The Macquarie St Historic Precinct
The Macquarie St Historic Precinct is named after Governor Lachlan Macquarie (1810–1821) who was instrumental in setting the course of development for the burgeoning colony.
Why go there
Macquarie Street is named after Governor Lachlan Macquarie (1810–1821) who was instrumental in setting the course of development for the burgeoning colony. The street was designed as a ceremonial thoroughfare leading from the harbour to the vast expanses of Hyde Park and the Domain. Macquarie commissioned the design and construction of Sydney's magnificent public buildings, many attributable to convict architect Francis Greenway.
Visitors can explore the colony’s beginnings by visiting Macquarie Street and its many wonderful buildings including: The Sydney Hospital, Hyde Park Barracks, State Library of New South Wales, Parliament House, St. James’ Church and St Mary's Cathedral.
This overview includes information on Hyde Park and The Mint – formerly The Rum Hospital.
The historic sandstone buildings which comprise Macquarie St.
The joy of Hyde Park on a sunny day and a meal or coffee in the café
Undertake a self guided or guided tour to learn more about a young colony
Visit any of the main buildings and even take a tour
Access for all
Macquarie St slopes quite severely up from Circular Quay to the intersection with Bridge St where the gradient levels out. Traffic lights control each intersection but not all have audio signals and tactile indicators are not installed.
The best access point to Hyde Park is from the north at Macquarie St. A wide tree lined boulevard leads to the Fairfax Fountain. It has become a meeting point for Sydney’s workers at sunny lunchtimes.
A large open area just south and east the settlement was favored as a recreation area, similar to commons in the United Kingdom. It is named after the Hyde Park in London. A place for playing fields, stray dogs, cattle, goats, sheep and other animals it was used as a race track, cricket field, rugby pitch, other sports and as a military training area. It remains a place of recreation with sweeping lawns and large shady fig trees. A number of monuments have been placed within its boundaries; Archibald Fountain, statue of Captain Cook and at the southern end, the ANZAC War Memorial.
Access into the historic Mint building is up the front steps or via a ramp at the side of the building. The Mint was part of Governor Macquarie’s General Hospital, and better known as the Rum Hospital because a monopoly on rum importation paid for its construction between 1811-1816. In 1853 approval was granted to open the first branch of the Royal Mint outside England, hence the change of name for the building. It now houses the offices of the Historic Houses Trust, exhibition area on the ground level and café on the upper level. No lift or accessible toilets.
Sydney Hospital was Australia's first hospital, dating back to 1788. It's Macquarie St location reflects Governor Macquarie's desire for a hospital for the colony which resulted in the "Rum Hospital", which opened in 1894. The original hospital's north wing is now Parliament House and the south wing is now The Mint. Florence Nightingale was behind the establishment of the first
Visitors can take a tour however, discuss access needs when booking.
An excellent cafe is available in the courtyard overlooking the The Robert Brough Memorial Fountain. And an accessible toilet is available at the entry to the Casualty area.
Several self Guided tours are available but they may not be easy to locate:
A Self Guide to Macquarie St is available on the State Parliament website, best to search for History Bulletin 8 (PDF 420Kb), or scroll through Education Resources where History Bulletins 1 through 8 can be found. Each offers an historic insight into Parliament House and the operations of Parliament.
An interesting Closed Captioned virtual tour of Macquarie St forms part of the Virtual Tour page of the Parliament House website (click on Engaging with Parliament, the Virtual Tour).
The City of Sydney publishes several walking guides on the website. Download the Community walking tour (PDF 650Kb) which starts at Town Hall and finishes at Hyde Park.
Eating and shopping
Cafes are located at the following Macquarie St locations:
- InterContinental Hotel,
- Museum of Sydney (just down Bridge St)
- The Conservatorium of Music,
- State Library of New South Wales,
- The Mint (no lift access),
- Hyde Park Barracks,
- Outside St James Church, and
- Hyde Park.
Gift and book shops are located in the State Library, Hyde Park Barracks and Museum of Sydney
How to get there
Macquarie St runs south from Circular Quay, adjacent to the Opera House. However there is a steep incline up to the State Library of New South Wales, but it levels out to Parliament House. There are several busy roads to cross (traffic lights and kerb crossings are provided).
Public transport options include the Sydney Explorer Bus which stops in Macquarie St opposite the library. Train stations at Circular Quay, Martin Place ad St James offer easy access lifts and provide the best option for accessing Macquarie St.
Pedestrians at Circular Quay can avoid most of the hill by accessing the lift located at the east end which takes visitors to Cahill Expressway level and a footpath which leads to Macquarie St.
Four dedicated access parking spaces are provided in Shakespeare Place, on the corner of The Macquarie St Historic Precinct and the Cahill Expressway. Two more spaces are located on the west side opposite Parliament House and two more adjacent to St Mary's Cathedral. Don't count on them being available. Underground parking can be accessed from Hospital Road at the Sydney Eye Hospital and the State Library of NSW (prior arrangement). Booking is required except for the Sydney Eye Hospital car park.
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Interactive map; http://maps.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/accessibility-map/