The History of Sydney begins in prehistoric times with the occupation of the district by Australian Aborigines, whose ancestors came to Australia between 15,000 and 45,000 years ago. The modern history of the city began with the arrival of a First Fleet of British ships in 1788 and the foundation of a penal colony by Great Britain.
In a little over 200 years, Sydney has pulled its way up from lawless penal colony to modern metropolis, host of the headquarters of a number of multi-billion dollar companies (some of which aren’t bottle shops) and center of hundreds of square kilometers of suburbs .
Therefore Sydney has earned the life of lounging by the beach and 24 hour drinking sessions that every Sydneysider enjoys daily, without fail.
Through this rather short period the sydneysiders have managed to erect marvellous and unique landmarks , some more famous than others.
Upon visiting this metropolis don’t miss out on embarking on a city walking tour to get a glimpse of these extraordinary constructions.
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is Australia’s most recognisable building and is an icon of Australia’s creative and technical achievement. Since its completion in 1973 it has attracted worldwide acclaim for its design and construction, enhanced by its location on Bennelong Point within a superb harbour setting.
The design of the building, with its soaring white roof shell shaped sails atop a massive red granite platform, has been internationally acclaimed as an architectural icon of the 20th century. As a dominant sculptural building that can be seen and experienced from all sides, it is the focal point of Sydney Harbour and a reflection of its character.
It took 16 years to build. Constructed between 1957 and 1973, is a masterpiece of modern architectural design, engineering and construction technology in Australia.
Since its opening, the Opera House has attracted great artists from across the world, and hosted performances by many nationally and internationally acclaimed performers.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s largest (but not longest as that’s the New River Gorge in the USA) steel arch bridge, and, in its beautiful harbour location, has become a renowned international symbol of Australia.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, also affectionately known as the ‘Coathanger’, was opened on March 19th 1932 by Premier Jack Lang, after six years of construction. Made of steel the bridge contains 6 million hand driven rivets. The surface area that requires painting is equal to about the surface area of 60 sports fields. The Bridge has huge hinges to absorb the expansion caused by the hot Sydney sun. You will see them on either side of the bridge at the footings of the Pylons.
Here are some interesting facts about this bridge that, together with the Opera House, identifies Sydney and Australia with the rest of the world:
1 When the bridge was inaugurated on 19 March 1932, the ceremonial ribbon cutting was supposed to be done by NSW Premier the Hon. John T. Lang. However, Capt. Francis de Groot of the New Guard paramilitary group beat him to it. Capt. de Groot cut the ribbon with his sword! (He was subsequently arrested, the ribbon tied back together, and the ceremonial cutting proceeded without further hitches).
2 The public was allowed to walk across the deck of the bridge when it was first opened in 1932, repeated only 50 years later in 1982. If you are in Sydney in 2032, the centenary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge might be the next opportunity to do this again, so mark you calendar and do not miss that chance !
Queen Victoria Building
Rich in history and architecturally splendid, the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) occupies an entire block on Sydney’s George Street, and has over 180 of Sydney’s finest fashion boutiques, jewellery shops and homewares, accompanied by delightful cafes and restaurants.
The grand building, built in the 1890s was erected as a Municipal Market on the scale of a Cathedral. The QVB was beautifully restored and reopened in 1986, and quickly became Sydney’s most popular and prestigious shopping center..
The dominant feature is the mighty center dome, which during the Christmas period is occupied by a giant Christmas tree, a must see for any visitor. Glorious stained glass windows and splendid architecture endure throughout the building and an original 19th century staircase sits alongside the dome.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral
Located next to Hyde Park on the north east corner, the foundation stone of St Mary’s Cathedral was laid in 1868, although construction with the completed spires did not occur till the year 2000.
Designed in gothic revival architecture by William Wilkinson Wardell. Situated on College Street, it has been a Sydney City landmark for a long time.
St Mary’s Cathedral stands in the centre of Sydney as a Christian statement of grace and beauty. Generations of artists have bequeathed to it their magnificent gifts in stone and glass, designing a unique space of solace and prayer within this vibrant city. This Cathedral represents the spiritual origins of the Catholic Church in Australia. It is one of Sydney’s most treasured historic buildings and one of the finest examples of English-style gothic churches in the world. William Wilkinson Wardell, the 19th century architect, dreamed of a gothic structure shaped from the local yellow-block sandstone on which this city is built. The building was finally completed 100 years after the architect’s death. The Cathedral is dedicated to Mary Help of Christians.
The Anzac War Memorial
One of the landmarks in Hyde Park is the ANZAC War Memorial. Designed by Bruce Dellit who had served in the trenches in France, with the statues that adorn the building by Raynor Hoff.
The ANZAC Memorial was created by the people of New South Wales as a place to remember the impact of the Great War (1914 – 1918). Although the Memorial did not open until 1934 the need for the Memorial was recognised as soon as the casualty figures from the 1915 Gallipoli campaign became public knowledge. Planning for a Memorial of some kind began with the establishment of a fund on the first anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in 1916.
Inside the building, there are bronze bas-relief panels, showing the various campaigns that Australian military were involved in, from the Mideast and Gallipoli to France.
The Memorial is open every day 9.00am – 5.00pm except Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Sydney Tower eye
Right in the heart of the Sydney central business district rises the 305-metre Sydney Tower Eye, a distinctive, highly visible Sydney landmark and the citys tallest structure, more than two and a quarter times the height of the Sydney Harbour Bridge at its highest point.
The tower has had a number of name changes and on September 22, 2011, after months of renovation, it became Sydney Tower Eye.
Sydney Tower Eye provides an aerie-like platform to view Sydney and its surrounds.
On a clear day, you can see as far as the Central Coast in the north, the Blue Mountains in the west and Wollongong and the Illawarra Coast in the south.
But Sydney Tower Eye is not just a landmark, an observation deck, and a point of reference for those who lose their way in the city.
Currently it offers a Skywalk around the outside of the tower and a 4D Cinema showing images of Sydney.
Explore these unique landmarks and more by participating in our Free to Go Sydney Original tour !