The amazing hoverchair


The Ivy, Sydney


Another visit to The Ivy. Last night it was raining hard and the open courtyard makes the glamorous staircase a death trap. Moving between floors is going to be an issue for The Ivy patrons and I predict that there will be a constant queue on the staircase, this is not helped by some very poor design work. As you get to the bottom of the staircase you are forced either left or right of a pillar. Left takes you straight up onto a few steps and right takes you unimpeded. Either way it’s going to create a bottleneck whenever the place is busy.

The staircase, whilst beautiful is going to cause problems.

Tip: Most of the upper level is guarded by bouncers, they will initially try and turn you away unless you say that you have a booking and then you’ll go straight through.

Once upstairs we looked for a seat and found the beautiful mirrored table which essentially acts as a reception area in front of the lifts, we sat and were promptly moved on. “You can’t sit here” Oh ok, where do you suggest? No ideas were forthcoming.

Now, good customer service would have meant that we would have been taken to another seat and asked for our drinks order, but apparently The Ivy doesn’t need to have manners. If I had to pay off $150m I’d be extremely polite.

 Standing and watching the crowd it is clear that many people are coming in for a look and then leaving without buying drinks. I’d see this as a major problem. Sort out the service and create a welcome. The Ivy is gorgeous but it’s attitude stinks. I demand immaculate service and I demand it now.

Time Out Sydney


Please visit Time Out Sydney for the best editorial content in the city.

The best breakfasts, best roof bars, top 50 restaurants…and an awful lot more. The website goes into a lot of detail.

I shall remind you every day…

Dictionary of Sydney


What is the Dictionary of Sydney?

If it happened in Sydney, it belongs in the Dictionary

The Dictionary will represent Sydney’s story online as one of the windows into the permanent historical digital repository we are building. The Dictionary website will be a forum for public discussion and controversy, an aide to teaching and learning, and a source of information and entertainment. Innovative in technology because it has been born digital, the Dictionary of Sydney will be like no other city encyclopaedia in the world.

It will contain…

Dreamings, habitats, suburbs, houses, beaches, bridges, crimes, speeches, urban myths, characters, political players, artists, intellectuals, sports people, protests, communities – anyone and everything that has contributed to the history of the place we now call Sydney. The Dictionary’s materials will include:

  •  thematic essays from noted experts
  •  interesting pieces on well known and unlikely topics
  •  entries on people, events, organisations and places
  • stories and images from our readers and volunteers
  • oral histories, photographs and artistic representations
  • material about important documents and artefacts
  • sound and moving images.

All of these will be richly contextualised and mapped in space and time, connecting to and through each other to form the overall picture.

Old Sydney Burial Ground

From the City of Sydney website…


Archaeological Works Underway

Recent archaeological investigations associated with the Sydney Town Hall upgrade have uncovered evidence of the Old Sydney Burial Ground that was formerly on the site. The cemetery was in use from 1792 to 1820, but was exhumed in 1869 to make way for the Sydney Town Hall.

A Public Open Day was held on Tuesday 22 January 2008 so members of the public could view the excavation site. Read more below.

Follow this link to read a short history on the Old Sydney Burial Ground. An inventory of names of the 2266 people buried in the cemetery between September 1792 and September 1820 has been compiled by the council from historical sources and can be downloaded. Presentations delivered at a public information session in September 2007 can also be found below.

Public Open Day

An archaeological excavation beneath the Sydney Town Hall commenced on Monday 7 January 2008, as the first stage of a five-year rescue plan for the historic building. The excavation, which has been approved by the NSW Heritage Council, will create space for an essential plant and equipment room to house services required for the building to meet modern fire safety standards. A Public Open Day was held on Tuesday 22 January 2008 so that members of the public could view the excavation site and meet the archaeologists.

The City of Sydney has appointed archaeologists Dr Mary Casey and Tony Lowe of Casey & Lowe Pty Ltd to direct the excavation works. The graves are being excavated in line with Heritage Council guidelines and the excavation is expected to take six weeks to complete.

