Elizabeth Bay House

Top choice

Historic Building

in Kings Cross & Potts Point

View of the front facade, Elizabeth Bay House.

Now dwarfed by 20th-century apartments, Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay's elegant Greek Revival mansion was one of the finest houses in the colony when it was completed in 1839. The architectural highlight is an exquisite oval saloon with a curved and cantilevered staircase. There are lovely views over the harbour from the upstairs rooms. Drop down to the twin cellars for an introductory audiovisual with a weird beginning.

The grounds – a sort of botanical garden for Macleay, who collected plants from around the world – extended from the harbour all the way up the hill to Kings Cross. Traces remain, including a little hidden grotto reached by taking a path leading between 16 and 18 Onslow Ave.