History of Macleay Reserve

Macleay Reserve

Macleay Reserve is at the end of Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay. This area was the eastern ‘wood walk’ of Macleay Estate, granted to Colonial Secretary and horticultural enthusiast Alexander Macleay in 1828.

Macleay Reserve in the 1960s

Macleay Reserve in the 1960s. (City of Sydney Archives, SRC15018)

In 1835 James Backhouse noted that the botanical interest of the wood walks was enhanced by the introduction of exotic plants, particularly orchids and ferns, amidst the well established indigenous trees.

The loop at the end of Elizabeth Bay Road surrounding the reserve was part of the 1865 subdivision of the eastern part of the estate.

This area was at first surrounded by large detached houses. In the twentieth century they began to be demolished for newer buildings, mainly residential apartments, which often preserved the names of the older houses.

Significant apartment buildings from the inter-war years include “Ashdown” (designed by Aaron Bolot in the European modernist style and completed in 1938) and “Adereham Hall” (designed by Gordon McKinnon and Sons in the Art Deco style and completed in 1934).

The 1960s and 1970s saw more apartment buildings rising on the old house sites, including “Ercildoune” (designed by Harry Seidler and completed in 1965) and “Toft Monks” (1967).

A notable early building is John Hughes’ house “Kincoppal”, completed in 1868, which was later a Sacred Heart convent and girls’ school.

Further reading

Twentieth Century Heritage Society of NSW, “Heritage Walks”, Sydney, 2007

Scott Carlin, “Elizabeth Bay House: a history and guide”, Historic Houses Trust, Sydney, 2000

Last updated: Wednesday, 27 March 2013