QUA-RBG-01.jpg (71677 bytes) Sydney Architecture Images- Circular Quay and area

Royal Botanic Gardens




Mrs Macquaries Road (Gardens can be entered from behind Opera House, opposite the State Library, from Macquarie Street and from the Domain)


  Above- view from Shakespeare Place, opposite State Library
The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney occupy one of Sydney's most spectacular positions located around Farm Cove on the edge of Sydney Harbour. Established in 1816, it is the oldest scientific institution in Australia. There is much to see and enjoy for the plant and garden lover, including orchids, roses and the Bromeliaceae family. 

Choragic Monument. Carved (1870) in sandstone by Walter McGill, this Choragic Monument of Lysicrates is a scaled down replica of the original, erected in Athens in 334 BC.

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Buildings within the Gardens

1. Plant Sciences & Herbarium 
The Robert Brown Building (Herbarium) was opened in 1982 (during the administration of Dr L.A .S Johnson). The previous Herbarium (Maiden’s Herbarium/Anderson Building) was opened in 1901.

2. Maiden Theatre 
With the opening of the Robert Brown Building (1982) the rooms of the old Herbarium were available for different use. The lower ground floor of the eastern side of the old Herbarium was set aside as a large meeting and lecture room, and called the Maiden Theatre in memory of a previous Botanic Gardens’ Director, J.H. Maiden (Director 1896–1924).

3. Friends Office 
The Friends' office, just north of the Herbarium, and accessed from Mrs Macquaries Road, is in the southern of the Twin Cottages (Cottages 5 & 6). Strongly influenced by the Arts & Crafts style, these cottages were built in 1899.

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4. Tropical Centre 
The Sydney Tropical Centre, comprising the ‘Arc’ and the Pyramid glasshouses with a linking underground foyer, were opened in 1990. The Pyramid Glasshouse had been opened in 1972. 

5. Rose Garden Pavilion 
The Rose Garden Pavilion (previously called the Palace Garden/Chess pavilion) was built in 1897. A second, similar structure was built in Centennial Park in 1898.

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Conservatorium of Music 
The Conservatorium of Music, designed by Francis Greenway as stables for a proposed new Government House, was completed c. 1821. The stables became a Conservatorium in 1915. Expansive renovations, with underground soundproofed studios, were completed in 2001.

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Government House  
Government House, designed by Edward Blore in the Gothic revival style, was completed in 1845.

8. The Northern Depot 
A works depot that was built in 1916 at the south-western corner of the old Government House formal garden for management of operations in the newly acquired northern end of the Botanic Gardens. Utilitarian buildings comprising sheds, storerooms and staff amenities, have since been adapted, modernised and recycled for new uses.

9. Central Depot and Nursery 
Formerly the site of the Governor’s Kitchen Garden. The gardener’s house (cottage 4/Rathborne Lodge) is believed to date from 1856. It was occupied by various amenities during the International Exhibition of 1879 and brick stables were first constructed in 1878.

10. Domain Lodge & Domain Depot 
Domain Lodge (St Marys Lodge) was built as a gatehouse lodge in 1835. The Domain Depot was built at the back of the Lodge, date(s) unknown, and was substantially renovated in 2001. The Domain Lodge, now part of the Depot, was one of the oldest, or possibly the oldest, continually used residence in this part of Sydney.

11. The Sydney Fernery 
The Sydney Fernery was opened in 1993, and made possible as the result of a generous gift to the Gardens from the (Vincent) Fairfax Foundation. Other (earlier) ferneries had stood on this site.

12. The Palm House 
The Palm House (Orchid/Show House/Glasshouse 10) with its associated boiler room, probably designed by James Barnett, Colonial Architect, was opened in 1876.

13. Lion Gate Lodge (Cottage 2/Middle Lodge) 
A house for the Head Gardener that was built in 1878. Its name was changed to Lion Gate Lodge in 1979 (after the lion and lioness guarding the gate in the Macquarie Wall) when it was used as a residence for the Trust and the Friends of The Gardens.