Preliminary archaeological investigations indicated that there were remnants of a number of graves in the basement area belonging to the Old Sydney Burial Ground. Graves in the area were largely exhumed in the 1880s when the Peace and Centennial Halls were built.

The archaeological excavation currently underway will record the remnants of any graves that may have been missed. Of the 53 grave sites identified 12 were found to contain bone fragments during preliminary investigations.

The archaeological excavation covers about half of the area of the Peace Hall.

View of the extent of the archaeological excavation beneath the Peace Hall, Sydney Town Hall, 22 January 2008.

Archaeologists were at work during the open day, measuring and recording the graves.

An archaeologist from Casey & Lowe Pty Ltd recording a grave during the open day.

The graves are on a similar orientation facing east west. The outlines of former coffins and graves could be clearly seen in the soil.

Photo showing the orientation of graves.

There are a number of smaller grave cuts, indicating the graves of infants. This photograph shows the excavation of a grave of an adult and infant buried together. Bone fragments have confirmed this was the grave of a woman; she probably died during childbirth.

Photograph showing the grave of an adult and infant buried together.

After the fieldwork is completed, a full report documenting the graves and analysing the finds will be prepared for the City of Sydney and the Heritage Council of NSW. It is hoped that information gathered and artifacts found during the excavation process will contribute to our understanding of early colonial life and death in Sydney.

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Previous Archaeological Discoveries

This is not the first time that evidence of the Old Sydney Burial Ground has been uncovered.

This plan shows the location and distribution of graves of the current archaeological excavation (in green) in relation to previous finds in 2003 (in turquoise), 1991 (in red) and 1974 (in black) and overlaid with the building footprint of the town hall.

Plan showing the location of graves uncovered in current and previous archaeological investigations. Plan prepared by archaeologist Tony Lowe, Casey & Lowe Pty LTd.

Plan prepared by archaeologist Tony Lowe, Casey & Lowe Pty Ltd.

Photographs and artifacts from previous archaeological discoveries in 1991 and 2003 were also on display at the open day.

Artifacts from archaeological discoveries in 1991 and 2003 were on display at the open day.

Headstone fragment, commemorating Elizabeth Steel, died 1795.

Partial headstone, uncovered in 1991, inscribed: “In Memory of Elizh Steel died ……….. 1795 Aged ……”

Elizabeth Steel was a convict who was transported to Australia on the ‘Lady Juliana’, arriving June 3, 1790. She died in 1795 soon after completing her sentence on Norfolk Island. Her burial at the Old Sydney Burial Ground was recorded on 8th Jun 1795. She was 29 years old.

Fragment of a headstone with only the word Regt. (ie Regiment) legible. Found in 2003.

Headstone fragment, recovered in 2003 near Druitt Street, with the word Regt (ie. Regiment) visible.

The Old Sydney Burial Ground buried both the convict and free population. There were no apparent denominational divisions, but some social distinctions were maintained in the spatial organisation of the cemetery. Early Sydney residents recalled that the military were buried in certain parts of the cemetery. The corner close to Kent Street hosted graves of the non-commissioned officers of the 46th and 48th Regiment. Over in the south-west corner near the Presbyterian Church, soldiers of the 73rd Regiment were buried. And in the ground fronting George Street, near Druitt Street, were buried some non-commissioned officers of the NSW Corps.

Headstone fragment, recovered in 2003.

Headstone fragment, recovered in 2003 near Druitt Street. The words ‘Faithful’ and ‘Peaceable’ are clearly visible. This was part of an epitaph.

For more images and information related to the Old Sydney Burial Ground, follow this link to the short history of the Old Sydney Burial Ground. It includes suggestions for further reading. You can also listen to audio presentations by Dr Lisa Murray, Dr Mary Casey and Dr Denise Donlan.

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Was your ancestor once buried here?

Records relating to the Old Sydney Burial Ground are scant. No dedicated burial register or plan for the cemetery has survived and possibly never existed. No records were kept of where burial sites were located. Nearly 140 years later, the challenge has been to resurrect the names of those buried in Sydney’s first official cemetery.

