Sydney Australia – The Country’s most Populous City, Located on the South East Coast
Sydney hosted major international sporting events, such as 1938 British Empire Games (Commonwealth Games) and 2000 Summer Olympics.
In 1788, Arthur Phillip, commodore of the First Fleet, established Sydney as a penal colony at Sydney Cove. It was built on hills surrounding Port Jackson (commonly and famously known as “Sydney Harbor”). National parks and coastal regions—rivers, inlets, beaches, bays—surround the hinterland. Both Manly and Bondi beaches are situated here. The main port is “Port Botany” while the main airport is “Sydney Airport”.
Before details are given, one must know that there are 3 aspects:
- Geological: Originally, Australia was a part of Gondwanaland (super-continent), along with New Zealand, Antarctica, India, Madagascar, Africa and South America. When Gondwanaland broke about 175 million years ago due to continental drift, Australia was the last landmass to form—about 45 million years ago, it broke away from Antarctica.
- Ancient: Arrival of indigenous Australians (the first ones to enter north from Asia, across a land bridge via Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) 68,000 years ago in the Sydney area.
These indigenous Australians were two types:
- Traditional Aborigines: Indigenous clans from all parts of Australia.
- Torres Strait Islanders: People who came over from Torres Strait Islands (between Papua New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula.
Before the British arrived, the land was “Terra Nullis” meaning “owned by no one”; later, it was named “New South Wales”.
Aboriginal occupation in Sydney goes back 22,000 years (radiocarbon date evidence) at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains. Their occupation site in the Baulkham Hills region—Bidjigal Aboriginal Reserve—dates back 10,000 years. Evidence of aboriginal settlements have also been found in Penrith (west Sydney)—about 5,000 years old.
There were about 34 aboriginal groups that lived across Sydney (greater region)—Wallumattagal (Ryde), Wangal (Concord), Cadigal (south head of Petersham), Burramattagal (Parramatta), Kameygal (Botany Bay), Cannalgal (Manly Coast), Birrabirragal (Sydney Harbor), Borogegal-Yuruey (Bradleys Head), Kayimal (Manly Harbor), and Muru-ora-dial (Maroubra).
Their dialects were Dharug, Dharawal, Kurringgai, and Dharug (Eora).
A Short History of Sydney Australia from 1770 to 1888
On April 29, 1770, Captain James Cook discovered Botany Bay, and on May 6 the same year, he discovered Port Jackson (Sydney Harbor, Middle Harbor, and North Harbor).
The proposal for setting up a Penal Colony at Botany Bay was put up by James Matra, Cook’s midshipman. The reason for this colony was to send convicts over from Britain’s overflowing prisons, and settle them here.
On August 18, 1786, the British Government decided to set up the colony; accordingly, Lord Sydney (Home Secretary) and Evan Nepean were put in charge of organizing the convicts’ travel.
Exactly a year later, on August 18, 1787, the First Fleet with 788 convicts (586 men and 192 women) sailed for Botany Bay; the captain of the ship was Arthur Phillip.
After 5 months, the First Fleet landed in Botany Bay on January 18, 1788. As the place was found unsuitable, Phillip decided to build the colony on Port Jackson. Accordingly, they reached Sydney Clove on January 26, 1788.
In April 1789, 90 per cent of Dharug-speaking aborigines were killed by small pox epidemic. Two years after the Penal Colony was established, there was a fierce aboriginal resistance (led by Pemulwuy) in December 1790.
In 1790, when Pemulwuy killed Phillip’s gamekeeper McEntire (because he had fired at the aborigines), Phillip ordered for 6 aborigines of Botany Bay be put to death. Surprisingly, McEntire admitted to committing the crime before he died.
Sydney’s first newspaper, the “Sydney Gazette” was published in 1803. In 1818, Hyde Park Barracks was constructed for male convicts; it was designed by Francis Greenway.
To house Lord Mayor and other officials’ offices, the Sydney Town Hall was built 1880.
Centenary Australia Day celebrations on January 26, 1888 were boycotted by aboriginal leaders but to no avail.
More Brief History from 1923 to 2006
Between 1923 and 1932, the Sydney Harbor Bridge was built; in between, the City Circle rail line was constructed in 1926.
Between 1957 and 1973, the Sydney Opera House was constructed.
Now, the aborigines account for 2 per cent of Sydney’s population—as per 2006 census.
Sydney’s Climate and Weather
Temperate climate with mind winters and warm summers, Sydney faces rainfall throughout the year. Due to proximity to the ocean, the weather is moderated and as such, bearable. The inland western suburbs face extreme temperatures.
January is the warmest with temperature between 65 °F and 78 °F. In a year, about 15 days record temperature more than 86 °F.
July is the coldest with temperature between 46 °F and 61 °F; as it is, the winter temperature hardly drops below 41 °F.
In the first six months of the year, the rainfall is heavier (than the other six months) because of easterly winds, averaging to 1,217 mm.
Sydney’s weather pattern is determined by the El Nino-Southern Oscillation—on one hand, bushfires and on the other, floods and storms.
70 °F is the average annual temperature of the sea with the monthly average ranging between 66 °F and 75 °F.
Best Places to Visit to know about the Aborigines
To see and learn about the Sydney Aboriginals, one must visit:
- Museum of Sydney: Dedicated to the city, stories and artifacts of local aborigines are exhibited here.