14. Rathborne Lodge Cottage 4 
Rathborne Lodge is believed to have originally been built as a cottage for the Governor’s Gardener (Governor’s Kitchen Garden) in 1856. This cottage was renovated many times over the years. In 2002 it was transformed into Rathborne Lodge (to be used for Corporate events), following a bequest from the estate of Jack and Babs Rathborne.

15. Maiden Pavilion 
The Maiden Pavilion was designed by R.M.S. Wells, Government Architect. Dedicated 1930, in memory of former Director, Joseph Henry Maiden.

16. Vista Pavilion 
The Vista Pavilion is an octagonal shelter pavilion, designed by Walter Vernon, Government Architect, and built in 1907.

17. Botanic Gardens Restaurant 
The original Kiosk (Refreshment Room) designed by James Barnett, Colonial Architect, and built in 1886 was destroyed by fire in 1976.The Gardens Restaurant, designed by Andrew Andersons and David Churches, was built in 1978.

18. Pavilion on the Park 
The Pavilion on the Park was built in the 1960s and renovated in the mid 1990s.

19. Palace Gate Kiosk 
The Palace Gate Kiosk was built as part of the bicentennial developments in Macquarie Street (1988).

20. Victoria Lodge (Cottage3/Eastern Lodge) 
Victoria Lodge is a sandstone gatehouse, believed to be built c. 1893/5. Originally very small. Additions were made about 1870 and the western and southern wings were added in 1921.

21. Administration Buildings and Reception 
The Anderson Building (Maiden’s old Herbarium of 1901) is now used for administration as is the Cunningham Building (previously the Director’s Residence) designed by James Barnett, Colonial Architect, for Charles Moore in 1874.

22. The Gardens Shop 
In the Palm Grove Centre, a new information space, retail outlet, and public toilet, was opened in September 2000, just prior to the Sydney Olympic Games.

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23. The
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House was designed by the Danish architect Utzon, was opened in 1973, on Bennelong Point, on the site of the old Government Tram Depot.

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24. The
Art Gallery of New South Wales  
The Art Gallery of New South Wales was designed by Horbury Hunt, and substantially added to by Walter Vernon between 1896 and 1909. Many extensions have been made since then.

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25. The
State Library of New South Wales 
The State Library of New South Wales, with its Mitchell and Dixon Libraries, was built between 1910 and 1942. The Mitchell Library was built between 1904 and 1910. The greater complex was completed in 1942. New extensions were completed in 1988.

26. Macquarie Wall 
The Macquarie Wall in the Botanic Gardens, built 1810 – 1812, during Governor Macquarie’s time, is the last of the walls of the Macquarie era still existing.

Art within the Gardens

1. Robert Burns 
Bronze statue (2.9 metres high) by Frederick Pomeroy of Scottish poet Robert Burns on stone pedestal of Melbourne granite, mostly in the rough, with one polished course in the centre, 1905.

2. Viva Voce Installation ** 
Installation by Debra Phillips consisting of a red stepladder and five marble clad 'soapboxes' arranged amongst the trees at Speakers Corner in the Domain. Acknowledges the historical and contemporary importance of the area as a site of public oratory, as both the ‘living voice and democratic heart of the city’, 1999. 

3. Police Memorial Wall 
Memorial Wall to Police Officers who have lost their lives in the course of their duty, 1862–1998, erected 1999.

4. Almost Once *** 
Brett Whiteley sculpture of blackbutt timber and fibreglass consisting of two large ‘redhead’ matches, one live and one burnt, on a concrete base (conceived in 1968 and finished in 1991).

5. The Offerings of Peace and War *** 
These two massive sculptures – the Offerings of Peace and The Offerings of War – are both the work of the English sculptor, Gilbert Bayes (1872–1953), 1926.

6. Henry Moore Reclining Figure *** 
The reclining bronze is by the English sculptor, Henry Moore (1898–1986), considered to be one of the greatest of all twentieth-century sculptors. The original plaster was made in 1975. This cast was purchased from the artist in 1981. 

