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Cook and Phillip Park fills in the green gap between Hyde Park and The Domain, a much larger, plainer open space that stretches from behind the historic precinct on Macquarie Street to the waterfront, divided from the Botanic Gardens by the ugly Cahill Expressway and Mrs Macquarie’s Road. In the early days of the settlement, The Domain was the governor’s private park; now it’s a popular place for a stroll or a picnic, with the Art Gallery of New South Wales, an outdoor swimming pool and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair to provide distraction. On Sundays, assorted cranks and revolutionaries assemble here for Speakers’ Corner, and every January thousands of people gather on the lawns to enjoy the free open-air concerts of the Sydney Festival. The Royal Botanic Gardens, established in 1816, occupy the area between this strip of The Domain and the Sydney Opera House, around the headland on Farm Cove where the first white settlers struggled to grow vegetables for the hungry colony.

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