This tree is a large but relatively young tree, having been planted in 1988. It has a spread of approximately 24m and a height of 16-18m. It has a trunk diameter at 1.0m above the ground of approximately 0.8m. It is an exceptionally good example of the species and is representative of many similar fig plantings (eg. Bicentennial Park, Homebush) that were undertaken throughout Sydney as part of the Bicentennial celebrations. It is one of the only large vegetative landscape features in this part of the water front.
Although still relatively young this is a large and very visually prominent tree, seen by millions of local and international visitors to Sydney, which was planted in 1988 to commemorate the Bicentennial. It is an excellent unimpeded example of the species and likely to become even larger in the future. It is considered significant from a botanic, commemorative and aesthetic perspective.
Campbells Cove has a long association with early Sydney and its commercial maritime pursuits. The adjoining Campbells Stores are scheduled heritage items in the City of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012. Robert Campbell (after whom the cove is named) was born in Scotland and together with his elder brother established Campbell and Co. The firm sent a speculative cargo to Sydney Cove in 1796 and Robert Campbell followed in 1798, with another cargo. He bought land at Dawes Point overlooking Sydney Cove from John Baughan and commenced trading gradually building up a reputation as a shrewd but honest merchant.
By November, 1801, some of Campbell’s Storehouses were complete, as was a stone wall and small wharf at right angles to the main warehouse. It was claimed to be the first privately owned wharf in Australia. John Lewin’s watercolour of 1808 showed the jetty completed out from the vaults, a two-storey storehouse and an access road to Wharf House running behind this jetty. On 29 June, 1814, Robert Campbell was granted 3 acres, bounded on the south by the premises occupied by the Naval Officer, on the southwest by a road leading to Dawes Point Battery, and on the east by Sydney Cove, ‘in consequence of his having erected thereon several large and expensive Buildings’.
In 1841 Robert Campbell formally applied to the Colonial Secretary for permission to enlarge part of his wharf so that ships could unload at low tide, by using a large rock which could not be removed by dredging as the foundation for the enlargement of the wharf. Over the years, the area of Campbell’s Wharf increased as more land was reclaimed. Between 1851 and 1852, John Campbell (son of Robert) added five stores which were built of stone, with slate roofs. These were the first five bays of Campbell’s Stores.
Despite much of the Rocks being developed for tourism, commercial activity continued in the vicinity of Campbell’s Wharf into the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Yet the importance of that area for commercial shipping had declined and this was reflected in changing use patterns of Campbell’s Stores.
After the erection of the Overseas Passenger Terminal in the 1960’s, the area was no longer used as a commercial shipping area, as all such activity had moved to Darling Harbour and Pyrmont. Campbell’s Stores subsequently came into the control of the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority (later Sydney Cove Authority) after being handed over by the Maritime Services Board (successor to the Sydney Harbour Trust) in the 1970s. The Sydney Cove Authority later redeveloped the stores and paved the way for the Store’s current use as a restaurant area. In the mid-1980s, substantial works were undertaken in the vicinity of Campbell’s Stores as part of the Bicentenary celebrations that included the removal of some of the wharfage near Campbell’s Stores. It is understood the Hill’s Weeping Fig (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) was planted. Not long after this the Park Hyatt hotel development was undertaken leaving Campbell’s Cove as we see it today. In 1998, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority assumed control of the area including the Campbell’s Stores.