Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Sydney

Sydney, New South Wales 2000

Sydney has plenty of top attractions and sights to see, from the iconic Sydney Opera House to the Harbour Bridge and beyond. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair sits above Sydney’s picturesque harbour on a peninsula that juts out over the sea.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair

Formed of exposed sandstone rock that was hand-carved into a bench by convicts in 1810, it was built especially for Governor Macquarie’s wife, Elizabeth. The peninsula it sits on is also named after the Governor’s wife and forms part of The Domain, which can be found near the colourful Royal Botanic Gardens.

The History of Mrs Macquarie and Her Chair

Mrs Macquarie’s first name was Elizabeth Henrietta Macquarie, and she was the wife of Major-General Lachlan Macquarie who governed New South Wales between 1810 and 1821. The two were distant cousins, meeting at the deathbed of Lochbuy when Elizabeth was 26 years old. Macquarie was instantly attracted to Elizabeth, proposing to her 1805, but saying that they could only marry once he returned from his next tour to India, which was four years away. Eventually, he returned and the two married in 1807 when Elizabeth was 29 years old at Holsworthy in Devon.

Within the next two years, Macquarie was to be governor of New South Whales. The two shared a vision in transforming Sydney from the backwater convict dumping ground it was known as to a prosperous city.

It was said that Elizabeth was a kind woman, who particularly focused on helping the welfare of women convicts and the local Aboriginals. Most famous for her gift in gardening and agriculture, she was a pioneer in beginning the Royal Botanical Gardens. Elizabeth died on the 11th of March in 1835, aged 57 years old.

According to legend, she spent a lot of time sitting on the rocks and gazing out to sea spotting ships that were sailing from Great Britain into the harbour. It was one of her favourite spots to relax and soak up the panoramic views.

The chair itself is the most prominent part of the landscape and the attraction that draws in the most visitors, but it’s not the only thing to see there. Above the chair there is a stone inscription that refers to the nearby Mrs Macquarie’s Road. The route was built between 1813 and 1818 and runs from what was originally Government House to Mrs Macquarie’s Point. Again, it was built for Elizabeth on request from the Governor himself.

Despite inscriptions and references to the route, it no longer exists apart from a culvert which the road used to run along.

Finding Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

The peninsula that the chair sits on perches between the picturesque Garden Island peninsula to the east of Sydney and Bennelong Point to the west (which is where you’ll find the Sydney Opera House).

Facing the north-east and pointing towards Fort Denison and the ocean, the chair and its surroundings prove to be a popular lookout point for visitors to soak up the panoramic views from and explore the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from a different perspective.

Once you’ve discovered the city’s major attractions from ground level, why not head up into the peninsula to experience it from a different perspective? Not only will you be exposed to stunning sea and harbour views, but you’ll also get to learn about a little slice of history that still imbues this part of Australia.

Admire the Splendour of the City

The historic chair was carved into the rock to provide a resting place for Mrs Macquarie who adored arriving by carriage to Yurong or Anson’s Point and wandering down to the headland and sitting quietly to gaze out over the splendour of the city. From this timeless chair you can cast your eye over the harbour bridge and the rising mountains in the distance. You can also admire Kirribilli House, Pinchgut Island and the Navy dockyards at Wooloomooloo.

What you can see from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

  • Sydney Opera House

    View from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

    No human on this earth would be a stranger to the Sydney Opera House. Featured on countless advertisements and postcards, it is the signature landmark for Australia. Therefore, when visiting Sydney, every tourist wants the perfect shot of the Opera House. Mrs Macquarie Chair makes this easy with the front seat view to the epic Sydney Harbour.

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge

    The famous bridge of Sydney is the largest arch bridge in the entire world, stretching from the north of Sydney straight into the central hub. The bridge is a staple in the city’s skyline, contrasting beautifully with the nearby Sydney Opera House and the bright sapphire harbour. Get two of the most famous landmarks in all of Australian in one straight shot, posing with both the famous arch and sail-like roof both set beautifully in the background.

  • The Harbour Itself

    As the lookout is directly next to harbour water, you can really marvel at the brilliant blue colour of the city’s harbour. Where most city’s harbours and rivers can be quite murky with pollution, Sydney’s is a perfect azure shade. Transforming any photo, you take with it looks like a stunning summer adventure (no matter what season you even visit in.)

Share the views

Every year tourists teem to this little spot clutching their camera in hand, not because of any historical significance but simply to share in the view that Mrs Macquarie loved so much. The vantage point makes for an excellent place to capture the sunsets melting over the harbour and provides a sense of calm in the chic and cosmopolitan city. One of the best times to visit here is during the sunrise or sunset, with the soft orange and pink glow reflecting against the harbour water and nearby skyscrapers.

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