The interlocking canopies of a row of 11 Hill’s Weeping Figs (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) are significant visual elements along Fisher Road. They are now 18-20m in height with spreads of approximately 20m with the canopy extending over Fisher Road.
The three Callitris rhomboidea (Port Jackson Cypress) are located in a narrow garden area adjacent to the Transient and Madsen Buildings. These are a relatively uncommon native tree and are approximately 15-16m high with a narrow spread of only 3-4m.
The grounds of the University of Sydney contain an exceptional collection of significant trees, many of which are important elements in association with heritage listed buildings and road precincts. A number of places and items are scheduled on the Register of the National Estate, the State Heritage Register, City of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012 and classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW). At a group level, the significant trees within the University are considered to be one of the City of Sydney’s more important collections in terms of the special combination of aesthetic, scientific, botanic, historic, social and commemorative values.
Many of these trees are of exceptional value, creating landscapes of high visual and aesthetic quality and a unique sense of place. The University’s significant trees are typically associated with the curtilage of historic buildings, building facades, boundaries to colleges and along the campus boundaries, ovals and sportsgrounds, internal roadways and pedestrian walkways, courtyards and a broad range of ancillary spaces. These trees tell the stories and aspirations of people. They also provide historic markers in the landscape, describing the way the campus developed over time and its close links with Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Victoria Park (refer to other listings in this Register).
A large part of the collection dates from the mid- to late nineteenth century and reflects the eclectic thematic planting styles and various overlays of the period, particularly the influence of Charles Moore (Director, Royal Botanic Gardens 1848-1896) and the Macleay family. These nineteenth century landscapes contained strong structural elements. These trees have created a distinctive sense of place and continue to provide a rich legacy for the current and future generations of Sydney. They included consistent thematic planting palettes, row planting to boundaries, as well as informal clusters and groupings which combined to provide overall consistency, connectivity and integrity. During the Inter-War period (c. 1915-1940), Professor Leslie Wilkinson and Professor E.G. Waterhouse further influenced the landscape character of the University and introduced new elements which have now matured to become significant trees within this context.
The planting of the Hill’s Weeping Figs (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) appears to be from c. 1940 as they are evident as very small trees in the 1943 aerial of the area. The three Callitris rhomboidea (Port Jackson Cypress) would appears to date after the figs, and probably relate to the construction period of the Transient building which was built as a temporary building in the early Post War period.