The splendid sweep of Macquarie Street ends at St. James’ Church, where it splits into Prince Albert and St. James roads. Beyond this split is Hyde Park, a sprawling, green oasis in the heart of the city. This handsome park, with its wide, tree-shaded walkways and broad lawns, attracts workers from the surrounding downtown buildings, many of whom resort here to enjoy the greenery and sunlight during lunch breaks.
Just inside the park, if you’re coming from Macquarie Street, one of the first things you’ll see, other than trees and people enjoying the beauty of the spot, is the Archibald Fountain. This grand fountain, with its mythological figures, is a favorite spot in Sydney.
The fountain, built in 1932, is named for J. F. Archibald, who bequeathed it to the city. Archibald was a journalist who, with a partner, founded in 1880 The Bulletin, a weekly paper that was to become a cultural icon in Australia. The Bulletin published political and business news, and was tremendously influential for a while, but it was probably even more influential as a literary magazine. Reader contributions were first encouraged in 1886, and the paper was soon filled with poetry, short stories, and cartoons from Australians, many of whom would in time become famous and define Australian literature. It launched the careers of many of Australia’s best-known writers, including A.B. “Banjo” Paterson, Henry Lawson, Miles Franklin, and Harry “Breaker” Morant. Paterson’s “The Man from Snowy River,” one of Australia’s most famous poems, first appear in The Bulletin in 1890.
The Bulletin changed and declined in influence after Archibald’s death, becoming less and less in touch with its readership and hopelessly outdated. It was sold and resuscitated in the 1960s, with new writers and focus, but finally ceased publication in 2008.
Archibald and The Bulletin are still part of the iconography of Australia. As long as Australia values its literary heritage, The Bulletin will be remembered.
Archibald’s estate at his death in 1919 was considerable. His will left two impressive gifts for his hometown: the Archibald Prize for portraiture, now one of Australia’s most prestigious art awards, and the Archibald Fountain. However, the fountain was for more than just Sydney; it was intended to commemorate the association of France and Australia during World War I.