem less than two hours’ drive from most areas on the North Shore, it’s a must-see for any family wanting to commune with nature.
Even as you pull into the carpark at the gardens, there’s evidence of the thriving plantlife with colourful blooms lining the edges of the grounds and green vines creeping gloriously over fences. But beyond the entrance lies a vast array of buds and blossoms, from towering groves of pine trees and sequoias to tiny flowering plants, grouped according to their geographic region.
The hanging swamp, named ‘Bog Garden’ will fascinate kids, while the nodding butter-yellow blooms in the sprawling Daffodils in the Brunet Meadow will delight adults. Further into the gardens a Proteaceae display shows off waratahs, banksias, grevilleas and proteas in bright reds and blushing pinks.
For a change of scenery, head to the Remnant Rainforest where you can see giant tree-ferns, sassafras, coachwood, blackbutt, brown barrel. Then, contrast, check out the Formal Garden, a collection of rose, herb and lawn gardens meticulously planted in geometric circles with manicured hedges lining the walk.
With over 40,000 plants on display, these are only some of the glorious gardens you can explore. And once you’ve gazed your fill, you can choose to stop in the gardens for a picnic, or take in the breathtaking view from Tomah Gardens Restaurant. With dishes by Sean Moran from Sean’s Panorama at Bondi, the exquisite food and excellent coffee are the perfect repast after a hard days’ hiking through the grounds.
The menu offers a range of rustic dishes using fresh, seasonal produce. A popular wedding spot, the generous balcony overlooks the winding paths and gardens below, allowing you to watch other guests enjoying the surrounds as your dine. The one-hat menu changes regularly but offerings have included rabbit, fresh mushrooms, yabbies and local Bilpin apples.
After lunch, there’s still plenty of garden to explore, with a rough-hewn stone staircase leading back into the gardens. Follow the track and trickling waterfalls give way to stunning rock formations set against the Blue Mountains skyline.
It won’t be long before the sun sets and you can take in the glorious colours from your vantage point on the mountain.
Then, as you leave, stop by the the garden shop to take home a seedling for your own little part of Mt Tomah Gardens. Or if tending plants yourself isn’t your thing, a local artwork inspired by the grounds will be the perfect reminder of a perfectly gorgeous day out with the family.