7. Sir John Robertson 
Bronze statue of the politician Sir John Robertson who, as Lands Minister, approved the opening of the Domain at night to pedestrians in 1860. The statue, paid for by public subscription, was unveiled in 1904. 

8. Lewis Wolfe Levy Fountain 
Art Nouveau fountain by C.B. Birch surmounted with a bronze statue of a young girl with a heron and reeds and frogs at the base. Commissioned by the family of politician and businessman Lewis Wolfe Levy, 1889.

9. Henry Kendall Seat 
Art Deco style seat commissioned by Mrs A. Hamilton-Grey and designed by Wilfred Rhodes in memory of the poet Henry Kendall. The winged horses were carved by L. Bicego, 1939.

10. I Wish Statue 
Pink concrete head of a girl by Arthur Fleischman, commissioned by Leo Buring, and mounted on a sandstone plinth (site of the first Wishing Tree), 1946.

11. Henry Lawson Statue 
Bronze statue of Australian poet and short story writer Henry Lawson (plus swagman, fence post and dog) by George Lambert, 1931.

12. Veil of Trees ** 
Installation by Janet Lawrence and Jisuk Han. The passage of glass panels and new tree planting's reflects the botanical history of the Domain whilst rejuvenating species that were once found in the area. Consists of a meandering line of forest red gums with glass panels embedded with seeds, ash, honey, resin, and fragments of prose and poems by Australian writers, inspired by the landscape, 1999. Janet Laurence also created 'The Edge of Trees' in the forecourt of the Museum of Sydney.

13. Archaeology of Bathing ** 
Water installation by Robyn Backen tracing the outline of the former Domain Baths for ladies and relecting upon the cultural attitudes towards bathing in Sydney at the time. The installation also signifies tidal movements and the naval presence across Woolloomooloo Bay.

14. Dual Nature ** 
Soundscape installation by Nigel Helyer, relating to the history of people and shipping in Woolloomooloo Bay. Hybrids of marine, industrial and natural forms cling to the shoreline, transmitting ambient sounds, 1999.

15. Mrs Macquaries Chair 
Seat carved in outcrop of solid stone at the northern most point of Mrs Macquaries Road, 1816, where the wife of Governor Macquarie liked to sit and watch the ships come in.

16. Fleet Steps and Queen Elizabeth II Memorial 
Steps constructed in 1908 to welcome the Great White American Fleet to Sydney. The adjacent wall commemorates the location where Queen Elizabeth II first set foot on Australian soil (asphalt) in 1954.

17. Boy with Thorn 
Damaged marble copy of ‘Boy with Thorn’ statue, imported from Italy, 1883.

18. Choragic Monument 
Carved sandstone replica of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, executed by Walter McGill for Sir James Martin, Premier of New South Wales, 1870, for his residence in Macleay Street. Presented to the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1943.

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19. Mare and Foal 
Bronze mare (La Reyna) and her foal by the French artist, Arthur J. le Duc, purchased in 1891, and donated to the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1958.

20. Magnolia (Seed) and Palm ** 
Metal pair of overscaled seed-like sculptures by Bronwyn Oliver, nestled beneath a magnolia and a palm tree in the Gardens are placed adjacent to the site of the First Farm in Sydney Cove. The forms reflect the ‘organic flotsam washed up by the tide, blown by the wind, and laden with the potential for transformation and new life’, 1999.

21. Earthmother 
Figurative sculpture by Helen Leete, from earth and sand laid in strata, imitating natural rock, 1993.

22. Satyr 
Bronze cast of Frank ‘Guy’ Lynch’s 1924 sculpture modelled from the artist’s brother, whose death inspired Kenneth Slessor to write his poem ‘Five Bells’, 1977.

23. Memory is Creation without End ** 
Spiral of sandstone blocks by Kimio Tsuchiya, relics of demolished buildings symbolising the circular connection of past, present, and future, 2000.

