Feeling a little guilty about the amount of television Farley has been watching lately and also keen to fill another Saturday that Braino had to work, I decided to get out into nature and explore a park or garden. The Ku-Ring-Gai Wildflower Garden has been on my to-do list for quite some time and, it turns out, it’s perfect for some free range toddler nature exploration! The best part of the outing was the huge goanna we met - for our lizard obsessed toddler, this may have been the highlight of her life to date!
Our dog Costanza spends much of her day hunting skinks in our garden, much to the amusement of Farley, who has consequently become fascinated with lizards. It’s probably her favourite word to say. There is a large skink that seems to be Costanza's biggest adversary, I once found it’s tail in our lounge room! Yuck!! And then saw the tail-less skink narrowly escaping Costanza again the following day. Farley now thinks of these garden lizards as members of our family; for example when I list all the people in our family that love her she is always quick to add Lizards love Farley! Sure darling, the lizards love you too. (So adorable!)
Anyway, back to the Wildflower Gardens; I arrived with a picnic packed and Hallie sleeping snuggly in the Ergo Carrier, and was planning to do the Senses Track, however after ducking into the visitor centre and speaking to the delightful staff member, we were off in the direction of Lambert’s Clearing, which has a playground thats ideal for toddlers!
We walked to Lambert’s Clearing Picnic Area via the bitumen Solander Track, only 200m from where we parked, and saw the huge goanna lazily walking around the picnic area. At first I thought Farley might get scarred but she was in awe of it and proceeded to follow the goanna around, at a safe distance, waving and squealing Hello Lizard! The goanna was not fazed at all and hung around for a while, doing a few laps of the picnic area, before eventually slinky off into the bush. Of course Farley was curious to know where the lizard had gone so I convinced her to help me look for it in The Fern House and The Knoll; two fenced garden areas next to Lambert’s Clearing. She had fun wandering the paths and climbing over rocks but eventually realised the lizard was long gone and starting saying Farley go home now. So we ventured back to the car on an alternative route, via the Banks Track; along a dirt track, over rocks and along a boardwalk. It was only 200m and Farley was a little champion walking it all, but all the while she was saying Farley go home now. Farley watch a mooo-vie. I now know how my Dad must have felt when he’d take my siblings and I on bush walks most weekends of our childhood.
The Ku-Ring-Gai Wild Flower Garden offers so many toddler friendly ways to explore nature. Lambert’s Clearing has the playground, toilets and plenty of shaded picnic areas and with The Fern House and The Knoll right next to the clearing, you can enjoy a picnic lunch and explore so much in one area (there is a shallow unfenced pond in The Fern House and some of the rock steps in The Knoll are quite steep so full supervision is advised). There are a variety of short accessible walks you can do with a toddler and even a pram or bike, with a tracks like the Senses Track, the Solander Trail and The Brown Track being step free. And best of all, it’s free! No entry fee or parking fees.
Head to the website for information on scheduled events and activities - I’m keen to take Farley to one of the Toddlers and Tadpoles weekly playgroups.
TIPS AND INFORMATION
- Address: 420 Mona Vale Road, St Ives
- Opening hours: 8am - 5pm
- Dining: Best option is bring a packed picnic lunch or use one of the BBQs for a sausage sizzle. you can buy refreshments like drinks and ice blocks at the Visitor Centre.