An inventory of names has been compiled by the council from historical sources and can be downloaded. This is the first time that a consolidated list of burials for the Old Sydney Burial Ground has been produced.

Was one of your ancestors buried in the Old Sydney Burial Ground? The City’s History Program is always happy to receive biographical information about persons formerly buried on the site. Information will be placed on file in the City Archives. Send information to

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Inventory of Burials

This is the first time that a consolidated list of burials for the Old Sydney Burial Ground has been produced. The inventory identifies the names of 2266 people that were buried in the cemetery between September 1792 and September 1820. Another 90 names have been flagged as possible burials in the cemetery; research to date has been unable to confirm in which cemetery these burials occurred, but they fall within the timeframe of when the cemetery was active.

The inventory was painstakingly extracted from St Phillip’s Parish Registers (the only parish at Sydney during this period) and then cross referenced with other primary and secondary sources, including contemporary diaries, newspaper reports, and the Thomas D. Mutch Index to NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages 1787-1956.

The inventory is presented in three main sections according to burial status. First up is a list of names of those who were buried in the cemetery (burial), the majority of which probably never had a headstone. A small percentage of graves had headstones, some of which were recorded in one form or another for posterity. These persons are confirmed burials in the cemetery. This is the second section (headstone), starting on page 64. Finally, there are a number of deceased persons falling within the timeframe of when the cemetery was active, but the historical record is either too vague or not there to confirm with any certainty whether they were actually buried in the cemetery. These are flagged as possible burials, starting on page 71. The first three burials that took place in 1819 at the new cemetery (while the original cemetery was still open) are also identified at the end of the spreadsheet.

Within each section, the inventory is in alphabetical order by surname, and adopts the spelling and burial dates as shown in the St Phillip’s Parish Registers. Each entry records the name, date of burial and age at time of death (where available).

The type and clarity of the information recorded in St Phillip’s registers varies from year to year. For example, sometimes the age at time of death is noted, sometimes not. And there are some significant gaps in the registers. The records were poorly maintained between October 1800 when the Reverend Richard Johnson departed for England and when his successor, the Reverend William Cowper, arrived in the colony in August 1809.

The process of cross-referencing the parish registers with other sources identified a number of burials not recorded in the parish registers. Several of the names recorded by headstone transcriptions in contemporary diaries and later newspaper reports did not appear in the parish registers. A small number of Jewish burials did not appear in the parish registers.

Sixty three names can be connected to documentary or material evidence of a headstone. On these figures, less that 3% of the burials were marked by a headstone. This figure is no doubt conservative (vandalism of the cemetery was rife following its closure in 1820) but it supports the picture painted by contemporary descriptions of the cemetery; the vast majority of graves were unmarked.

Research revealed variations in the spelling of names, and conflicting dates of burial and ages. These variations are noted in the index. Other information, such as date of death (as opposed to burial date), social status of the individual at time of death (convict, free, soldier), and details of any headstone transcriptions, was collated where available. All this additional information has been recorded in the final column of the consolidated list of burials and references provided so that researchers can go back to the original sources. Every effort has been made to identify and eliminate duplicate burials due to variations in the spelling of names, but some duplicate listings may remain.

The Inventory of Burials in the Old Sydney Burial Ground, 1792-1819, has been provided to assist family historians with their research. Please note that the City of Sydney does not hold any original records relating to the Old Sydney Burial Ground and cannot undertake historical research on individuals buried in the cemetery. The St Phillip’s Parish Registers can be consulted at the State Library of New South Wales and the Society of Australian Genealogists, as well as at regional repositories around New South Wales that hold the Archives Resources Kit produced by State Records.


Sydney Opera House – original model

Photo Journal: Long-Lost Model of Sydney Opera House Found and Rebuilt

It was like a crystal palace … and it took on that sort of legend. A long-lost acrylic architectural model of the Sydney Opera House has been found and reconstructed, after languishing in storage crates for three decades. The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the model’s re-assembly earlier this month.

The world-famous icon was designed by Danish architect J�rn Utzon in the late 1950s. Construction began in 1959 and was completed in 1973, though Utzon resigned in 1966 after clashing with government officials over the cost and feasibility of the project.