- Cadi Jam Ora: An excellent place for appreciating the history of the aborigines, it is a walk-by installation in the Botanic Gardens.
- Australian Museum: It is the best indigenous Australian exhibition, so far.
- Tribal Warrior: One can learn about the aborigines by embarking on a Sydney Harbor cruise—the captain and guide are the local aborigines.
Other Places to Visit in Sydney Australia
- Sydney Opera House: Designed by Jorn Ultzon, a Danish architect, this 20th century great urban sculpture was constructed between 1957 and 1973 (at the tip of a peninsula projecting into Sydney Harbor), and inaugurated on October 20, 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II.
- Bondi Beach: Australia’s most famous beach, it is located in the suburb of Bondi (7 km from the center of Sydney). Bondi (an aboriginal word) means “sound of breaking waves”.
- Manly Beach: With a laid-back atmosphere and relaxed village feel, this favorite beach (out of many others) is a short ferry trip from the Circular Quay. Cafes, bars, tranquil bays, beautiful beaches, and coastal walks make every visitor yearn for more.
- Paddy’s Market: In 1834, when Governor Bourke decided to move the hay and grain traders to a place next to Campbell Street’s cattle market, the traders created a split among the stall-holders—some had regular customers and some were just carrying on. Paddy’s Market saw the day when Bourke ordered for the market to be kept open till 10 pm on Saturdays.
- Darling Harbor: Called “Tumbalong” (meaning “where seafood is found”) by Gadigals (original inhabitants) till the arrival of the British, this harbor is one of the world’s leading entertainment and waterfront leisure destinations. It had developed into a major goods-handling and industrial precinct from a bustling market as commissioned in 1812 by Governor Macquarie.
- University of Sydney: Established in 1850, it technically began in 1852 with degree in Arts. Land at the Grose Farm was given to the university by the government when architect Edmund Blacket planned the “Quadrangle”, the original building. Focal point of the university, the “Great Tower” was completed by 1862. In 1909, government architect Walter Liberty designed and completed the south western corner. In 1920, architect Leslie Wilkinson (professor at the university) designed the western and northern wings in the 1920s.
It has 3 groups of interlocking “vaulted shells” set on a large platform with terrace around it—roofing a restaurant and 2 main performance halls.
It is 185 m x 120 m and has 1,000 rooms. The roof has 2,194 pre-cast concrete sections, held together by 350 km of tensioned steel cable. It (roof) has 1 million tiles, 6,225 sq m of glass and 645 km of electric cable!
As its first performance, The Australian Opera’s production of “War and Peace” by Prokofiev was presented.
The Opera house conducts 3,000 events, provides guided tours to around 200,000 people and has an annual audience of 2 million—all calculated on ‘per year’ basis.
It is 100 m long; the width is 50 m at the north end (there is a children’s wading pool and Wally Weekes pool) and 100m at the south end (where the Bondi Baths are located).
Red and yellow flags, which are moved as per the surf conditions, mark the swimming areas. The safest for swimming are the center and northern end.
Set in 8 m of water, a shark net is laid about 150 m off the beach.
Buildings on this beach are the Pavilion (opened in 1929; built in Mediterranean Georgian Revival style). Other pavilions at Cronulla and Balmoral, Bondi Pavilion Community Cultural Center, a souvenir shop, and a café/gelateria.
The best way to explore is either by rollerblade, or bike, or on foot. The Sealife Sanctuary is worth seeing—giant stingrays, turtles, fish, and huge sharks steal the show!
When the markets came under Sydney Council by 1842, the Paddy’s Market was already established. It got another books when George Street market remained open till 10 pm on Wednesdays.
Anyway, the market those days was an open air one—sideshows, farmers, secondhand dealers, merry-go-rounds, craftsmen—full of life. The fairground atmosphere did not remain the same after the gold rush period—the market patrons turned their attention to gold! The Saturday night market still continues.
It turned to a series of empty warehouses and used train tracks by mid 1970s. In 1984, under Labor premier Neville Wran, the New South Wales State Government decided to redevelop the harbor.
During Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1988, the harbor re-opened. It celebrated 21 years since its redevelopment in 2009.
It is home to the Chinese Garden of Friendship (haven of peace and tranquility).
Other Interesting Places to Visit
In 1990s, Sydney College of Arts and Sydney Conservatorium of Music amalgamated with this university. Sydney Institute of Education merged with the Faculty of Education, Cumberland College of Health Sciences became Faculty of Health Science, and Sydney College of Advanced Education Institute of Nursing Studies became the Faculty of Nursing.
Equally interesting are some other places like:
* Queen Victoria Building
* Town Hall
* George Street
* The Royal Botanic Gardens
* Mrs. Macquarie’s Point
* Hyde Park Barracks
* St. Mary’s Cathedral
* Bronte, Coogee, Maroubura, Tamarama, Little Bay, La Perouse, Cronulla, and Brighton-le-Sands beaches
* Watsons Bay, Rose Bay, Doubt Bay, the Gap and Elizabeth Bay
* Museum of Contemporary Art
* Justice and Police Museum
* Sydney Jewish Museum
* Museum of Sydney
* Australian National Maritime Museum
* Australian Museum
* Powerhouse Museum
* Art Gallery of NSW
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About the Author
Sangeeta is an expert Ayurveda Practitioner, especially with children.