My Undiscovered Sydney: Two North Shore Finds


Last month, I made a vow to explore some of Sydney’s hidden gems with my Undiscovered (by me) Sydney list. No moss has been growing under my Sydney feet. I’ve jumped right in, and the first two discoveries are both on my side of the Harbour Bridge, the North Shore.

The Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability

Tucked away off a side street in Waverton (near North Sydney) is the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability. The site used to be an industrial area, but has been reclaimed by the local council as a place for all things sustainability.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you enter the property, you step into a community garden. I loved that because I always take a wander around community gardens when I see them, imagining myself digging my hands in the dirt and growing some beautiful lettuces and tomatoes. We all have dreams. They also have artisan markets on some weekends, which I’d love to go back for.

Inside the centre’s building is a room full of displays and information about adding measures of sustainability to your life. I picked up a great brochure on making household cleaning products. They also had bins for recycling batteries and a few other items.

Half way down a steel staircase, we met the centre’s resident chickens.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then, all the way down, we were at Harbour level. Hushpuppy loved this snake sculpture made out of recycled signs (Urban Serpent by Anthony Whyte). She kept making hissing noises at it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Evidence of the former industrial use of the property remain, which makes it very atmospheric, and Partner-in-Crime went a bit wild taking moody black and white photos. We wandered through one of the old coal tunnels, and if you continue on from there, you can take a nice coastal hike. I think it would also be a nice, quiet spot for a picnic (the yard outside, not the tunnel), though we weren’t didn’t get ourselves together for that this time. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Coal Loader is a unique spot, and definitely worth a visit, but be more organized than we were and bring a picnic or plan an afternoon to continue on with the hike.

Wendy’s Secret Garden

My brunch ladies are so marvelous that when I suggested that we forego our monthly restaurant brunch in exchange for a potluck picnic at Wendy Whitely’s Secret Garden, they were all more than game.

We walked from North Sydney, past a tucked away Indian restaurant, down a set of graffitied stairs, and came into the secret garden as the tail end of a wedding party was departing. I was expecting a little pocket park, but the surprise of the secret garden is that it’s actually a quite expansive and mulit-tiered affair. We wandered around a bit and found a multitude of tucked away picnic tables, quirky sculptures, and lovely foliage. We had our choice of seats, and we picked a table that allowed us to sit in the shade while still enjoying a nice, sunny view of the garden. Though a steady stream of people wandered by, we really felt nestled away in out little corner next to the sweet scooter sculpture.


We spent almost three hours in the garden, discussing all the important matters we reserve for brunch. Our friend A, who is living back in the U.S. now, was there with us in spirit, too, as she was the one who first discovered Wendy’s Secret Garden and encouraged us to go. It took us awhile, but we finally got there.

Judging by the busload of tourists that were arriving as we left (and, of course, the wedding party when we arrived), I’d say the secret is out about Wendy’s garden, but it’s such a lovely spot and easy to find your perfect little nook where you can still feel like it’s your clandestine hideaway out of time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My discovering continues, and next month I’ll tell you about our afternoon at the Grounds of Alexandria where I had the best burger I’ve eaten in Australia.

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Ersatz Expat

8 thoughts on “My Undiscovered Sydney: Two North Shore Finds

  1. Jarka | designedbylife

    Wow, who would have thought these cool places are around North Sydney. I must admit I don’t venture out to the North that often but adored your photos (what a view) and makes me want to follow in your footsteps. Great blog. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Jarka x

    1. Cristin Post author

      Thanks! I’ve lived on the north shore for a few years now and didn’t know, either!

  2. Frances Woodhams

    Lovely post on exploring Sydney’s north shores. I have great friends (who we met when all living as expats in Tanzania) who live on Scotland Island. Some Sydney people that I have met have never heard of it! However, our friends love commuting to and from home across Pittwater to Church point by boat. Have you ever visited? I know that there are various sailing races around them and ‘man and my dog’ swimming races. There’s also a great book called Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan, about island life there – it all sounds pretty idyllic.

    1. Cristin Post author

      I’ve just heard of Scotland Island – have not been. It looks like such a lovely community. I’d like to read that book (but afraid I’ll want to up and move there!!)

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