Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney

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The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney is the most central of the three major botanical gardens open to the public in Sydney. The gardens were opened in 1816, and are managed by the same trust that manages the adjoining The Domain. The gardens are open every day of the year, and access is free.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia

Situated east of the Sydney Opera House, and overlooking Farm Cove, the gardens occupy 30 hectares in area, and are bordered by: the Cahill Expressway to the south and west, Art Gallery road to the east, and Sydney Harbour to the north.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia

The Botanic Gardens were founded on this site by Governor Macquarie in 1816 as part of the Governor's Domain. Australia's long history of collection and study of plants began with the appointment of the first Colonial Botanist, Charles Fraser, in 1817. The Botanic Gardens is thus the oldest scientific institution in Australia and, from the earliest days, has played a major role in the acclimatisation of plants from other regions.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia

After a succession of colonial botanists and superintendents, including the brothers Richard and Allan Cunningham, both also early explorers, John Carne Bidwill was appointed as the first Director in 1847. He was succeeded the following year by Charles Moore, a Scotsman who had trained in the Botanic Gardens of Trinity College, Dublin. Moore, Director for 48 years (1848-96), did much to develop the Botanic Gardens in their modern form.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, Australia

The Botanic Gardens once housed a zoo. The zoo was Sydney's first and operated in the Gardens from 1862 until 1883, when most of it was transferred to Moore Park. During these years much of the remnant natural vegetation of the surrounding Domain was removed and planted as parkland. The Moreton Bay Figs, one of the major elements of this planting, continue to dominate the landscape. In 1879 a substantial area of the Domain, south of the Government House stables, was taken for the building of the Garden Exhibition Palace.

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