Last weekend we went to Sydney to meet up with some of my husband's extended family. Since we had a free day on the Monday we strolled around the city looking at some of the sights.
I'd hoped to get some sense of what Sydney might have been like in the time when John Mason and Catherine Murphy were living there in the early 1840's, long before the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House were built. However very little of the early settlement remains.
|Lower George Street and Sydney Cove c.1851|
watercolour attributed to Jacob Janssen
|Views of Sydney, from St. Leonards, 1842|
Similarly the harbour itself is no longer what John Mason would have seen when he arrived in Sydney (probably in 1833). A marker placed to show the original shoreline near Cadman's cottage is a hundred metres from the present day wharf at Circular Quay.
|An early photo of George St, the Rocks|
These buildings still stand
We stopped for a coffee in a row of shops in George Street which would have existed in John and Catherine's day. Most were now boutiques and bars, and across the road was a very modern art gallery. It was hard to imagine what the area might have looked like back in 1840.
|Hyde Park, St Mary's Cathedral and Belfry, 1842|
|Old St Mary's Cathedral|
date and artist unknown
Up the hill from the Rocks, near the Domain, we found St Mary's Cathedral, where John and Catherine were married in 1841. Unfortunately the original building burned down in 1865. The current building, although magnificent, was built long after the Masons moved to Adelaide.
But never mind. After strolling through the beautiful botanic gardens with the glass and steel towers of the business district as backdrop, then sitting in the winter sunshine watching a lunch-hour game of soccer being played, I had to think that John and Catherine would have been both amazed and approving of what Sydney has become.
|The spires and tower of St Mary's Cathedral today|
(All images except the last one are courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)