The Moreton Bay Fig is a single tree prominently located within the grounds of the Darlinghurst Court House on the corner of Darlinghurst Road. It has a height of 16m and spread of 15m. It has a trunk diameter of approximately 1.7m at 1m above the ground. It has been pruned for clearance to the buildings but is otherwise in fair health and condition. The tall Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) are planted as an intentional grouping and are also located within the grounds of the Court House near the corner of Forbes Street. They have clear trunk heights of approximately 12m and appear to be in good health and condition.
The trees within the Darlinghurst Court House site are significant due to their association with the buildings and are reflective of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century planting which further reinforces Darlinghurst’s historic character (refer to nearby Green Park listing in this Register). The Courthouse is scheduled on the State Heritage Register. These trees are likely to have important associations with Charles Moore and Joseph Maiden and are considered to have individual significance at the City/ LGA level in terms of visual, and historic values.
The Darlinghurst Court House and Residence was originally designed by the Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis. Building was commenced in 1835 and was not completed until 1844. Later the Government Architect James Barnet designed major flanking court room pavilion additions in 1884 – 88. This building was a milestone building, being specifically designed to suit its purpose and impart authority and the power of the law.
It is a massive, heavily designed old colonial Grecian /Greek revival style public building. It communicates its civic presence through its form. The symmetrical building uses elements of the Greek temple form, having a fluted stone Doric columned portico supporting a pedimented gable entrance to the central court, flanked by colonnaded wings which stand forward of the robust front elevations (State Heritage Register). The placement and scale of the trees in relation to the building reflect the buildings use and design. The planting date of the trees is unclear but the Fig is clearly visible in 1943 aerial photographs as a very large tree and it is likely to date from the time of the Barnet extensions in the late 1880’s. This was also the time the Moreton Bay Fig was very commonly used, particularly in civic landscapes. It is likely Charles Moore influenced the selection. The Palms appear to be a later addition, probably from the Inter-War period. They are visible in 1930 aerial views of the site and 1947 photographs as young but well established specimens.