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The site of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney has significant examples of the early history and development of Sydney since European settlement.
This walk is self-guided, takes about one and a half hours, and returns to the Palm Grove.
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1. The Palm Grove
The first palms were planted here in 1862, under the developing canopy of rainforest trees planted by Botanic Garden's Superintendent, Charles Fraser in 1828.
2. Queensland kauri Agathis robusta
The magnificent kauri in the middle of this bed was planted in 1853. It is one of the tallest trees in the Garden.
3. River oak Casuarina cunninghamiana
The two fine specimens of ‘river oak’ on the western side of the Palm Grove are named after Allan Cunningham, an explorer, botanist and early Director of the Garden.
4. Palace Garden Steps
At the top of the steps are two delightful statues, Linda da Chamonix and the Sweep Boy, inspired by characters from the 1842 opera, Linda da Chamonix, by Donizetti.
5. The Boxers
Lawns 9 &15
These two statues are copies from the original by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova. The original marbles, completed in 1802, are now in the Vatican Museum.
6. The Pioneer Memorial Garden
Part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of Australia in 1938, this garden was built on the site of the central dome of the Garden Palace. The massive Palace, opened in 1879, was completely destroyed by fire in 1882.
7. Governor Phillip Fountain
Fountain and statue to Governor Arthur Phillip (1738-1814), by the Italian sculptor Achille Simonetti, 1897.
8. The Palace Garden Gate
This ornamental gate was built in 1889 to commemorate the International Exhibition, a very popular ‘expo’ of its time.
9. Boston’s Windmill
Three windmills once existed on the high ground in this area. The plaque near the Huntsman and Dogs statue indicates the position of a privately owned windmill built for John Boston in the late 1790s.
10. Conservatorium of Music
Originally designed by colonial architect Francis Greenway as stables for a new Government House, it became the Conservatorium of Music in 1915.
11. Nellie Stewart Memorial
The plaque on the eastern edge of the Herb Garden is dedicated to the Actress Nellie Stewart, born in Woolloomooloo in 1858, who held the affection of her audiences for 50 years.
12. Kangaroo and Dog Dance Site
Band Lawn 24
At the head of Farm Cove (near the Palm Grove Centre) was an Aboriginal ceremonial ground. This was documented as the site of the Kangaroo Dance and the Dog Dance, in which young Aboriginal men had a hole bored in their nose to hold a bone or reed.
13. Allan Cunningham Memorial
The obelisk in the pond was erected to the memory of Allan Cunningham in 1844.
14. Royal Trees - broad-leaved paperbark, Melaleuca quinquenervia, and cabbage tree palm, Livistona australis
These trees were planted in 1881 by Prince George (later King George V) and Prince Albert Victor of Wales respectively.
15. Replacement Wishing Tree Norfolk Island pine - Araucaria heterophylla
This replacement Wishing Tree was planted in 1935, when it became apparent that the original Wishing Tree (see stop 26) was dying.
16. ‘Swamp Oaks’ Casuarina glauca
These ‘swamp oaks’ are suckers from original trees that grew on this site. The adjacent pavilion was erected in 1929 in memory of a former Botanic Garden's Director, Joseph Henry Maiden.
17. Original Gum Tree - forest red gum Eucalyptus tereticornis
This tree remnant is part of the native vegetation of the area. From time to time it has been a home to bees, cockatoos and parrots. Now known as Yurabirong it has been carved by Aboriginal custodians of this cove.
18. Bunya bunya pine - Araucaria bidwillii
This species was named after John Bidwill, Director of the Botanic Garden in 1847.
19. Lion Gate in Macquarie Wall
The Lion Gate in the 1812 Macquarie Wall was created in 1901. The stone piers (dated 1864) come from the old Victoria House entrance. The statues of the Lion and Lioness were presented to the Botanic Garden in 1912 from the estate of Edward Sanders.
20. Spring Walk
Beds 39 & 42
Azaleas were first planted in the beds south of the Macquarie Wall in 1856, during the time of Botanic Garden's Director Charles Moore. Since then, the ‘Spring Walk’ has become a much loved horticultural feature of the Garden.
21. Sydney’s First Zoo
The Succulent Garden was built on the site of Sydney’s first zoo. An aviary had been built here as early as 1856. Most of the non-avian creatures were taken to Moore Park in 1883.
22. Museum and Lecture Hall
The original one-storey building, with the words ‘Museum and Lecture Hall’ above the doorway, was completed in 1878. The second stage of the building was completed in 1899 (and officially opened in 1901).
23. Royal Tree - Chrysophyllum imperiale
This rare Brazilian rainforest tree with large leaves, was planted by Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1868.
24. Solander Garden Bed 13
This garden is dedicated to the Swedish botanist, Daniel Solander, who accompanied Joseph Banks and James Cook to eastern Australia in 1770.
25. Chinese fan palms - Livistona sinensis
Beds 18b & 19
Imported in tubs from the Isle de Bourbon (Réunion Island, Indian Ocean), these palms were planted in December 1840.
26. Site of Original Wishing Tree
The I Wish statue commemorates the original ‘Wishing Tree’, a Norfolk Island pine, which was removed in 1945. One of the world’s rarest trees, the Wollemi pine, (discovered in 1994), has now been planted here.
27. Cadi Jam Ora - First Encounters
The modern transformation of the Australian continent began in this Botanic Garden, and can be regarded as the ‘first frontier’ between Aboriginal and European societies. This four-bed display conveys Aboriginal people’s prior use of the site and their understanding of plants and the environment.
28. Grave of Joseph Gerrald
The Scottish Martyr and barrister, Joseph Gerrald, was a political prisoner, convicted of ‘sedition’ and transported for 14 years. He was permitted to farm here, and was buried somewhere between the site of the Wollemi pine and the creek.
29. First Farm in Australia plaque
Governor Arthur Phillip established a Government Farm here in 1788, as the name of the nearest bay (Farm Cove) commemorates today. Governor Macquarie transformed the site into a Garden, (1816), making this the oldest continuous garden in Australia.