24. Venus ‘Italica’ 
Marble replica of the Venus ‘Italica’ by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova.

25. Sensory Fountain 
A spherical fountain designed to be touched, seen and heard — water begins to flow as you approach. Designed for the Herb Garden in 1994 by Victorian artist Tim Jones and made by Dave Mune at the Art Foundry in Victoria. The fountain is surrounded by a bronze ring of herbs drawn by Gardens’ illustrator Marion Westmacott. Donated by the Australian Bank Ltd to commemorate their 10th anniversary and the 175th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

26. Herb Garden Sundial 
A splendid armillary sphere sundail, 2.4 m tall, 1.5 m internal ring diameter, weighing 1500 kg and made of silicon bronze, was designed specifically for the Herb Garden by John Ward and Margaret Folkard (Sundials Australia, Adelaide) in 1994. Features herbs modelled in clay in high relief by Adelaide sculptor Karen Rumpf from drawings by Gardens’ illustrator Marion Westmacott. Both sundial and herb ring were cast by Dave Mune at the Art Foundry in Victoria. The sundial is dedicated to the memory of the late Malcolm Arnott (1910–1991).

27. Herb Garden Birdbath 
Designed and made in 1994 for the Herb Garden by sculptor Peter Mueller and commemorating Hope Clayton (1907–1991), a friend of the Gardens.

28. Sweep Boy and Linda da Chamonix 
Marble Victorian-era pair of statues of a young girl with a scarf, clogs and musical instrument and a sweep boy from the Donizetti opera ‘Linda da Chamonix’, written in 1842. These statues have been in the same place in the Gardens since the 1880s. 

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29. The Boxers 
Two-metre high marble copies of ‘The Boxers’ by Antonio Canova. This pair of statues has also been in the Gardens since the 1880s.

30. Huntsman and Dogs 
This recently restored statue by the French sculptor A. Jacquemart is ‘imitation bronze’ — an iron casting on which copper has been deposited by electrolysis. It was cast by the Val d’Osne Company c. 1879.

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Governor Phillip Fountain 
Massive sculpture and fountain by the Italian sculptor Achille Simonetti, unveiled during the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations (ie. 60 years) of the reign of Queen Victoria, 1897. 

32. Morshead Fountain 
Fountain in memory of Lieutenant-General Sir Lesley Morshead (knighted for his defence of Tobruk in World War II) and the men who served with him, 1966.

33. Shakespeare Memorial 
Bronze memorial to William Shakespeare, consisting of group figures (about 2.5 metres high) of some of his more famous characters, surmounted by a 2.75 metre statue of the poet and playwright, 1926.

34. Governor Bourke Statue 
Bronze statue of Governor Richard Bourke by E.H. Bailey (once near site of Shakespeare Group), 1842.

35. Wuganmagulya 
This work in Farm Cove by Indigenous artist Brenda L. Croft in 2000 comprises terrazzo and stained concrete insets into the pathway depicting figures from Sydney rock carvings, some of which are now lost. Etched in red along the kerb are the names of people, places, animals, tools and rituals from the many groups of Indigenous people in the Sydney area. The work marks the historic and continuing importance of Indigenous people to this area.

The Gardens are located at:

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Mrs Macquaries Road
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9231 8111 / 02 9231 8125
Fax: 02 9231 8054 
Visitor Centre/Gardens Shop: 02 9252 8701
Website: http://www.rbgsyd.gov.au/  
How to get there 
Buses operate to the Gardens, and there is metered parking and car parks.
You can get a train to St James, Martin Place or Circular Quay railway stations and walk to the gardens
before 1788
The local Aboriginal inhabitants, the Cadigal, used the tidal area along Woccanmagully (Farm Cove) for an initiation ground and the 'Kangaroo and Dog Dance'.

The Sydney Domain was set aside in 1788 by Governor Phillip as his private reserve and the First Farm established adjacent to Farm Cove

c. 1808
Governor Bligh attempted to reclaim the Domain, leading up to the Rum Rebellion.