Following Utzon’s departure, model builder Bill Lambert (who died in 1988) was commissioned by the New South Wales state Department of Public Works to build a three-dimensional model of the building based on approximately 8,000 detailed architectural drawings.

Lambert began work on a detailed model that year (1966), as a way of testing how heating, cooling and ventilation would work in the days before computer modeling and graphics were available to do the job. According to the Herald, it took Lambert seven years to build his model, which is 4.5 meters long, three meters wide and 1.8 meters high. The material used was Perspex, a semi-transparent acrylic that can be shaped when heated.

Just as the unique sail-shaped roofs of the Sydney Opera House challenged the builders and engineers, reproducing their design caused Lambert problems. The scale roof took two years to build, according to The Australian. It was only completed after Lambert discovered how to use several ovens to mold Perspex, then newly-developed, into the necessary shapes.

The model was sent to the 1974 Washington World Expo and had not been seen since — until 2002, when the NSW Dept. of Public Works came across the model in storage crates, which were turned over to the Sydney Opera House Trust.

Lambert’s masterwork had been disassembled into 1,600 pieces (out of a total of 2,500), but there was no ‘how-to’ assembly plan stored with them. The SOH Trust was faced with what The Australian called “the ultimate IKEA nightmare.”

A local firm called Porter Models painstakingly figured out how to repair and rebuild the model, assembling it more or less like a jigsaw puzzle — a task that took 2,000 hours over three months. Now, according to a spokesperson for the Sydney Opera House Trust, the model, once disassembled, can be put back together in about two days.

Sydney – history of street names

bridge street  

A Guide to Sydney City Street Names

The history of street names in the old city core of Sydney is fantastically complicated. While careful mid-nineteenth century plans of Melbourne and Adelaide resulted in a reasonably stable street layout and street naming, Sydney’s streets have been the subject of ongoing modifications, alterations and confusions. Many streets have disappeared, been realigned, or renamed; while many others are being created.

In 1995 the council published a guide to street names researched by City Historian Shirley Fitzgerald. It was a valuable resource for local and urban historians and has been out of print for several years. Since the local government amalgamations in 2004, further research has been undertaken by Lois Sabine to incorporate all the streets in the former South Sydney area and the Glebe. This updated guide to street names is now presented in a new format: a searchable spreadsheet.

The original introduction to Sydney Street’s: A Guide to Sydney City Street Names written by Shirley Fitzgerald is reproduced as a pdf document. It comments upon some trends in Sydney street naming and re-naming, and the vagaries of the records.

Sydney’s Streets video

City historians Shirley Fitzgerald and Lisa Murray chat about the evolution of Sydney’s streets and their names. The video features historic photographs from the City of Sydney Archives.

A note on sources

This guide has been compiled from a number of sources including old maps, council records, government gazettals, and secondary sources.

The guide to street names is inevitably always in draft. While every attempt has been made to identify all current and former streets, there will always be gaps. New information regularly comes to light and it is intended to update the spreadsheet accordingly.

Information on lesser known names will almost certainly only come to light from family knowledge and personal archives – like the claim that Daniel Outtrim (Outram Street) was an engineer at the nearby Kent Brewery (information from Stella Green, Lindfield). Or the observation that near Bathurst Street between George and Pitt Streets (named for King and Prime Minister) there is Wilmot Street, named for a convict who ran a public house there for many years (information from Rian Willmot, Cherrybrook).

Readers are very welcome to provide comments, corrections or new information. Correspondence should be directed to Lisa Murray, Historian,

Guide Format

A Guide to Sydney City Street Names is presented with the following fields:

Name: Street name. The guide is by default sorted alphabetically by street name but can be searched or sorted by other fields.

Status: C = current street; R = renamed; D = disappeared

Location: Locality in which the street is/was located.

Postcode: Postcode area in which the street is/was located.

Map & Grid Reference: The map & grid references refer to the grid in Sydways street directories, which is utilised across the entire council GIS system.

Notes: Brief information about name origins, gazettal dates, cross references to other street names etc.


