Macquarie Obelisk

Macquarie Place, Obelisk

The Project

In 2003 Casey & Lowe were involved, along with conservator Anne Cummins, in the heritage analysis of the Macquarie Place Obelisk. Since that time the City of Sydney has undertaken extensive conservation of the obelisk. Dr Rosemary Annable researched and wrote an extensive chronology and history for this project. In addition, Dr Mary Casey, whose PhD research was on the Sydney Domain and the architectural taste of the Governor and Mrs Macquarie and the significance and meaning of the Sydney Domain, provided analysis of the obelisk and a Statement of Significance.

In March 2010 the Heritage Council of New South Wales listed Macquarie Place Precinct, which includes the Obelisk, on the State Heritage Register

Historical Background

Macquarie Place was established in 1810 on the site of an early leasehold to Shadrach Shaw (1794) when Governor Macquarie defined and named this place at the entrance to the Governor’s domain.

In 1810-12 the early guard house was demolished, along with other buildings within the place. Between 1810-1815 residences for the Judge-Advocate Ellis Bent (1810-12), the Governor’s Secretary, J.T. Campbell (1813) and Chaplain, the Rev. W Cowper (1815) were built along the southern side of the place. They were based on designs taken from pattern books Mrs Macquarie had brought into the colony.

Work on the making of Macquarie Place began in July 1816 by convict overseer Nicholas Delaney, shortly after he and his gang had finished making Mrs Macquaries Road. In September 1816 stonemason Edward Cureton was given a contract ‘to erect a very handsome Stone Obelisk in the Center of Macquarie Place, as an Ornament to this Part of the Town’ and also for the purpose of measuring the miles to all the interior parts of the Colony; plan and elevation supplied by Francis Greenway, Civil Architect.

The obelisk was completed by 1818 as the as official zero point marker for the measurement of roads in the colony.

Macquaries Obelisk (Macquarie Place), 24 Mar., 1926
Macquarie Obelisk / photographed by Harold Cazneaux
Macquarie Place Obelisk, 2009.


Casey & Lowe undertook this report for the City of Sydney.


The photographs and historic plans in the attached files are from the Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, and NSW State Records. Dr Rosemary Annable wrote the history for this project.


Heritage Branch Listing

Dictionary of Sydney


Macquarie Obelisk