Located on a beautiful hillside in the heart of Hornsby, the gorgeous Lisgar Gardens is known for its stunning range of camelias and nice and secluded location. Here’s everything you can expect from a fun-filled day out exploring this tranquil and inviting place.
I have lived around Hornsby for my entire life, yet had never ventured to Lisgar Gardens before. I had heard plenty about it from friends, so finally packed up my husband and kids, Cassie (6) and Elliot (2) and we went off for a morning adventure. Here’s what we found…
Getting to Lisgar Gardens
Getting to Lisgar Gardens is nice and easy, but parking can be tricky depending what time of day you head there. We arrived at 10am and just parked on Lisgar Street (just off William St). The cars were already backing up and we didn’t dare try and get a closer spot. The street is quite narrow when lined with cars and not ideal for a people mover like ours! If you keep going down the road you will come to a small car park, where you might be lucky enough to find a spot.
There is also some different entrances to the gardens (so we learned on our bush walk). If you come in on the other side at Pinera Close, there is much more parking available. But note: you will have to walk a good 20 minutes through the loop track to reach the gardens (it’s a fabulous walk!).
Entering the gardens
Coming into the gardens off Lisgar Road and you enter down a set of stairs that lead to a waterfall. The kids were hooked from that moment! It then takes you down to a beautiful open-grassed space surrounded by flowers in bloom. The kids ran up and down the path checking them all out, while there were a number of people picnicking on the grass. I made a mental note that this would be a great place to come back for a picnic.
Note: there is an inclinator that provides access for those who need it, however it is currently closed during Covid.
In this area, you will also find the pavilion, with toilets conveniently located on the other side. We took a walk through, but didn’t stop.
This was definitely the highlight of our trip. In fact, the kids made up stop in for a second visit after our walk before we headed home. Heading inside you’re greeted by two large ponds with Koi crap fish.
You can stop on the bridge and look over the edge to see them swimming beneath you. For those with unpredictable toddlers on them (like me!), keep a close watch and maybe a hand on them, as there isn’t much stopping them from joining the fish. If you walk a little future on you come to a second pond where you can view the fish (they are joined, but there seems to be two popular viewing spots to see them).
The Loop Walk
I will be honest with you. We didn’t do our research before heading to Lisgar Gardens and had no idea the loop walk even existed. We walked on to explore more and found ourselves stumbling upon it and actually completing the entire circuit. It’s a simple, easy-to-follow walking trail, but with plenty of up-hill challenges and stairs. Chris (my husband) did end up carrying Elliot for a fair bit of it! There’s no way you could bring a pram on this walk.
The walk took us about 1.5 hours (with stops along the way).
You head away from the gardens towards Jimmy Banks creek. The stairs are actually very handy, as they make it a nice and stable walk for the kids.
Once you reach the other side, the trek up begins. There are plenty of signs within the walk, so you know you’re going the right way.
At one point, the walk leads out to Pretoria Parade with instructions to keep walking and enter back on Pinera Close. The kids weren’t too keen on this part of the walk! But we made it back in and down a huge set of stairs to get us back down to the creek.
The end of the walk follows along the creek, before you head back up again to the gardens.
What you will find on the loop walk:
- Picnic tables: there are a number of picnic tables nestled within the bush. A great setting to bring the kids for a day out and a bite to eat.
- Waterfalls: there’s another great waterfall to check out along the way.
- Creek: half the walk follows along and over the creek.
History of Lisgar Gardens
The site was purchased in 1917 by Dr. Max Cotton (1887-1967) from his brother Leo, specifically for the purpose of creating the gardens.
Built on a steep hillside, the gardens’ different levels were created by the construction of sandstone block walls. These, along with the fish ponds, took two stonemasons two years to complete. By 1950 the gardens were planted with rhododendrons, azaleas, gardenias and other exotics in harmony with native trees and ferns, highlighting over 80 varieties of camellias. Some of the original camellias, which are over 60 years old, still exist in the gardens today
Essential Details: Lisgar Gardens
- Address: Lisgar Road, Hornsby
- Parking: Free street parking on Lisgar Street and William Street
- Toilets: Yes
- Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8am-3.30pm | Saturday & Sunday: 10am-4pm