Australia’s oldest bridge revisited

Sometimes a friendly email brings unexpected genealogy bonuses. My Delaney (and Simpson) cousins are generous with their information about our ancestors, and one of the people who helped my mother and me with researching our book, A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798, got in touch recently about a visit he’d made to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

Back in December 2011 I asked a question: Did Nicholas build the oldest bridge in Australia? Evidence suggests that the Macquarie Culvert, in the Botanic Gardens, is indeed the oldest surviving bridge. True, it’s a small bridge, part of Mrs Macquarie’s Drive, the road Nicholas and his gang of labourers built around the Government Domain in 1816. But it’s still there, nearly 200 years later, and regarded as ‘significant’.

Macquarie Culvert in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens,, built by Nicholas Delaney's gang

The bridge – Macquarie Culvert (Jeff Farrar, 2013)

The trouble was, I couldn’t get hold of any pictures to show the bridge after its recent restoration. Then an email arrived from my Delaney cousin Jeff Farrar with some photos of his visit to the Botanic Gardens. “I thought you might enjoy this,” he wrote. Enjoy? I nearly jumped out of my chair with happiness. Jeff kindly gave me permission to post his pictures, so… here are some of them! It goes without saying they are all copyright to him. And wonderfully atmospheric.

Thank you, Jeff!

Macquarie Culvert in Sydney's Botanic Gardens,, second view

Macquarie Culvert, further away (Jeff Farrar, 2013)

For information about the Macquarie Culvert’s historical context see Wong, Anna, Colonial Sanitation, Urban Planning and Social Reform in Sydney in Australasian Historical Archaeology, 17, 1999, pp 66-7 (pp 9-10 of PDF)
Another view of Macquarie Culvert  in Sydney's Botanic Gardens, built by Nicholas Delaney and his gang

Another view of Macquarie Culvert (Jeff Farrar, 2013)


I was stunned, honoured and thrilled to find my name (my real one, Frances Owen) on the list of nominations for Genealogy Rockstars 2013, hosted by the excellent John Reid. Thank you! If you’d like to see the true megastars I’m privileged to be listed with, and/or vote, Anglo-Celtic Connections tells you how. But be quick! Polls close on Sunday. Update: John’s publishing the results daily. Several of my top faves are mentioned:

Worldwide gold medallists

Silver and bronze medallists

Votes from Australia/New Zealand

Votes from the UK and Ireland

Congratulations to all!

View of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney (Jeff Farrar, 2013)



 © Frances Owen and A Rebel Hand, 2010-2014

About rebelhand

A Rebel Hand is: about Nicholas Delaney, Irish rebel of 1798, transported as a convict to New South Wales, roadbuilder, innkeeper and farmer. My great-great-great grandfather. Other ancestors transported to Australia, like Sarah Marshall, John Simpson and James Thomas Richards, pop up as well. This blog's also about the historical background to their lives, in England, Ireland, and Australia. My respectable Welsh ancestors sometimes get a look in.
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4 Responses to Australia’s oldest bridge revisited

  1. Pingback: Ulva, Lachlan Macquarie’s birthplace | A Rebel Hand

  2. Catherine says:

    Newly discovered cousins sure can be an absolute joy Frances and are often able to share to most amazing of information… well that’s how it’s been for me with my Canadian cousins.
    Beautiful pics and many thanks to your cousin Jeff Farrar for his generosity of spirit.


  3. Pingback: Did Nicholas build the oldest bridge in Australia? | A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798

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