Totally overshadowed by Circular Quay, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, it is little wonder that most visitors scarcely notice Cadman’s Cottage and those that do pay it scant regard, being intoxicated by its world famous neighbouring sights.

Of course things are not helped by the fact that the cottage is not open to the public. It hasn’t been since 2013.

Still, it is worth a quick look in passing as it is one of Sydney’s oldest buildings, and its oldest remaining residential property, built on the edge of Sydney Cove in 1816 (with the obvious extension on the south side having been added between 1835 and 1837). Later infill and development of what we now refer to as Circular Quay means the cottage is now about 50 metres back from the water’s edge.


Today, the homely cottage stands in stark contrast to the commercialised and sanitised character of other tourist attractions in the area.

The sandstone cottage started out life as the Coxswain’s barracks. The Coxswain ran a fleet of convict crewed boats used to transship goods from larger ships and more generally move goods around the harbour in the early days of the Colony of New South Wales, when everything was brought in by sea.

Architecturally the cottage is in Georgian style, like many of Sydney’s early government buildings, in line with Governor Macquarie’s grand plan to have ‘respectable buildings’ in Britain’s new colony.

The cottage takes it name, from Sydney’s 4th Coxswain, John Cadman, who was appointed on 27 January 1827 and who lived here for 18 years. Cadman was himself transported to Sydney by sea in 1797 (his sentence having been reduced from a death sentence) for stealing a horse. He was pardoned by Governor Macquarie in 1821.

In 1845 the cottage became the headquarters of the Sydney Water Police and in 1865 it became the home of the superintendent of the, then adjacent, Sydney Sailors Home, a benevolent association devoted to reforming and housing itinerant seafarers. It remained the superintendent’s home until the 1920s from which point and until the 1950s it was used as overflow accommodation for the Sailors Home. By 1976 it had become a listed building under control of the New South Wales Government.

My final pictures below are of the cottage lit up as part of the 2015 and 2017 Vivid Sydney displays (see separate review).


A look in passing will be sufficient for most visitors and will have to suffice for everyone as it is not open to the public.

Address: The Rocks – 110 George Street
Directions: Short walk from Circular Quay
Phone: (02) 9995 5555
Website: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

For my next SYDNEY – CITY – ROCKS / DAWES POINT review click HERE.
For other Sydney reviews click HERE.

4 thoughts on “Cadman’s Cottage

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