A sculpture and fountain made from the trunk of a eucalyptus tree covered in gold leaf at night on a street corner.
Close up of gold leaf  on a a sculpture made from the trunk of a tree.
Close up of gold leaf  on a a sculpture made from the trunk of a tree.

A tree to encourage harmony and serenity at the symbolic entry point to Chinatown.

Artist: Lin Li

Artwork description

This sculpture comprises the trunk of a yellow-box eucalyptus tree partly covered with 23-carat gold leaf applied over fibreglass, mounted on a terracotta tile base set into the pavement.

Standing 10.7m high the sculpture is on the corner of Hay and Sussex street in Haymarket, the symbolic entry point to Chinatown.

The artwork uses Chinese feng shui principles mixed with Australian native materials including the yellow box tree, gold, earth and water. A wooden pagoda would traditionally be built at this site to protect the rivers and ensure wealth to the village. Water flows from the golden sculpture to symbolise money and life.

Said to represent positive energy and good fortune, the sculpture incorporates the shui kou elements – or 5 natural elements – of wood, water, earth, fire and gold to harmonise the natural environment with the urban environment. The use of gold leaf also provides a historical link to the early Chinese settlers in the goldfields that surrounded the site of the tree’s original location in Condobolin, NSW.

The tree is said to encourage harmony and serenity in this vibrant location.


Lin Li was born in China in 1960 and studied sculpture in Luxiun College of Fine Arts from 1982 to 1987. She arrived in Australia in 1990 and studied at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW from 1993 to 1995, completing a Master in Sculpture.


This artwork was commissioned by the Sydney Open Museum, as part of the Haymarket upgrade.

Funds to cover the cost of the project were provided by the City of Sydney and the Chinese community.

It was installed in September 1999 and unveiled to the public in October that year.

Chinatown public art strategy

A new series of public art projects began in 2010 to revitalise and extend Chinatown’s public spaces.

The program is based on extensive community consultation and development by curatorial advisor Aaron Seeto as part of the Chinatown public domain plan.

The approach recognises the existing artworks commissioned in 1999 and the character of this vibrant urban area.

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