Celebrating 200 Years – Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens – Part 2

Botanical Gardens Sydney 3 Front

Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are an iconic green space, a place to relax and retreat from busy city life. This week, The Past Present is again celebrating the history of this beautiful Sydney space, examining the story of the gardens after their accepted Foundation Date of June 13, 1816.

Having been formally established as a parkland, the area were in need of men who could shape and design the gardens themselves. The earliest botanist associated with the gardens was Allan Cunningham who arrived in the colony in 1816, just as the roads of the gardens were completed. He was soon after appointed the ‘Kings Botanist’. Yet it was Charles Fraser, who was formally appointed to the role of Government Colonial Botanist and superintendent of the Botanic Gardens in 1821, who had the most influence. His work on the gardens began in 1817, and by 1820 had established a what was officially described as a ‘botanic garden’ separate from the Governors Kitchen Garden.

The fledgling gardens were, in these early times, very much the domain of the Governor and the ‘respectable classes’. In fact, there were originally punishments in place for those deemed unsuitable who entered the area! It was not until September of 1831 that the Domain area was opened to the general public, though much of the gardens themselves were still reserved for the upper echelons of Sydney society. In December, Fraser died at just 43 years of age. For the next almost two decades many different men acted as superintendent for the gardens, though they usually served for relatively short periods. Some of these men resigned their posts, but several also died while in office. Then, in 1848 Charles Moore, one of the men most famously associated with the gardens, took over the position.

Come back next week to find out about the next era in the Botanic Gardens history

Centennial Park And Busby

Centennial Park 2 Front

As the weather slowly, but surely, begins to turn towards cooler days, many Sydneysiders will be looking to take advantage of the Autumn weather and spend some time outdoors. Many will enjoy a picnic or two in the beautiful parks around Sydney. One of the most famous Sydney parks, and indeed one of the most celebrated is Centennial Park.

Centennial Park, also known today as Centennial Parklands, is one of Sydney’s older parks, and plays an important role in the history of Australia’s first European colony. When the First Fleet arrived in 1788, one of their first priorities was to find fresh water. They used the Tank Stream, but by the 1820s it was polluted and could no longer supply sufficient water for the needs of the colony. Governor Darling appointed John Busby as the Government Mineral Surveyor in 1824, and one of his first job was to locate another source of fresh water. He reported that the area then known as the Lachlan Swamps would be ideal, with their natural aquifers and marshlands to filter water. Busby determined that an underground tunnel or ‘bore’ could be constructed to take the water to the city, for distribution from what is now Hyde Park. Construction of the bore, known as Busby’s Bore, began in 1827 and was completed in 1837. The bore supplied water to Sydney up until 1859, when the swamps became too polluted to use any longer.

Come back next week to find out about how the swamp lands and Busby’s Bore was transformed into one of Sydney’s most famous parklands!