The opening hours of Cadmans Cottage can be erratic and inconsistent with listings online – it is best to incorporate your visit into a broader tour of the area, just in case.
Located on the western side of Circular Quay, Cadmans Cottage has the distinction of being the oldest surviving residential building in Sydney, and the city’s third oldest building of any kind. It was built in 1816, less than thirty years after the arrival of the original colonist party in 1788. These early settlers relied on the efficient organisation of the harbour for their survival, and it was the job of the government coxswain to oversee the collection and distribution of the produce coming in on the government boats. This man and his crew needed quarters from which to operate and live, and it was to satisfy this need that Cadmans Cottage was built.
Casa de Cadman
The place is named after John Cadman, who was coxswain here for 18 years. He had arrived in Australia at the age of 25 in 1797, convicted of stealing a horse. It took another 24 years for Governor Macquarie to finally pardon him, and six years after that he landed the job of government coxswain.
Things have changed quite a bit since John’s day. When he and his family occupied the cottage, the tide used to come to within three metres of the outer walls. Now, however, the reclamation of land during the building of Circular Quay means that the water is now almost a hundred metres distant. In 1976 custody of the building was passed to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and after a thorough renovation it was reopened as a kind of mini-museum. There is not a huge amount to see here, and the real merit of the building lies in its historic importance to Sydney.
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