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The Sydney sundial trail
by Piers Nicholson and Peter Davis
IntroductionThese notes were prepared by Piers Nicholson after a visit to Sydney in December 2000. They have been revised and augmented by Peter Davis in April 2001. Interested readers are invited to submit details of any additional sundials from the Sydney region.
General Location: Sydney, Australia: Latitude 33deg 54min S Longitude 151deg 15min E
Time Zone K (Australian Eastern Standard Time = UT +10 hours)
Longitude Time Correction -4m 52s
Daylight Saving Time applies in summer months.
1)Armillary sphere sundial, Herb Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Location :Macquarie Street, Sydney, (1km N.E. of the General Post Office)
Access: It is best reached on foot from St James or Martin Place railway
stations walking north down Macquarie Street past the State Library
of New South Wales and entering the gardens at the Palace Garden Gate.
The herb garden is nearby behind the State Conservatorium of Music.
Description: This very fine sundial is cast from silicon bronze, stands 2.4m high, with a diameter of 1.8m and weighs 1.5 tonnes. The dial is set in a radiating octagonal paved sandstone courtyard. The four cardinal points of the compass are marked at the four feet that support the three rings (meridional, equatorial and horizontal) of the armillary sphere. It was made in 1993 by Margaret Folkard and John Ward of Sundials Australia, and serves as a memorial to Nigel Malcolm Hardy Arnott, an admirer of the Botanic Gardens. Some interesting details on the construction of this and other large bronze armillary sphere sundials are given in the self-titled book by Sundials Australia, which also has a good treatment of designing sundials for the southern hemisphere. The hours from 6am to 6 pm are marked with 10 minute divisions on the inside of the tapered equatorial ring. The horizontal ring is magnificently decorated with an arrangement of 38 different kinds of herbs (including coffee!) sculpted in three dimensions and cast integrally into the ring. Look for a very special parrot hidden away in the herbs! Two plaques at the base of the dial give a time correction graph and the history of the donation of the dial.
2) Replica 15th century Korean hemispherical sundial, Sydney Observatory
Location: Watson Road, Observatory Hill, The Rocks (1km N.W. of GPO)
The old building has a very interesting Museum of Astronomy, including an exhibit describing the Transit of Venus which in 1769 brought Captain Cook to Australia. (The rest, as they say, is history). Among the exhibits is the hemispherical dial shown below. This bowl-shaped dial is a replica of one from the court of King Sejong. Another exhibit is a Cooke solar chronometer. It seems strange that there is nowhere to be found a 'working' sundial on the building or in the grounds of the observatory.
3) Equatorial sundial, Captain Cook Place
Location: Raglan Street, Waterloo (3km S of GPO)
Access: This sundial is not far from the Australian Technology Park (ATP) and Redfern Station. See the ATP locality map. From the city centre you can take a train to Redfern station. Better still a 308 or 310 bus will take you to the western end of Raglan Street. From there walk 400m east along Raglan Street to the dial which is on the right side of the road between two 17 storey housing blocks and close to the intersection with Pitt Street.
This sundial was built in 1970 by Sundials Australia to commemorate the bicentenary of Captain Cook's landing at nearby Botany Bay. The children who kindly posed to show the scale advised us (PN) gravely to put our cameras away since "this is a slightly rough area", though we had no difficulties. The partial meridional and equatorial rings of this 'cut away' armillary sphere are built from hollow steel sections.. It is painted in a functional grey finish. The hours from 4am to 8pm are marked at 5 minute intervals with weld lines. A dedicatory plaque was unveiled 16 December 1970. Another plaque on the East side gives a time correction graph. The dial stands in a concrete paved circular surround in which is set a stylized map of Australia and New Zealand and the route of Captain Cook's vessel the Endeavour.
4) Horizontal sundial, Bicentennial Park , Homebush
Location: Victoria Avenue, Concord West (15km W of GPO)
Access: Gates to the park are 100m from Concord West railway station.
Description: This 'walkthrough' sundial with a gnomon 8m long is well worth a visit and is near to the Olympic Park site of the 2000 Olympics. Hour lines and declination lines are set as brass strips in a concrete base dialface. This large (20m diameter) slab of concrete had unfortunately split right across at the time of my (PD) last visit in Nov 1999. Bicentennial Park is open to the public from sunrise to sunset (quite adequate for sundial viewing!). An image of the dial is seen at the Sundials Australia link.
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