Sydney history – The Month of February


11 February

St James’ Church, Sydney, designed by Francis Greenway, is consecrated by the Rev. Samuel Marsden.

St James Church, 1969

St James Church, 1969 (City of Sydney Archives, CRS 871/55)


25 February

T. S. Mort begins building a dry dock (Mort’s Dock) at Balmain, Sydney. Mort’s Dock is completed in 1855.


9 February

John Robertson replaces Henry Parkes as Premier of NSW.


10 – 12 February

Run on the head office of the Savings Bank of New South Wales in Sydney, depositors withdrawing their funds in gold.


9 February

The word “cobber” first appears in print in the Bulletin.


6 February

Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club founded in Sydney. Bondi lays claim to being Australia’s (and the world’s) first surf lifesaving club; however this is disputed by Bronte who had set up a life saving club (without the word ‘surf’ in its title) in 1903.



Influenza pandemic causes the closure of theatres, libraries, churches, and schools in New South Wales . The wearing of masks is made compulsory.


4 February

A shark fatally attacks a young lifesaver, 16 year old Milton Singleton Coughlan, at Coogee Beach , Sydney, just prior to the commencement of a surf carnival. 6000 terrified onlookers on the beach watch as Jack Chalmers and Frank Beaurepaire (an Olympic champion) bravely rescue the boy from the shark’s jaws. Coughlan dies soon afterwards in hospital. The Sunday News ( 5 February, 1922 ) reports:

 Jack Chalmers pointed to his Digger’s badge.

 “It’s the spirit of this that made me do it,” he said. “When I saw a mate in danger I acted first and thought afterwards.”

Jack Chalmers

Jack Chalmers. (City of Sydney Archives, Newsclippings W 207)


6 February

Black Sunday, perhaps the most famous rescue operation of the Bondi Surf Life Saving Club. Freak waves drag hundreds of people out to sea at Bondi and life savers rescue more than 300 people.


3 February

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip arrive in Sydney to begin an Australian tour, the first by a reigning monarch.

The Log Arch on Macquarie Street. The Arch was part of the decorations prepared for the Royal Visit of 1954

The Log Arch on Macquarie Street. The Arch was part of the decorations prepared for the Royal Visit of 1954. (City of Sydney Archives, SRC1632).


25 February

Sydney’s last tram leaves from La Perouse.


25 February

Fire destroys Sydney’s Lyceum Theatre


14 February

Elton John, British singer, marries Renata Blauel at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Darling Point, Sydney.

Detail view of carved sandstone head, St Mark's Church (1848), Darling Point, 2001-2

Detail view of carved sandstone head, St Mark’s Church (1848), Darling Point, 2001-2 (City of Sydney Archives, Gary Deirmendjian: ‘Sydney Sandstone’ Collection: 20798)


This Month In Sydney’s History is drawn from the following source material:

  • News clippings and scrapbooks, City of Sydney Archives.
  • Graeme Aplin, S. G. Foster, Michael McKernan (eds.), Australians: Events and Places, Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, Sydney, 1987.
  • Anthony Barker, What Happened When: A Chronology of Australia From 1788, rev.ed., Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2000.
  • Bryce Fraser (ed.), The Macquarie Book of Events, Macquarie Library, McMahons Point, 1983.
  • Graham Jahn, Sydney Architecture, The Watermark Press, Sydney, 1997.

Sydney – architecture walks


The Sydney Architecture Walks {SAW} explore ideas through architecture, offering an interface between in-depth architectural knowledge and the wider design-conscious community. Each route is driven by certain themes and ideas and attempts to decode the city whilst stimulating new ways of thinking about and seeing Sydney.

