This week, with the iconic Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens celebrating an important milestone over the recent June long weekend, it seemed the perfect time for Roy to revisit this beautiful parkland and garden. The Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the oldest Botanic Gardens in the Southern Hemisphere, and has just celebrated its bicentenary. This makes it even older the Kew Gardens in England!
If you would like to visit the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens (and Domain) they are located in Sydney. Being a huge area, they are bound by many different roads, but one of the major ones is Macquarie Street. The gardens are the perfect place to relax, enjoy a picnic, wander and soak up the beauty and history. If Roy is driving into the city to the Gardens, he usually parks in the Domain Car Park.
The Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens have a fascinating history, dating back right to the era before European colonisation. Before Europeans arrived, the area around Farm Cove and including the Botanic Gardens was known as Woccanmagully by the Cadigal people, who used the land as an initiation ground - an important place indeed. After Europeans arrived though, the area was soon taken over. Almost immediately, a small farm growing much needed grain was established on the site - hence the name ‘farm cove’. By 1802 the Old Government House, which once stood where the Museum of Sydney stands today was noted for its fine garden of native and exotic species. This garden included areas of what are now the Botanic Gardens. Other areas were still dedicated to food production. Yet in 1807 Governor Bligh began efforts to reclaim the Demesne, which we now know as the Domain. He began building roads and cleared many of the buildings.
Yet it was Macquarie who really began the process of establishing the iconic gardens. In 1810 he began a project to build walls around the area, complete the roads in the Domain and remove the remaining buildings. One of these roads, Mrs Macquaries Road, was completed in 1816 on June 13. Today, this is the date commemorated as the Foundation Day for the Botanic Gardens. Yet the area was not for the use of everybody and punishments were in place for those who were not deemed suitable visitors. The respectable residents of Sydney however were welcome to use the area. The first botanist associated with the gardens was Allan Cunningham who arrived in the colony in 1816. Yet it was Charles Fraser, who was formally appointed Government Colonial Botanist and superintendent of the Botanic Gardens in 1821 who had most influence. He began working on the gardens in 1817, and by 1820 had established a what was officially described as a ‘botanic garden’ which was separate from the Governors Kitchen Garden. In September 1831 the Domain area was opened to the General Public, though much of the Gardens was still reserved for the Governor and respectable classes. In December, Fraser died at just 43 years of age. For the next almost two decades many different men act as superintendent for the gardens, with some resigning and others dying in office. Then, in 1848 Charles Moore took over the position.
Come back next week to find out about the next era in the Botanic Gardens history