Agathis robusta
Queensland kauri pine

Dorothee Nijgh de Sampayo Garrido, 2014. © The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

Elizabeth Bay House seen from Arthur McElhone Reserve 

The garden estate established from 1826 by Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay was renowned as one of Sydney’s loveliest – a ‘botanist’s paradise’ blooming with plants introduced from around the world. Today traces of this once-famous garden can be found through the streets of Elizabeth Bay.

Photo © Leo Rocker for Sydney Living Museums.

Queensland kauri pine and hoop pine (obscured), Elizabeth Bay

With their lush evergreen foliage and dramatic symmetry and scale, rainforest trees such as the Queensland kauri pine and hoop pine were fashionable choices for wealthy Victorian gardeners. Kauris were introduced to Sydney gardens in the 1850s, some 25 years after the hoop pine.

Photo Helen Curran © Sydney Living Museums.

Aerial view of Elizabeth Bay House (detail)
J M Leonard, from The Home, 1 October 1936
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

Following the 1882 subdivision of Elizabeth Bay House estate, elements of Alexander Macleay’s terraced garden, including a grotto and decorative stonework attributed to architect John Verge, were incorporated into the gardens of newly built villas. The circled tree, which still stands today, is a kauri pine that likely predates the estate’s subdivision.

Demolition of garden elements at Elizabeth Bay
Lindy Kerr for the Department of Planning, 1969
Sydney Living Museums

The kauri pine at Elizabeth Bay was planted in proximity to a natural rock grotto with ornamental detailing, including a carved niche dated 1835, and a rustic stone bridge – both original elements of Alexander Macleay’s garden estate. The grotto and kauri survive; the bridge (above, foreground) was destroyed in 1969–70 to make way for apartments.

Queensland kauri pine

Agathis robusta