James Barnet's Sydney

This walking tour will provide insight into the cityscape of colonial Sydney and the enduring influence of the architect of the Garden Palace.


James Barnet was NSW Colonial Architect from 1865 to 1890, during which time he amplified the scale and quality of Sydney's public buildings. His work includes the Garden Palace, the Australian Museum, the Chief Secretary's Office, the Lands Office and the General Post Office. Inserted into the ramshackle streetscape of colonial Sydney these buildings created new public spaces and transformed existing ones. They embodied core functions of government - public works, treasury, communication, lands and education.

Arrayed above Sydney Cove, Bridge Street became the focus of these purposes while the GPO inspired a new city centre and created an architectural and practical connection with the cities of the Old World. Encrusted with sculpture and statuary Barnet's designs embodied colonial confidence and idealism.


Meet on the corner of William and College Streets (outside the Australian Museum)
Ages 12+
Please wear flat enclosed walking shoes.

About your guide
Dr Charles Pickett has curated numerous exhibitions on architecture and design including the recent State Library exhibition Imagine a City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW. His books include The fibro frontier: A different history of Australian architecture, Designer Suburbs: Architects and affordable homes in Australia and Homes in Sky: Apartment living in Australia.