SAW 1 – Sydney
Moving from the broad to the particular, the historic to the contemporary, SAW1 conjures a heady urban narrative revealing the social, cultural and topographic patterns and forces which have shaped Sydney. We will concentrate on two contemporary iconic structures; Aurora Place and Governor Phillip and Macquarie Towers, and the work of three architects; Renzo Piano, Richard Johnson & Jørn Utzon.
Renzo Piano is a virtuoso in the world of architecture and someone deeply imbued with a craftsman’s sense of materials. The Aurora Place office and apartment buildings are his first Australian and his first high-rise structures.
Our study of these remarkable buildings works on many levels. We will explain Piano’s environmental and social agenda, the irony of using a suburban–inspired material palette in the most corporate of environments, and the ways in which his apartment building does at a large scale what Aussie icon Glenn Murcutt does at a small scale in terms of specific environmental response. You will also discover the many subtle and intriguing ways in which Piano establishes a dialogue with the grand old lady down the road; his soaring ghostly–white facades playing mainsail to Utzon’s billowing spinnakers.

The black-suited Melbourne firm Denton Corker Marshall’s tall, dark and handsome Governor Phillip Tower + Museum of Sydney will be explored, the ideas and concepts behind the buildings discussed. The building was designed by Richard Johnson who with Utzon and his architect son Jan, is slowly realising modifications to the Opera House interior [see SAW2].
> Led by Eoghan
> when > Every Wednesday at 10.30 am. See dates for our full timetable + details. To download upcoming dates as a pdf click here. To download SAW routes map click here
Related articles
>Renzo Piano
SAW 2 – Utzon
Both an in-depth and textured portrait of enigmatic Danish architect Jørn Utzon, as well as the story of the 20th Centuries greatest architectural project, SAW2 draws the listener into the amazing visionary world of the architect of the Sydney Opera House.
His work was beautiful yet transcended the purely aesthetic. He worked hard yet projected the image of a balanced life. He benefited from ancient precedents whilst formulating innovation, proclaimed himself a ‘builder’ more than an architect, and prior to his ground breaking competition victory in 1957, he had only ever built a few small houses.
Discussing the sources of the young architect’s deepest inspiration, his working methods and influences, we chart the development of Utzon’s ideas and their realisation in the platform, concrete shells and ceramic skin of his Sydney Opera House. You will discover the influence of towering 20thC figures like LeCorbusier, Alvar Aalto, Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe and even Picasso on Utzon’s ideas, his strong connection to the brilliant & enigmatic Antonio Gaudi, as well as the ways in which his work was at once utterly contemporary yet drew many of its ideas from the architecture of the ancients.
Booted out in 1966 by the irrascible Askin government, Utzon considered the six years he spent developing the interiors of the House, none of which were realised, the most productive of his career. Using discarded drawings and models, the unrealised acoustic shells and Utzon’s hanging curtains of bronze & glass will be revealed, and you can judge for yourself how much Sydney lost when he was forced to leave the building half-finished. Malice in blunderland* indeed!
SAW2 finishes with the new Utzon interiors, some of which are complete and others still on the drawing board.
* A bitter pun summarising the situation surrounding Utzon’s forced resignation | Jørn Utzon
> Led by Eoghan
> when > Every Saturday at 10.30 am. See dates for our full timetable + details. To download upcoming dates as a pdf click here. To download SAW routes map click here
Related sites Related articles
>Utzon Associates
>Unfinished Business
>Sydney Opera House >Encore Maestro
>Wolanski Foundation >Return of the Master Builder
>2003 Pritzver Prize Laureate >Utzon remasters his vision
>Kingo Houses >Utzon Breaks his Silence
>Utzon Sketches >Utzon gives Opera House…
>Max Dupain photographs  
SAW 3 – Harbourings
Join us on this stroll around Sydney’s spectacular harbour edge, from Circular Quay, through the city’s great depository of memory, The Rocks, up Observatory Hill and on to Walsh Bay. The route is diverse, spectacular and full of surprising recent projects as well as gritty historical reminders of the cities industrial/maritime past.
Getting beyond the post–card view of the city and its two shimmering icons, SAW 3 reveals the city at her rawest and most spectacular, her most self–conscious and most corrupt. Beginning with Circular Quay, where the powerful forces of commerce are held back from the harbour by that bland concrete motorway – the Cahill Expressway – we will discuss Utzon’s vision for the Quay, controversial plans for the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Toaster and explore the beautiful ferry terminal conversion by Queensland duo Lindsay + Kerry Clare. The radical Sirius Apartment building by Tao Gofers and Lippmann Associates KGV Sports Hall will also be discussed.

