Postcards from 100 years ago



Botanic Gardens and The Palace Gardens

The Sydney Domain was set aside by Governor Phillip as his private reserve and Arthur Phillip’s personal servant, Henry Edward Dodd, established a small grain farm at the site of the future Royal Botanic Gardens. The first grain was harvested in July 1788. However most of the crop failed due to being planted out of season, being eaten by rats and the poor soil. By January 1789, Dodd had moved to Parramatta.   

310 Botanic GardensCharles Fraser, the chief botanist (1817-1831),  asked for botanical books to be sent from England, including Brown’s Prodromus. By 1820 Fraser had created a ‘botanic garden’, quite separate to the Governor’s kitchen garden nearby 

In 1831 the Domain is opened for ‘carriages’, and effectively ‘open to the general public’. 


The Gardens foundation day is traditionally 13 June 1816 when Elizabeth Macquarie’s road to her ‘Chair’, a carved rock ledge at the Point, was completed. The new Road ran along the new Wall that bounded the new Garden within the Governor’s Domain. A remnant of Macquarie Wall begins just past the Gardens Shop after you cross the creek on the oldest culvert in Australia – also built by Macquarie’s road gang. If you walk along the harbour side of the Wall you will be treading the route of the original Mrs Macquarie’s Road now in the middle of the Gardens 

The Garden Palace

177 Palace Gardens

178 Palace Gardens

The Garden Palace was a large purpose-built exhibition building constructed to house the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by James Barnet and constructed by John Young, despite the architect's reservations ,  at a cost of 191,800 Pounds in only eight months - largely due to the special importation from England of electric lighting which enabled work to be carried out around the clock. 

The Garden Palace was sited at what is today the south western end of the Royal Botanic Gardens (although at the time it was built it occupied land that was outside the Gardens). It was constructed primarily from timber, which was to assure its complete destruction when engulfed by fire in the early morning of September 22, 1882. 

The only extant remains of the Garden Palace are its carved Sydney sandstone gateposts and wrought iron gates, located on the Macquarie Street entrance to the Royal Botanical Gardens. A 1940s-era sunken garden and fountain featuring a statue of Cupid marks the former location of the Palace's dome. Few artifacts from the International Exhibition survived the fire, one of which is a carved graphite statue of an elephant, from Ceylon, now in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum. 


181 Palace Gardens; Publisher = Melba Series

180 Palace Gardens; Publisher = Melba Series

Sydney's Garden Palace; an architectural drawing from the 1870s.




   Contact Us

   Privacy Policy

   Site Map