Find Sydney on this map.

Find Sydney on this map.

Sydney, Australia: the capital city of New South Wales

Sydney is Australia's most famous city. It is built around beautiful Sydney Harbour. The harbour covers an area of 5,500 hectares and has an average depth of 9 metres. The city covers an area of 12 407 square kilometres.

The famous Sydney Harbour Bridge which was opened in 1932 and the Sydney Opera House which opened in 1973 are tourist attractions.

The city was named after Thomas Townshend, the first Viscount Sydney, who was an English politician involved in managing the colony of New South Wales. 

The city is run by a city council which is elected by the people of Sydney. The Lord Mayor leads the city council.  Sydney is the state capital so the Parliament of New South Wales is situated in the city.

Sydney weather

The weather in Sydney is temperate which means it is rarely very hot or very cold. The average summer temperature is about 25 Celsius. In winter the average temperature is about 15 Celsius.

Aboriginal people had lived in Australia for more than 50 000 years before European settlement. Getty Images

Aboriginal people had lived in Australia for more than 50 000 years before European settlement. Getty Images

The first people to live in Sydney

The first people to live in the area now known as Sydney were the Australian Aboriginal peoples, the Eora. They lived by hunting, fishing and gathering food.

The first European settlement in Australia was established at Sydney Cove in 1788 by Captain Arthur Phillip. He had arrived with the First Fleet, a group of ships carrying soldiers, sailors and convicts from England. 

Read the kidcyber page on the First Fleet.


Sydney: A brief timeline of European settlement and development

1788 - 2000

1788

January 26: Captain Arthur Phillip arrived with the First Fleet and established the first white settlement at Sydney Cove. 

1789

The first theatrical performance in Australia was in a mud hut. The play was 'The Recruiting Oficer' by George Farquhar.

1790

The second fleet arrived

1792

Land which will become Hyde Park is set aside.1926First electric trains.

1803

Australia's first newspaper, The Sydney Gazette is published

1809

Postal services began

1817

The first bank is opened and called The Bank of New South Wales. (now Westpac)

1831

Royal Botanic Gardens opened

1841

Sydney has gas lighting

1850

Sydney University is established. It is Australia's first university

1855

First railway line in New South Wales running from Redfern to Parramatta1996 Anzac Bridge opens

1872

The first cable message sent to London using the transcontinental telegraph.

1879

The world's first meat freezing works built by Thomas Mort. 

1916

Taronga Park Zoo is opened

1925

Foudation stones for Sydney Harbour Bridge laid and construction begins.

1932

Sydney Harbour Bridge opened.

1935

Luna Park opened

1957

Work begins to build the Sydney Opera House

1961

Tram replaced by buses in the city.

1973

Sydney Opera House is opened by Queen Elizabeth

1988

Powerhouse Museum opens

2000

Sydney hosts the 27th Olympic Games


Each day thousands of people travel across the harbour by ferry to work in the city, arriving at Circular Quay. Millions of tourists visit the city every year. They take ferry rides on the harbour and travel around the city by bus, train or on the Sydney lightrail 

Sydney was the host city for the Olympic Games in 2000.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Thousands walked across the bridge on the day it opened

Thousands walked across the bridge on the day it opened

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a steel arch bridge, and one of the most famous man-made landmarks in Australia. The roadway is held up by the arch and not by the stone pylons.

The designer of the bridge was Dr J.J.C. Bradfield.

The building of the bridge began in 1925 and finished in 1932.  Thousands walked across the bridge on the day it opened on March19,1932. At that time the bridge had two railway lines, two tram lines and four lanes for motor vehicles. There was also a walkway for pedestrians. In 1950 the tram lines became extra lanes for road traffic. 

Since 1999 groups of people are taken on climbs to the top of the arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Getty Images

Since 1999 groups of people are taken on climbs to the top of the arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Getty Images

Facts about the bridge: 

  • The arch span is 503 metres. The steel in the bridge weighs 52 800 tonnes.
  • The roadway is 49 metres wide and the length of the bridge is 1149 metres.
  • It cost approximately $21 million in today's money.
  • People can climb into one of the pylons for a view of the bridge and the harbour.

Sydney Opera House

The glass in the windows is a colour created just for this building. Photo©iStock

The glass in the windows is a colour created just for this building. Photo©iStock

One of the most famous buildings in Australia is the Sydney Opera House with its roof that looks like sails. The building is located on Bennelong Point, jutting out into the beautiful Sydney Harbour.  

In 1956, there was an international competition for designs for an opera house on that spot, and 233 designs were entered. In 1957, the design by a Swedish designer, Jørn Utzon, was announced as the winner. Work began in 1959.

On special occasions, special lighting is projected onto the sails. Photo©iStock

On special occasions, special lighting is projected onto the sails. Photo©iStock

Three tower cranes made in France were bought in order to build the sails. The sails, an area of 1.62 hectares, are covered in 1,056,006 tiles made in Sweden. Instead of columns to support the weight of the sails, the engineering of the design uses folded beams in different shapes  according to the stress and weight they support. The highest sail is as high as a 22 storey building.

There are seven performance venues in the Opera House: the Concert Hall, the Opera Theatre, Playhouse, Drama Theatre, The Studio, the Forecourt and the Utzon Room.  The Concert Hall Grand Organ is the largest mechanical organ in the world, with its 10,154 pipes. It took 10 years to build it.

The building was opened in 1973.

Some fun facts about the Opera House:

  • Each year, 15,500 light bulbs are changed.
  • American singer Paul Robeson was the first person to perform at the Opera House: in 1960 he climbed the scaffolding and sang Ol' Man River to the construction workers as they ate their lunch.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger won his final Mr Olympia bodybuilding title in the Concert Hall in 1980.
  • A net was put over the orchestra pit for the opera Boris Gudenov after one of the live chickens used in the performance walked off the stage and landed on a cellist.
  • The biggest audience to attend a performance at the Opera House was in 1996 for the Crowded House Farewell to the World concert in 1996.
  • There is an opera about the Sydney Opera House, called The Eighth Wonder.
  • It took 4 weavers more than 8 months to weave a new tapestry, Homage to CPE Bach, for the Utzon Room. About 4,500 km of wool was used in the weaving.
  • In a single day, a stage hand working at the Opera Theatre walks an average of 18,681 steps (about 13 km).
  • The Opera House is closed only on Good Friday and Christmas Day, open the other 363 days, with staff working 24/7.
Two distinctive landmarks. Photo©iStock

Two distinctive landmarks. Photo©iStock

Go here to find out about things to see and do in Sydney.

http://www.sydney.com/

Read more about the Sydney Opera House.