Botanic Gardens founded on this site by Governor Macquarie

Charles Fraser appointed first Colonial Botanist

John Carne Bidwill appointed first Director of Botanic Gardens 

Charles Moore appointed new Director (held position until 1896)

Sydney’s first Zoo opens in the Botanic Gardens

Garden Palace (Exhibition Pavilion) constructed in the Domain

Fire destroys Garden Palace

New Herbarium opened in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Institution granted the title Royal Botanic Gardens 

Robert Brown Building opened to house the Herbarium

Opening of Mount Tomah, cool climate garden in the Blue Mountains

Opening of Mount Annan, native plant garden south-west of Sydney

Rose Garden opens in Royal Botanic Gardens

Tropical Centre opens in Royal Botanic Gardens

Fernery opens in Royal Botanic Gardens

Herb Garden opens in Royal Botanic Gardens

HSBC Oriental Garden opens in Royal Botanic Gardens

Rare and Threatened Plants Garden opens in Royal Botanic Gardens

Cadi Jam Ora: First Encounters Garden opens

Royal Botanic Gardens 
The first farm on the Australian continent, ‘nine acres in corn’ at Farm Cove, was established in 1788 by Governor Phillip. Although that farm failed, the land has been in constant cultivation since that time, as ways were found to make the relatively infertile soils more productive.

The Botanic Gardens were founded on this site by Governor Macquarie in 1816 as part of the Governor’s Domain. Our long history of collection and study of plants began with the appointment of the first Colonial Botanist, Charles Fraser, in 1817. The Botanic Gardens is thus the oldest scientific institution in Australia and, from the earliest days, has played a major role in the acclimatisation of plants from other regions.

After a succession of colonial botanists and superintendents, including the brothers Richard and Allan Cunningham, both also early explorers, John Carne Bidwill was appointed as the first Director in 1847. He was succeeded the following year by Charles Moore, a Scotsman who had trained in the Botanic Gardens of Trinity College, Dublin. Moore, Director for 48 years (1848–96), did much to develop the Botanic Gardens in their modern form. He boldly tackled the problems of poor soil, inadequate water and shortage of funds to develop much of the Gardens in the form we see today. The Palm Grove, in the heart of the Royal Botanic Gardens, is a reminder of his skill and foresight, as is the reclaimed land behind the Farm Cove seawall which added a significant area to the Royal Botanic Gardens.

In 1862 Sydney’s first zoo was opened within the Botanic Gardens and remained there until 1883, when most of it was transferred to Moore Park. During these years much of the remnant natural vegetation of the surrounding Domain was removed and planted as parkland. The Moreton Bay Figs, one of the major elements of this planting, continue to dominate the landscape.

In 1879 a substantial area of the Domain, south of the Government House stables (now the Conservatorium of Music), was taken for the building of the Garden Exhibition Palace. This building, ‘an outstanding example of Victorian architectural exuberance, with towers and turrets deployed around a giant dome 100 feet in diameter surmounted by a lantern 200 feet above the ground’, dominated Sydney’s skyline and covered over two hectares. The International Exhibition held in the Palace attracted over one million visitors. However, the building was destroyed by fire in 1882 and the land, now known as the Palace Garden, was added to the Botanic Gardens.

Towards the end of his time as Director, Moore, together with Ernst Betche, published the Handbook of the Flora of New South Wales, further establishing the Botanic Gardens as a centre for the science of botany.

Moore was succeeded by Joseph Henry Maiden who, during his 28-year term, added much to Moore’s maturing landscape. He organised the construction of a new herbarium building, opened in 1901 (today part of the Anderson Building), and made major improvements to the Domain. However, the Botanic Gardens suffered from loss of staff positions during the First World War and, in the depression of the 1930s, the position of Director was lost. Both the Herbarium and the living collections languished. From 1945 Robert Anderson worked to reunify the two. In 1959 the title ‘Royal’ was granted and the Herbarium and Royal Botanic Gardens were administratively reunified under the title Royal Botanic Gardens. Knowles Mair (1965–70) achieved reunification and the Royal Botanic Gardens began its return to eminence.

