while I walk in the frosty morning air -- passing beautiful horses and barren trees. In the deep chill and dim sunlight I think about what may come . . a new place or activity. . . a new friend to meet over coffee. . . an earthy Hawkesbury red (Bull Ridge Estate or Tizzana wines) to sample. . . a new exciting read and or a new BBC mystery to watch while rugged up in a blanket, with flickering candles keeping the darkness at bay. Ah, the joys of winter. . .

 

SYDNEY POLO CLUB

 

Address: 100 Ridges Lane, Richmond
Phone: 02 4588 5000

Early every Thursday, the Sydney Polo Club opens its gates to the community for a free walking group - an hour-long walk escorted by staff. Walkers meet at Sunnybrook Barn at 8:30am for an 8:45am start. No matter the season, the walk is invigorating and fun.

The terrain is primarily level, so the walk is easy, but be forewarned, these walkers do not dawdle. One would say, a spirited pace is de rigueur.

 

What better way to kick off than through a grove of stately trees, past newly cut paddocks, a lovely lagoon, all with a view of the Blue Mountains? Your companions along the way - probably looking for a bit of exercise - are fine polo ponies. The ponies (horses, really) move in groups to the fences surrounding their paddock. Beautiful woeful eyes and long sleek noses, these are magnificent animals.

 

 

A highlight of the walk is the finish through the stables. Immaculate and pristine - well, only one touch of poo disturbed the otherwise spotless floor. These stables are fit for the kings and queens of the equestrian world.

 

My companion-walkers volunteered that in each season, the landscape is stunning - autumn brings an array of beauty when the leaves change colour. In winter, a frosty morning makes for a magical fairyland in the paddocks. Spring and summer, the skies are brilliant blue and the walkers keep coming.

 

You are also invited - Thursday mornings, meet at the office gate for an 8:45am start! A great way to begin your day in such stunning environment!

 

Scenes of the Hawkesbury are beautiful in the stillness of winter: the mountains of Mount Tomah, the rolling hills of Kurrajong and Freeman's Reach or the winding sandstone roads of Wisemans Ferry. The river sits silent and dark, awaiting spring. 

 

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  Blue Mountains Botanical Garden -- Mount Tomah

 

Address: Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah
Phone: 02 4567 3000
Hours: Open daily 9.30am-5.30pm
Free entry, free picnic and BBQ facilities

 

Mount Tomah, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden continues to be a favourite with visitors to Sydney. Set along Bells Line of Road and above Bilpin, Mount Tomah is the cool-climate garden and one of many sites of the Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands. 'Cool' because it sits 1000 metres above sea level. 'Cool' because this 28-hectare garden features plants, trees and flowers of the southern hemisphere mountains - botanical life that is simultaneously tough and colourful.

 

This is a beautiful garden with blooms year-round. The plant and tree life is so diverse that we recommend a free volunteer guided walk, which is available most days at 11.30am for individual visitors. Bookings are recommended, so call in advance to confirm a guide is available. However, should you forget to call, the $5 Garden Shuttle takes a 20-minute tour of the garden and is led by a garden expert. This option provides a great overview before setting out to explore the gardens on your own.

 

To make garden life even more interesting, plants and trees from the mountain ranges of China, Japan, Chile, Korea and North America are clustered as 'plant communities' in separate gardens.

 

You won't want to miss the Jungle Walk, 33 hectares of pristine rainforest. Along half a kilometre of graded paths you'll find magnificent sassafras and coachwood trees, diverse plant and animal life.

 

Picnic tables and electric barbecues are available as well as areas for private hire around the garden. Perfect for a family get-together.

 

 

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