Bonds of Friendship sculpture
Public Art: Bonds of Friendship sculpture
Also known as : The Australian Bonds of Friendship
Sculptor: © John Edwards Robinson
Description: The Bonds of Friendship sculpture which
celebrates the journey of the First Fleet and the bond of friendship between Australia and Britain, consists of two
large bronze interlocking rings resting on a stone plinth. This is one of two produced. The other, with a
deliberately duller finish, resides at the gates of Sally Port, Portsmouth, England.
Artist's Statement : "These are the feelings I
wanted to express with a symbol. I found it by creating the strongest chain possible ... a chain with only two
links, locked so tightly together it is inseparable, thus able to withstand the pressures of life."
Date Unveiled : The Bonds of Friendship sculpture was
unveiled on the 17th September, 1980 by Sir Zelman Cowan, the then Governor General of Australia.
Funded By : The Bank of New South Wales
Location: The Bonds of Friendship sculpture was
originally erected outside Customs House, Circular Quay but now resides in the Jesse Street Gardens, just near
Macquarie Place, Sydney CBD, Australia.
First Fleet Memorial
This memorial commemorates the voyage and arrival in Sydney of the First Fleetwhich brought to
Australia its first European settlers under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip. R.N. The Fleet
sailed from Portsmouth on 13th May, 1787, and anchored in Sydney Cove at a spot just north of this
memorial on 26th January, 1788.
The Fleet comprised eleven ships, H.M.S SIRIUS flagship, H.M.S. SUPPLY an armed tender, Six transports
ALEXANDER, LADY PENRHYN, CHARLOTTE, SCARBOROUGH, FRIENDSHIP, and the PRINCE OF WALES, together with
three store ships FISHBURN, GOLDEN GROVE and BORROWDALE. At departure they carried a total complement
of about 1487 who embarked at Plymouth, Portsmouth and the Thames.
The plinth of the memorial was donated by the Fellowship of The First Fleeters, all of whom are direct
descendants of those who arrived with the First Fleet. The granite block above the plinth was quarried
at Dartmoor, England and donated to the City of Sydney by the City of Portsmouth as a return gift from
a similar block of granite from N.S.W. given to them by the City. It was set in place the Lord Mayor of
Sydney on the 2nd of July, 1980.
The sculpture , Bonds Of Friendship, was presented by the Bank of N.S.W. It is a companion piece to the
one proposed by the Lord Mayor's Australian Settlers Commemoration Comittee of Portsmouth and which is
located near the Sally Port at Portsmouth Harbour through which Captain Phillip and many of his fellow
voyagers passed on their way to embark.
The Bonds of Friendship symbolizes the closeness of the ties that were forged between Portsmouth and
Sydneyas a result of the the voyage of the First Fleet and represents a links in a chain joining both
cities . It was designed by John Robinson. The donor , The Bank of New South Waleswas the first bank
and the first corporation established in Australia.
The Bonds of Friendship was unveiled on the 17th of September, 1980.
His Excellency Sir Zelman Cowan, A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.ST.J., Q.C.
Governor General of Australia
Alderman Nelson Meers
L.P. Carter O.B.E.
Mrs B. Lewis - President
Fellowship of the First Fleeters
Sir Nopi Foley O.B.E.
President Bank of New South Wales
Controversy: In 1997 the Bonds of Friendship
sculpture was removed from Alfred Street Square and placed in storage at the city's Bay Street depot while upgrades
to Circular Quay area were being made. By June, 2001, the sculpture had failed to resurface, which resulted in a
rather angry Hon Greg Pearce addressing the Chamber in the Parliament of New South Wales asking "Why has the
Lord Mayor and the Premier refused to restore this symbol of Australia's heritage?".
The Lord Mayor blamed the delay in reinstalling the work on the failure to get approval to have it
relocated to an area adjacent to the Australian Maritime Museum.
In Mr Pearce's closing statement he stated that "The British have not pulled down their sculpture
and put it in a store room. It is appalling that we have been so offhand with this symbol of the friendship between
our two countries." and called on the then Premier Bob Carr have the sculpture returned to its
Reference : Parliament of New South Wales,
Transcript, Bonds of Friendship Sculpture, speaker Hon Greg Pearce, 21st June, 2001.