With Michelle Byrne
It is hard to forget the childhood literary classic “the Secret Garden” written by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I can remember reading the book many times as a child and being amazed at the magical garden that bought people together, created so much joy and satisfaction and improved the health and well-being of the characters.
With the rain finally behind us and with sunny weather upon us, we decided to venture out to the beautiful Hawkesbury to explore a real life Secret Garden. Set in the grounds of the University of Western Sydney, The Secret Garden is a not for profit “Community Hub” managed by North West Disability Services (NWDS) that supports a range of programs for people with a disability and brings together community groups, volunteers, organisations and individuals.
We enjoyed meandering around the tranquil gardens which Maddie and Alexis described as a “maze” as we are looked at all the various gardens and watched as the volunteers lovingly water the plants in the nursery. There is a wide range of plants for sale including natives, succulents, exotics, hedging, cottage garden favourites and everything in between! All money raised from sales goes back into the community services provided by NWDS and ensuring the Secret Garden can remain operational.
The onsite café, “On Mile Kitchen Café” is located in a beautiful mud brick building that overlooks a fenced off children’s playground which includes a mud hut for kids to play in, sand and shovels and wheelbarrows for digging as well as small swings and rockers. Sophie had a delightful time digging in the sand and I enjoyed a coffee whilst the girls’ played happily. There is also farmyard animals including chickens, ducks, guinea pigs, sheep goats and miniature donkeys.
There are plenty of places through the garden to sit and enjoy a book in peace or quiet or to share a meal with friends and families whilst the kids run around. The Secret Garden is just as magical as in the novel and it is easy to see the benefits it offers to the entire community and the joy and satisfaction it brings to the staff, the volunteers, the program participants as well as the general public.
On 30th April, The Secret Garden will host its annual Autumn Fair which will include plant sales, market stalls, live music, food stalls, BBQ, Devonshire tea, farmyard animals to cuddle and feed as well as train rides for the kids. We certainly can’t wait to attend.
No trip to Hawkesbury would be complete without driving past the RAAF base to see the planes, a walk through the township of Windsor and a visit to the biggest lolly shop I have ever seen which stocks candy from right around the world.
It was a big day out for us and we can’t wait to share more of our adventures in the Hawkesbury with you very soon.