University of Sydney, Merewether Institute – Butlin Avenue and Maze Crescent

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    Darlington (View suburb)
    Historical, Visual,
    tree type
    age class
    Medium (10-20m)
    Medium (10-20m)
    Large (>100cm)
    Year Planted
    c. 1900-1920
    University of Sydney

    Scheduled Significant Trees

    Qty Common Name Species Locations
    6 Moreton Bay Fig Ficus macrophylla Find more locations
    13 Hills Weeping Fig Ficus microcarpa var. hillii Find more locations
    3 Port Jackson Fig Ficus rubiginosa Find more locations


    Like the adjacent figs on the City Road frontage of Victoria Park, most of the ageing specimens near the Student Information Centre are relatively small in stature (averaging 10-12 metres in height) and are in generally poor condition. These trees were possibly part of an earlier row plantation along the City Road frontage. One of the Moreton Bay Figs in Butlin Street however, is still a magnificent and visually imposing specimen in this elevated location (24 metres canopy spread). The massive buttressing and aerial roots of this tree extend over an area six metres in length. The Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa f. rubiginosa), located near the Darlington Centre and another of the glabrous leaf-form (Ficus rubiginosa f. glabrescens) situated in the rear car parking area of the building, are both outstanding specimens.

    The multi-trunk specimen located in Maze Crescent has achieved an exceptional size and scale, standing at 16 metres in height with a canopy spreading over 28 metres in diameter. It is one of the last remaining significant trees in this local context and has individual significance in terms of its visual, aesthetic, social and cultural values. Although isolated from other significant trees in this portion of the campus, the fig nevertheless has significance within the broader group context.


    These figs have local significance in terms of visual, social and historical values. These trees provide a distinctive sense of place and continue a rich legacy for the current and future generations of Sydney.

    Historical notes

    The Merewether Institute Building, originally designed by Benjamin Backhouse was built in 1870. The grounds of this grand Victorian Baroque building contain six remnant Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla) and three Port Jackson Figs (Ficus rubiginosa f. rubiginosa and f. glabrescens) dating from this period. This collection is consistent with the broadleaf evergreen and subtropical thematic planting style of the period, guided by the influence of Charles Moore (Director, Royal Botanic Gardens 1848-1896) and the Macleay family.

    The formal row plantation of Hill’s Weeping Figs (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) between the Merewether Institute Building and City Road is likely to be associated with a latter phase of planting, possibly during the early 1940’s. Aerial photos from 1943 clearly indicate some young trees planted as a row along this frontage. These trees help to extend the park-like character along this section of City Road and are consistent with similar row planting along the St Paul’s Oval boundary (opposite side of City Road).

    The Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla), located in Maze Crescent, adjacent to the glasshouses (opposite the Electrical Engineering Building) possibly dates from the late nineteenth century.


    Last modified: 26 February, 2014