‘One of the most historically significant urban spaces in Sydney and Australia’.
That’s how another of Nicholas Delaney’s building projects has been described by New South Wales’s Office of Environment and Heritage.
It’s Macquarie Place.
Just over a fortnight after Nicholas and his men finished the construction of Mrs Macquarie’s Drive in the Government Domain on 13 June 1816, he was hard at work again for the Governor.
As Lachlan Macquarie records in his diary:
Monday 1. July !
This Day Nicholas Delaney’s Gang of Labourers commenced clearing and levelling that Piece of Ground in the Town of Sydney, adjoining the Government Domain called “Macquarie Place,” preparatory to its being enclosed by a Dwarf Stone Wall and Paling in the form of a Triangle!
Greenway eventually fell out of favour with Macquarie, but his buildings stand as a memorial to two singular-minded men – and to the labourers who carried out their vision.
Inscribed at the base of the obelisk is its purpose:
To record that all the
Leading to the Interior
of the Colony
are Measured from it.
And here are the measurements:
Distance from Sydney
to Bathurst } 157 Miles
From Sydney to Windsor 35 1/2 D
to Paramatta 15 1/2 ”
to Liverpool 20 ”
to Macquarie Tower
at the South Head } 7 ”
To the North Head
of Botany Bay } 14 “
So all roads from Sydney began from where Nicholas made his mark on the city.
Nearly 200 years later, this green space in the centre of Sydney still remains, a little smaller and now dwarfed by buildings.
But nothing should overshadow its significance in Australia’s history. As the Office of Environment and Heritage says:
“Although the original importance of Macquarie Place as the main town square of Sydney, the geographic and symbolic centre of the Colony, the setting to First Government House and the landmark qualities of Obelisk are now less apparent than in Colonial times due to the level of surrounding changes, the park and its monuments remain one of the few tangible links to this first Colonial town centre and thereby part of the earliest history of European settlement in Australia.”