12.08.2018 – Elizabeth Bay House – Grotto

Further along from Elizabeth Bay House up Onslow Avenue, we discovered a novel solution to parking for residences of a high rise apartment block – security, gated platform where cars are driven in and then lowered underneath the building.

A few buildings further and we located the narrow set of steps that provides access to a high rise block of units but  is actually a public thoroughfare that extends down the side of the building. At the back of the building are the 165+.year old, well-worn steps and grotto cut into the rock with seating, once a feature on the Macleay property where the family could sit in the cool and view the harbour. That view is now the backs of high rise buildings. From this point, the pathway goes along behind other high rise buildings and between them, more steps to the lower level of Billyard Avenue where we discovered a second grotto.

For 8.years prior to the construction of his house, Alexander Macleay had the rocky hillside terraced and stepped and the area for the house prepared.  From the home there  were built various out-buildings, lawns and flowerbeds planned, stone balustrades and below, bush walks. Rather than clearing the land of native vegetation he inter-planted his exotics and preserved native trees and shrubs.  The cost of all of this and his home contributed to his financial disaster that cost Macleay his estate.  Subsequent land divisions left just the house.  The Grotto is the surviving fragment of the estate gardens.

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