This majestic Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) (planted c. late 1800’s) is located in the asphalt pathway between the Bridge Stairs /subway to Cumberland Street and Observatory Park. Its canopy extends over the footpath and roadway and it has an extensive root zone within this location. It is in generally good condition and health with a relatively dense canopy and minor fig psyllid insect damage. It measures approximately; height 16 metres, canopy spread 26 metres and trunk diameter 1.8 metres at 1.0 metre above the ground.
The small group of exotic, ornamental Jelly Palms (Butia capitata) (planted c. early 1930’s) located adjacent to the cycleway off-ramp/ Bridge Stairs and subway to Cumberland Street appear in fair to good condition and health. Their canopy and roots are confined to the public reserve. They measure approximately a height 4-7 metres (clear trunk) with a canopy spread of 3 metres.
This Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) is visually and historically linked to the broader nineteenth century planting scheme of Observatory Park that used only figs of this species. It is of local individual significance in terms of its scale and massive proportions in this prominent location (refer to Observatory Park listing in this Register).The small group of exotic, ornamental Jelly Palms (Butia capitata) are believed to be part of a broader civic landscaping program associated with the Harbour Bridge opening in 1932. This group has significance at the City/ LGA level in terms of aesthetic,visual, historic, commemorative and rarity values.
Although located on the northern side of Upper Fort Street, opposite Observatory Park, this Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) is visually and historically linked to the broader planting scheme in this park. This fig is a more or less contiguous component of Group A (north-eastern group) which includes four other Moreton Bay Figs. It is part of an original nineteenth century planting scheme which used only this single fig species.
The small group of exotic, ornamental Jelly Palms (Butia capitata) located near the above fig are a significant civic planting dating from the Inter-War period. These palms are believed to be part of a broader civic landscaping program associated with the Harbour Bridge opening in 1932. The same single species planting was used in a formal geometric scheme in Alfred Street Reserve, opposite Milsons Point Railway Station, North Sydney. A photograph of Alfred Street Reserve dating from 1937 (Stanton Library collection PF 274) shows the palms as established immature specimens with no trunk development. It is likely that the palms were planted in both locations during the same phase of development. Furthermore, the cluster of Jelly Palms in Upper Fort Street is a relatively uncommon example of this species being used as a specimen planting in a street or public park in the City of Sydney.