SAW 3 focuses on the breathtaking early 20th Century Walsh Bay Finger Wharves, a family of timber wharves and shore sheds that extend out into Sydney’s harbour. They are the largest timber structures in the world, romantic symbols of Sydney’s maritime history and the first structures in Australia to be nominated as a World Heritage Site! Over the last few years the wharves and shore sheds have been reworked into a modern residential + cultural precinct by Bates Smart and HPA with the help of renowned French architect Phillipe Robert. We will move through this incredible development and discuss the ideas and issues behind their re–development.

SAW3 concludes at Walsh Bay so please allow a 10–15 minute walk back to Circular Quay.
> Led by Eoghan
> when > See dates for our full timetable + details. To download upcoming dates as a pdf click here. To download SAW routes map click here
SAW 4 Public: Art, Place & Landscape *

SAW4 examines the city through its evolving attitude to the design of it’s public domain, and the elements that they contain; art, architecture and landscape.

For the Eora people, the trees were an embracing home. For Europeans these same trees were full of mystery, shadows and darkness. Starting in the modern forest of concrete, skyscrapers and hard paved surfaces at Edge of Trees by Janet Laurence and Fiona Foley, we walk outwards to the green harbour wedge, through the Domain to the waters edge of Woolloomooloo Bay. The translucent Veil of Trees by Janet Laurence and Jisuk Han is the bookend.
We will map a living history on contemporary architectural, sculptural and urban projects, considering the role of art, architecture and design in the creation of some of Sydney’s best loved and most used public spaces. Particular attention will be paid to projects by Lin Utzon, Brett Whiteley, Janet Laurence, Hossein Valamanesh, Lippmann Associates, Simeon Nelson, City Projects, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, Harry Seidler, Tom Bass & Hassell Architects. We will also look at the new Art Gallery of NSW Asian Galleries extension by Johnson Pilton Walker.

> bring your swimmers > SAW 4 concludes at the Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton Pool on Mrs Macquaries Road, the Domain. Please allow 20 mins return walk to either St James, Martin Place or Circular Quay train stations. Pool entry is $5 for adults, and the pool is open until 8pm (October–April). Changerooms and lockers available. The 440 Sydney Buses route to Rozelle via the QVB departs from the front of the pool. Download bus timetable here.

> Led by Simeon
> when * This walk runs infrequently and on request.
See dates for our full timetable + details. To download upcoming dates as a pdf click here. To download SAW routes map click here
Related sites  
> Dom Baths and ABC Pool  
> Sydney Sculpture Walk  

Sydney – sculptures around the city

You don’t need to visit a museum or art gallery to see the best of Sydney’s sculpture. It’s on the street and it’s free

All the world may well be a stage according to Shakespeare, but in Sydney, all the city is a sculpture museum. The biggest and best known outdoor sculpture event is the annual Sculpture by the Sea. Staged along Sydney’s spectacular Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk during November, the free exhibition attracts more than 450,000 visitors and has exhibits by more than 100 artists from Australia and overseas. 

But there’s plenty of street sculpture to be found in and around Sydney’s streets, parks and gardens during the rest of the year.

Royal Botanic Gardens and the Domain

The Royal Botanic Gardens in the Domain have more than 35 fountains, sculptures and memorials. Wrapped around Farm Cove at the edge of Sydney Harbour, the Royal Botanic Gardens occupy one of Sydney’s most spectacular positions. Established in 1816, the land was, in colonial times, the Governor’s buffer of privacy between his residence and the penal colony. Roads and paths were constructed through the Domain by 1831 to allow public access and ever since, it’s been a place for the people.

There’s statues of some of our early governors and politicians, famous writers such as Henry Lawson and the three-metre-high bronze statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns and even one of Shakespeare as well as memorials to police officers who have lost their lives in the course of their duty.You can’t miss Brett Whiteley’s famous ‘redhead’ matches, one live and one burnt; the reclining bronze by English sculptor, Henry Moore, considered to be one of the greatest of all twentieth-century sculptors; and the soundscape installation by Nigel Helyer called Dual Nature, relating to the history of people and shipping in Woolloomooloo Bay with shell-like objects sitting on the seabed, held in place by crane sculptures mounted on the foreshore. The chambers create sounds from the ocean and mix with a solar-powered recording.

