Botanic Gardens and The Palace
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.
Charles 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
The Garden Palace
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,
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.