Almanac Gardens and Art: Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden

The Secret Garden


Artistic and creative influences were a major focus of our recent trip to Sydney.


Initially, the Kandinsky exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales was a prime reason for our visit but we quickly realised other related art/cultural attractions coming to our attention such as The Brett Whiteley Studio, and Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden were also prioritised for visits.


We made our visits to the Kandinsky exhibition and The Brett Whiteley Studio. After the studio visit it was only natural to visit Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden.








The garden has been created and developed by Wendy to clean up an area that was an eyesore on a hillside between the Whiteley house and the railway line. Brett and Wendy lived at the house above the garden where Brett had a studio from which many of his wonderful Lavender Bay series of paintings were created and where he worked until he and Wendy separated and divorced in the late 1980s.



The garden is a place of serenity and tranquillity where one can sit or stroll in peace and quietness while admiring the wonderful area of greenery and shade.


View from the garden across Lavender Bay towards the Bridge


It was quite a hot day when we visited. After the fifteen minute walk from the ferry we were hot and bothered and needed some respite from the heat. Following the pathway from the bay up the hill to just below the Whiteley house it was a relief to finally sit in the shade, recover, and take in the garden and the house.


The steep path up to the Whiteley house.


The house is not open to the public but its position gives you a good view of, and feeling for the property which in parts could be termed quirky with its round tower at the corner of the building which probably has a lookout at the top. A fantastic view of Lavender Bay obviously must be seen from the top of the tower.



There are many paths to follow, lots of ‘treasured trash’ utilised as sculptures to be viewed and many places to sit and take in the surroundings on the different levels of the hillside.





Views from the house over Lavender Bay


Although it was difficult to always take in the views of Lavender Bay, the Bridge, and the Harbour from various positions within the landscape due to trees, shrubs, and low lying bushes and their thick foliage but when they were able to be viewed you quickly understood the appeal and the inspiration those scenes provided for Brett Whiteley and in particular from the elevated height he must have viewed and painted them from.



The time we spent there was indeed magical and was another wonderful highlight of our Sydney trip.


For further details about the creation and continued development of the garden check out the information on the website Here


More from Col Ritchie can be read Here



To return to the  home page click HERE


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.


Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE





About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Thanks for this Sydney series Col. The Whitely experience is a must do if we get to Sydney again. Cheers

  2. That looks like a superb spot, Col.
    It is now on my bucket list for my next Sydney visit.

  3. Karl Dubravs says

    Hi Colin
    I’ve been to the Secret Gardens a couple of times – they are definitely worth a visit and Wendy has done an amazing job. On one visit, Wendy was actually in the garden.
    I believe Brett’s ashes have been placed there, although the exact location has been kept private.

  4. The garden sounds beautiful. Love how you portray the snippets of harbour views through the garden and shrubbery..

Leave a Comment