Although somewhat difficult to locate from nearby streets, these two native pines are nevertheless visually prominent elements in the Elizabeth Bay landscape. They are highly visible from the harbour and public foreshore spaces such as Beare Park. The Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) is located in a lower lawn area adjacent to the western boundary with 18 Onslow Ave and is estimated to be close to 30m in height with a diameter at 1.0m above ground of 0.7m. The Queensland Kauri Pine (Agathis robusta) is located in close proximity but further north. It is estimated at 22m in height with a diameter at 1.0m above ground of 0.9m. These pines appears to be in good condition and health with a dense well-developed crown and good apical growth. There is some dead wood present in the lower branches.
Other related components, although not listed include, two mature Camphor Laurels (Cinnamomum camphora), located in the upper gardens, which may have been self-sown at a later date. Although continuing the evergreen, broadleaf theme this vigorous colonising species is considered an exotic weed and its significance is considered neutral to intrusive in this context. Further voluntary colonisation by this species should be controlled. The Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) in this group, although not a particularly large specimen (16 metres in height), may have been a component of the original composition.
There are also two very large River Peppermints (Eucalyptus elata), located in the upper garden, and these are likely to be associated with a later planting phase following development of the apartment block. These tall trees (up to 25 metres in height) are likely to have been planted during the 1990’s and are not considered significant in this context.
These two mature native Australian rainforest pines, the Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) and Queensland Kauri Pine (Agathis robusta), have individual and group significance at the local level in terms of their aesthetic, botanic and biodiversity historic values. Both of these trees are outstanding specimens, having achieved dramatic scale and proportions in this north-facing, sheltered gully environment.
This rainforest planting palette, including the native figs and palms, continues an eclectic, romantic and picturesque style popularised by the Macleays, Charles Moore (Director, Royal Botanic Gardens 1848-1896) and the Guilfoyles. Furthermore, it is believed that this particular collection is a remnant of the once extensive gardens of Alexander and Eliza Macleay’s Elizabeth Bay House estate. This group of trees would have been located between Elizabeth Bay House and the former stables (refer to other listings for 14-16 Onslow Avenue ‘Tradewinds’, Billyard Avenue and Elizabeth Bay Road in this Register).
Governor Darling granted Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay 54 acres at Elizabeth Bay in 1826. From 1826-1926 the subject land was part of the Macleay family’s Elizabeth Bay estate garden, in which Alexander built his mansion in the 1830’s to the west. Built well before the house, the estate was widely considered at the time (1820’s onward) as “the finest house and garden in the colony” and had a number of areas, in gardenesque style. It is believed that these trees are a remnant of the Macleay’s Elizabeth Bay House gardens prior to subdivision (1865 to 1882). Large established trees are evident in the 1943 aerial photographs.
These highly ornamental rainforest pines, with their lush evergreen foliage, dramatic symmetry and scale, were planted as feature or landmark trees within former private garden estates and public parklands throughout the nineteenth century. They were often planted together with a range of other native rainforest and broadleaf evergreen species.