Macquarie Place Park

Location: Bridge Street, Sydney
The tiny triangle of greenery that is Macquarie Place Park was once the lower corner of a garden used to grow the produce for the Governor's table. Facing the Governor's wharf on Sydfney Cove (much reclamation has resulted in the watefront being some distance away today), it was from this spot that Governor Macquarie first measured distances within the colony of New South Wales in 1818 and commissioned Francis Greenway to design and build a sandstone obelisk to record those distances. To this day, Macquarie Place is the reference point from which all road distances in Australia are measured.

Macquarie Place Obelisk:
Constructed by Sydney's foremost master Stonemason, Edward Cureton, at a cost of £85, the obelisk's carefully hand carved letters and numerals reflect the limits of the little colony at that time, recording the mileages to Bathurst, Windsor, Parramatta, South Head and North Head of Botany Bay. Greenway's original plan had the obelisk sited in he middle of the park - not off to one side as it now is - with pathways setting out the north, south, east and west axes, somewhat like a compass.

Commissioner Bigge, sent from England to review Macquarie's governorship of the colony following complaints, arrived in Sydney as the obelisk was nearing completion and included it among his list of Macquarie's alleged financial extravagances. Macquarie's justifiably indignant response described it as a "little unadorned obelisk ... and rendered at a trifling expense."

Though Bigge had arrived too late to stop the obelisk's erection, he stopped the construction of the gardens and pathways which were never completed. Today the obelisk still stands in Macquarie Place Park, but off to one side, pride of place being granted to an anchor and cannon from the first fleet flagship, HMS Sirius.



HMS Sirus anchor and cannon:
As the flagship of the First Fleet which brought the first convicts to New South Wales which led to the stablishment of Sydney, HMS Sirius has a unique place in Australian history. Originally built as the commercial trader Berwick in 1780-81, she was purchased for the Royal Navy but then laid up between 1781 and 1786. Renamed HMS Sirius and refitted for the role as armed escort and Flagship to the First Fleet, she sailed from Portsmouth on 13 May 1787, arriving at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788 where the colony of Sydney was established.

The Sirius also assisted in the transport, establishment and supply of the harsh penal colony on Norfolk Island in March 1790. During the discharging of supplies on 19 March, off Kingston, Sirius was washed onto a reef and lost without loss of life. It took nearly two full years for her to break up and disappear from view.

Several anchors from the Sirius were later recovered, one of these being displayed outside the Maritime Museum at Kingston on Norfolk Island. Another is mounted at Macquarie Place in Sydney, with a ship's cannon, to commemorate the significant role Sirius had played in the First Fleet and British settlement of Australia. A third is on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney. Several cannons were also recovered form the Sirius wreck, including that displayed along side the anchor at Macquarie Place. HMS Sirius is further commemorated amongst the Sydney Ferries where the current fleet includes ferries named after a number of the 11 vessels that comprised the First Fleet.

Thomas Sutcliffe Mort statue:
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort is remembered as one of Sydney's leading lights in the business world of 19th century Sydney. He arrived in the colony in 1838 when he was in his twenties. When his employer went to the wall, Mort went out on his own, carving out a name for himself as a leading importer/exporter, who is still remembered in Sydney's nomenclature - Mortdale, Mort's Dock and Goldsborough Mort. The statue, the work of sculptor Pierce F. Connolly, was erected after Mort's death and was unveiled in June 1883 by the Governor, Lord Loftus. It is located over the road from the office where he spent most of his working life. It stands where a drinking fountain was erected by Governor Macquarie to a design by Francis Greenway. The fountain became a target of Commissioner Bigge, a lawyer sent out by the British Government to report on Macquarie's governorship, who used it as an example of Macquarie's waste of public funds on unnecessary buildings and public utilities.





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