A Very Brief History

Sydney is Australia’s oldest and largest city and was built on land once occupied by the Eora tribe. In 1768 Lieutenant James Cook set out on the ship H.M. Bark Endeavour to explore the South Pacific. It was on this expedition that Cook landed in Botany Bay on the 29th April 1770, becoming the first recorded white man to land in “New Holland” (later to be named Australia).

In 1788 the first fleet anchored in Botany Bay to establish the first colony in Australia as a result of Cook’s earlier expedition. The British Government saw Australia as an alternative to the United States of America, who had declared independence from Britain on the 4th of July, 1776 and had abolished the transportation of convicts.

The fleet of 11 ships carried 1030 people comprising of marines and convicts to begin work on establishing a town. Previously, Arthur Phillip, unhappy with the original location, set out with a party of officers in a small boat to find a more suitable location. They eventually found the perfect harbour and Phillip christened it Sydney Cove, after the British Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney, in recognition of Lord Sydney’s role in issuing the charter authorising Phillip to establish a colony.

On the 26th of January, the first fleet landed in Sydney Cove and raised the British flag. The 11 ships of the first fleet were HMS Sirius, HMS Supply, the Alexander, the Borrowdale, the Charlotte, the Friendship, the Fishburn, the Golden Grove, the Lady Penrhyn, the Prince of Wales and the Scarborough.

Things Are Looking Up In Sydney

When Lachlan Macquarie arrived to the new colony in 1809, to take the post of Governor, he set about to improve the construction of the towns, by regulating the width of streets and introducing building regulations. Macquarie was responsible for the construction of Sydney’s first public buildings and was responsible for setting the boundaries of Sydney’s grid of streets. He had great ambitions for the new settlement, and together with ex-convict architect Francis Greenaway, set about to change the face of the city. Some criticised the rather extravagant buildings being constructed in a pioneer settlement, whilst many saw the once chaotic settlement turn into a town of beauty.

Extravagant, ambitious or just plain crazy, Macquarie and Greenaway left a lasting impression on the city that can only be admired and respected today. Just wandering down the streets of Sydney’s Central Business District you get a unique mix of both old and new architecture. Interesting architectural areas of note can be found along, Macquarie Street, George Street, King Street, Pitt Street, Bridge Street and Phillip Street.

Things You May Not Know About Sydney

The Sydney Harbour Bridge contains 6 million hand driven rivets.

The Sydney Opera House covers approximately 1.82 ha, is 183m long and the roofs are covered by over 1 million Swedish ceramic tiles.

Church of St James is the oldest surviving church building in Sydney.

Il Porcellino (The Little Pig) statue outside the Sydney Hospital was donated by Marchessa Torrigiani who saved for seven years to purchase it. Rubbing its nose is believed to give you good luck and a cold hand.

Controversy over carvings on the Sydney General Post Office led to a ten year battle over their removal.

The gates of the Royal Botanical Gardens are all that remain of the Garden Palace which went up in a ball of flames in 1883. It was considered to be one of the grandest buildings in Australia and boasted the largest dome in the southern hemisphere.

Forby Sutherland was a seaman on the H.M.S Bark Endeavour, under the command of Captain Cook. He was the first British subject to die in Australia.