In 1982 the new Robert Brown Building was opened to house the Herbarium. In 1986 Professor Carrick Chambers became Director and retired ten years later.

Dr John Beard (1970–72) and Dr Lawrence Johnson (1972–85) further developed the organisation, and the Robert Brown Building was opened in 1982 to house the Herbarium. The breadth of activities increased over these decades with the formation of the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens; educational and ecological programs; the Flora of New South Wales; the scientific journals Telopea and Cunninghamia and programs of computerised documentation of both the living and herbarium collections. 

Other initiatives, the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden (1987), Mount Annan Botanic Garden (1988) and the Tropical Centre (1990) glasshouses, were opened to the public after Professor Carrick Chambers became the ninth Director in 1986. The Royal Botanic Gardens celebrated its 175th anniversary in 1991. During Professor Chambers’ ten years as Director, the Rose Garden (1988), the Fernery (1993), the Herb Garden (1994), and the Oriental Garden (1997) were opened and the Rare and Threatened Species Garden (1998) was commenced to further enrich the experience of visitors. The Royal Botanic Gardens Foundation was established to seek a wider range of support for future needs. 

In 2003 the business name of the organisation, comprising the three Botanic Gardens and the Domain and administered by the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, was changed from the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney to the Botanic Gardens Trust.

The present Executive Director is Dr Tim Entwisle.

The Domain
The Sydney Domain was set aside in 1788 by Governor Phillip as his private reserve. It covered the area east of the Tank Stream to the head of Woolloomooloo (Walla Mulla) Bay and contains the site of the first farm in Australia. The farm had been established for growing grain, but was soon moved to Parramatta, because of the poor sandy soil. The Farm Cove (Woccanmagully) area was then leased out for private farming for the next twenty years. 

Governor Bligh attempted to reclaim the Domain c. 1808, leading up to the Rum Rebellion. Governor Macquarie completed this task, extending the roads and gardens started by Bligh, and enclosing the Government Domain with stone walls and paling fences. The traditional foundation date of the Botanic Gardens is taken as the date of completion of Mrs Macquaries Road, on 13 June 1816. An enlarged and reorganised Gardens were opened to the general public in 1831. 

Over the years the Gardens grew as the Domain was slowly whittled away, but remained an important buffer to the Gardens. The native vegetation was cleared and the gullies of Phillip Precinct filled. During the 1830s the expansive green space of the Domain was now opened to the public, who strolled and picnicked there. The Domain west of Macquarie Street was then sold to pay for the construction of new Government House and Circular Quay. 

In the 1850s the Domain was used for military, sporting, and ceremonial events, and was subsequently used for soap-box oratory and political meetings. From 1860 the Domain was opened up at night to pedestrians, allowing people to use this valuable recreational space on summer evenings. It became known as `the Park where the Gates Never Close’. Carriage traffic however remained restricted after dusk for many years. 

The growing city of Sydney put great pressure on the Domain. A major encroachment was the construction of the Garden Palace for the International Exhibition of 1879. In more recent years the problems have come from the motor car, with the building of the Cahill Expressway and the Domain Parking Station. The Cahill Expressway destroyed the close spatial relationship between the Gardens and Domain. It has now been proposed to reclaim the green link between the Art Gallery and Woolloomooloo Bay (as part of the revised design for the Eastern Distributor). 

The Domain is administered by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. It is vital we preserve what remains of the Domain as a green haven in our city. 

Reminding us of the early days, Mrs Macquaries Point and Chair mark one of the sought-after photographic spots in Sydney with views across the Harbour to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The Governor’s wife had the chair carved out of the rock so she could sit and observe the passing ships. Above the chair is an inscription recording the completion of Mrs Macquaries Road on 13 June 1816. 

First Fleet Steps is the point where Queen Elizabeth II first set foot on Australian soil, and a commemorative wall plaque marks the event. The site is often used for large marquee functions with stunning views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Thanks to http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/royal_botanic_gardens