And of course, there’s Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a huge seat carved in an outcrop of solid stone at the northern most point of Mrs Macquarie’s Road in 1816, where the wife of Governor Macquarie liked to sit and watch the ships come in.

Also worth finding is Janet Laurence’s Veil of Trees, a meandering line of forest red gums with glass panels embedded with seeds, ash, honey, resin, and fragments of prose and poems by Australian writers, inspired by the landscape.

In and around the city centre

Janet Laurence, in collaboration with Fiona Foley, also created The Edge of Trees in the forecourt of the Museum of Sydney, the first public artwork in Sydney to be a collaboration between a European and an Aboriginal Australian. It’s a forest of 29 iron and wood pillars and symbolises the meeting of cultures that occurred on this site two centuries ago. Wander around and through the ‘forest’ and you’ll hear fragments of early Eora language.

In Martin Place you’ll find Passage, a water sculpture by Anne Graham. It consists of three bronze balls, reflection pools and fountains and an eerie mist that rises every 10 minutes from pavement grilles creating an illusion of the space once occupied by past residents, and often disrupting traffic on Macquarie Street if the wind is blowing the wrong way.

At the top of hill outside the Sydney Hospital, also on Macquarie Street, sits one of the city’s favourite statues, Il Porcellino, a wild boar. People from all over the world have solemnly rubbed his nose, made a wish, dropped a coin in his basket and had a photograph taken standing near him.

The original Il Porcellino statue is estimated to be over 500 years old, and was unearthed in Rome after having stood for more than 100 years in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence. The Sydney Hospital and Sydney Eye Hospital Il Porcellino, which is a copy of the original, was presented to the hospital in l968 by the Marchessa Clarissa Torrigiani in memory of her father and brother – Dr Thomas Fiaschi who died in 1928 and Dr Piero Fiaschi who died in 1948. Both had been renowned surgeons at the hospital.

In the foyer of Renzo Piano’s Aurora Place in Elizabeth Street you’ll find Tim Prentice’s wind-driven kinetic art piece Three Wheeler and Kan Yasuda’s massive marble boulder-like Touchstones.

One of the city’s more controversial sculptures is on the wall of the P&O Building in Hunter Street. Tom Bass’s fountain has been affectionately known as The Urinal ever since the satirists from the infamous 60s magazine Oz were photographed alongside the sculpture pretending to use it as a urinal. Bass has another sculpture at East Circular Quay which explores the role of industry and scientific research and the future of society, called Research 1959.

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney Olympic Park is home to the largest collection of large-scale site-specific urban art in a single precinct in Australia, with more than 50 single pieces of public art providing a unique record of the cultural history of the Sydney Olympic Park.This includes works relating to the early industrial uses of the site, through to the Olympic Games and the current development of the park as the home to a new creative community.

Favourites include Robert Owen’s Discobulus, a seven-metre wide discus; The Sprinter, a 12-metre-high, 3.5-tonne, three-dimensional steel rendition of an elite athlete that once adorned the top of the AMP tower in the lead up to the Olympics and Games Memories, an installation of poles incorporating Olympic memorabilia, visual art, audio-video presentations and volunteer names from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

More information

  • Royal Botanic Gardens: download a map to the fountains, sculptures and memorials at Botanic Gardens Trust
  • Art, Place & Landscape Walk: Sydney Architecture Walks (SAW) run regular guided walks that take in some of Sydney’s best loved and most used public spaces.
  • Tom Bass Sculpture Walk: Tom Bass is considered to be Australia’s most successful sculptor and has created some of the best loved, most talked about and symbolic sculptures in Australia. Guide yourself around his Sydney sculptures with a map from the Tom Bass Sculpture Studio School.
  • Sydney Olympic Park: Urban art at Olympic Park.