During major conservation works at St Andrew’s Cathedral about 25 years ago, hoardings went up on the corner of George and Bathurst streets, behind the Chapter House. As anyone who knows the city will tell you, they’re still there.
“At one point, there was an informal, temporary playground in the space but essentially, it’s been a builder’s yard ever since,” says the Dean of Sydney, Sandy Grant. “The Cathedral garden project will finally remove the eyesore that has blighted our beautiful Cathedral for a quarter of a century.”
The community garden planned for the Cathedral is not the type with herbs and vegetables, but the kind where the church, school and community will be welcome.
“Instead of saying to a friend that you’ll meet them on the Town Hall steps before you go to the movies, you could say, ‘I’ll meet you in the Cathedral garden’,” the Dean says. “There will be places to sit, and places where it’ll be shaded and cooler. It will be one of the rare deep soil places of the city.”
"You could say, ‘I’ll meet you in the Cathedral garden’..."
The plan is not for the space to be open 24 hours a day. There will be a fence and gates that – at certain times – will be closed to the public, such as when St Andrew’s Cathedral School wants its Gawura Indigenous class to have an outdoor education experience, or if the Cathedral’s Sunday school group wants to hold a particular class outdoors. However, if there’s a community barbecue with the Cathedral’s community chaplain, the gates will be open and the barbecue will be held in the garden.
“It will be so wonderful to have an outdoor space that can be used for both Cathedral and school activities, and also be available as a passive, quiet, recreational space to members of the public during daylight hours,” Dean Grant says.
Funds are being raised to help bring the project to fruition, and he hopes the Cathedral’s ability to serve the city of Sydney can be enhanced in a way that doesn’t undermine other important ministries.
“We want to see new churches in new communities, my heart breaks for the many Anglican Aid projects sending support overseas, and we’d love to see CMS able to send more missionaries,” he says.
“Yet we also have unique opportunities in the heart of the city, where people come to us by choice... We want to introduce them to Jesus, and having an outdoor ministry space that’s both welcoming to the public and available to strengthen the Cathedral community will really enhance our ability to introduce people to Jesus, and be for the welfare of the city more broadly.”
See more information about the Cathedral’s community garden, the plans and the fundraising project.