As a first time visitor to the Australian Botanic Garden in Mt Annan, several things impress me. Firstly, it’s a pleasant day trip from the city (outside of the hot summer months) and the area is home to some unusual things. From the higher points in the Gardens, Sydney’s CBD looms on the horizon and in the opposite direction are the Blue Mountains. Close by you look over pockets of suburbia as Sydney expands ever further towards Canberra. This is Sydney’s southwest, and if you keep your head down, i.e. not looking to the horizon, you could be a million miles from anywhere. Set in 416 hectares of hills and lakes, the Australian Botanic Garden displays over 4000 plants and features the odd outdoor sculpture blended in to the landscape. The Human Sun Dial and the Blue Tree as well as pockets of species-specific forests make the Garden an interesting place for a cycle, walk or picnic. Amongst it all and not far from the PlantBank (a research laboratory) is Melaleuca House, which acts as a cafe, restaurant and function centre. It’s built for all temperatures in mind: comfortable and cosy inside, covered seating on the deck and a relaxed and shady courtyard so parents can keep an eye on kids in the nearby playground. The jumbo scone makes up for a double serving and is surprisingly soft and fluffy, tasting, as it should rather than how it looks (like a bread roll). Although the jam is sweet and sickly, the thickly whipped cream is a bonus and helps boost the overall quality of the spread.
Tea: Several choices of pyramid tea bag tea served in a small pot.
Overall: A surprisingly pleasant urban escape.
Location: The Australian Botanic Garden, Mt Annan Dr, Narellan NSW 2567 Ph: 02 4648 3318
Reviewed July, 2014