This article is about the Australian metropolis. For the local government area, see City of Sydney. For other uses, see Sydney (disambiguation).

New South Wales

Coordinates 33°51′54″S 151°12′34″E / 33.86500°S 151.20944°E / -33.86500; 151.20944Coordinates: 33°51′54″S 151°12′34″E / 33.86500°S 151.20944°E / -33.86500; 151.20944
Population 4,921,000 (2015)[1] (1st)
 • Density 400/km2 (1,000/sq mi) (2015)[2]
Established 26 January 1788
Area 12,367.7 km2 (4,775.2 sq mi)(GCCSA)[3]
Time zone AEST (UTC+10)
 • Summer (DST) AEDT (UTC+11)
LGA(s) various (31)
County Cumberland
State electorate(s) various (49)
Federal Division(s) various (24)
Mean max temp[4] Mean min temp[4] Annual rainfall[4]
21.7 °C
71 °F
13.8 °C
57 °F
1,213 mm
47.8 in
Footnotes Coordinates:[5]

Sydney /ˈsɪdni/[6] is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania.[7] Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds the world's largest natural harbour, and sprawls towards the Blue Mountains to the west.[8] Residents of Sydney are known as "Sydneysiders". Sydney is the second official seat and second official residence of the Governor-General of Australia and the Prime Minister of Australia.

The Sydney area has been inhabited by indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years.[9] The first British settlers, led by Captain Arthur Phillip, arrived in 1788 to found Sydney as a penal colony, the first European settlement in Australia.[10] Since convict transportation ended in the mid-19th century, the city has transformed from a colonial outpost into a major global cultural and economic centre. As at June 2015 Sydney's estimated population was 4.92 million.[11] In the 2011 census, 34 percent of the population reported having been born overseas,[3] representing many different nationalities and making Sydney one of the most multicultural cities in the world. There are more than 250 different languages spoken in Sydney and about one-third of residents speak a language other than English at home.[12][13]

Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world,[14] the 2014 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranks Sydney tenth in the world in terms of quality of living,[15] making it one of the most livable cities.[16] It is classified as an Alpha+ World City by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, indicating its influence in the region and throughout the world.[17][18] Ranked eleventh in the world for economic opportunity,[19] Sydney has an advanced market economy with strengths in finance, manufacturing and tourism. Its gross regional product was $337 billion in 2013, the largest in Australia.[20] There is a significant concentration of foreign banks and multinational corporations in Sydney and the city is promoted as Asia Pacific's leading financial hub.[21][22][23][24]

In addition to hosting events such as the 2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney is amongst the top fifteen most-visited cities in the world,[25] with millions of tourists coming each year to see the city's landmarks.[26] Its natural features include Sydney Harbour, the Royal National Park, and the Royal Botanic Garden. Man-made attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Tower and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are also well known to international visitors.


First inhabitants

The first people to inhabit the area now known as Sydney were indigenous Australians having migrated from northern Australia and before that from southeast Asia. Radiocarbon dating suggests human activity first started to occur in the Sydney area from around 30,735 years ago.[9] However, numerous Aboriginal stone tools were found in Western Sydney's gravel sediments that were dated from 45,000 to 50,000 years BP,[27] which would indicate that there was human settlement in Sydney earlier than thought.[28]

The earliest British settlers called them Eora people. "Eora" is the term the indigenous population used to explain their origins upon first contact with the British. Its literal meaning is "from this place". Prior to the arrival of the British there were 4,000 to 8,000 native people in Sydney from as many as 29 different clans.[29]

Sydney Cove from Port Jackson to Petersham was inhabited by the Cadigal clan.[29] The principal language groups were Darug, Guringai, and Dharawal. The earliest Europeans to visit the area noted that the indigenous people were conducting activities such as camping and fishing, using trees for bark and food, collecting shells, and cooking fish.[30]

Development has destroyed much of the city's history including that of the first inhabitants. There continues to be examples of rock art and engravings located in the protected Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.[31] The first meeting between the native people and the British occurred on 29 April 1770 when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula and encountered the Gweagal clan.[30][32][33] He noted in his journal that they were confused and somewhat hostile towards the foreign visitors.[30] Cook was on a mission of exploration and was not commissioned to start a settlement. He spent a short time collecting food and conducting scientific observations before continuing further north along the east coast of Australia and claiming the new land he had discovered for Britain.

Establishment of the colony

A Direct North General View of Sydney Cove, by convict artist Thomas Watling in 1794

Britainbefore that, Englandand Ireland had for a long time been sending their convicts across the Atlantic to the American colonies. That trade was ended with the Declaration of Independence by the United States in 1776. Overrun with prisoners, Britain decided in 1786 to found a new penal outpost in the territory discovered by Cook some 16 years earlier.

The colony was at first to be titled "New Albion", but Phillip decided on "Sydney" in recognition of The 1st Baron Sydneylater created The 1st Viscount Sydney in 1789and his role in authorising the establishment of the settlement.[34] Captain Philip led the First Fleet of 11 ships and about 850 convicts into Botany Bay on 18 January 1788, though deemed the location unsuitable due to poor soil and a lack of fresh water. He travelled a short way further north and arrived at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788.[35][36] This was to be the location for the new colony. Phillip described Sydney Cove as being "without exception the finest harbour in the world".[37] The official proclamation and naming of the colony happened on 7 February 1788.

Sydney Cove from Dawes Point, 1817

Between 1788 and 1792 about 4,300 convicts were landed at Sydney. The colony was not founded on the principles of freedom and prosperity. Maps from this time show no prison buildings; the punishment for convicts was transportation rather than incarceration, but serious offences were penalised by flogging and hanging.[38][39]

Officers and convicts alike faced starvation as supplies ran low and little could be cultivated from the land.[40] The region's indigenous population was also suffering. It is estimated that half of the native people in Sydney died during the smallpox epidemic of 1789.[29][41] Some mounted violent resistance to the British settlers. Lachlan Macquarie became Governor in 1810.

Macquarie did make the most of less than ideal circumstances. His first task was to restore order after the Rum Rebellion of 1808 against the previous Governor. Conditions in the colony were not conducive to the development of a thriving new metropolis, but the more regular arrival of ships and the beginnings of maritime trade (such as wool) helped to lessen the burden of isolation.[38][42]

Macquarie undertook an extensive building programme of some 265 separate works.[43] Roads, bridges, wharves, and public buildings were constructed using convict labour and come 1822 the town had banks, markets, and well-established thoroughfares. Part of Macquarie's effort to transform the colony was his authorisation for convicts to re-enter society as free citizens.[43]

Modern development

The year 1840 was the final year of convict transportation to Sydney, which by this time had a population of 35,000.[35][38] The municipal council of Sydney was incorporated in 1842 and became Australia's first city.[44] Gold was discovered in the colony in 1851 and with it came thousands of people seeking to make money.[35][44] Sydney's population reached 200,000 by 1871.[45]

Following the depression of the 1890s, the six colonies agreed to form a federated nation of The Commonwealth of Australia. Under the reign of Queen Victoria federation of the six colonies occurred on 1 January 1901. Sydney, with a population of 481,000, then became the state capital of New South Wales.[39] The Great Depression of the 1930s had a severe effect on Sydney's economy, as it did with most cities throughout the industrial world. For much of the 1930s up to one in three breadwinners was unemployed.[46] Construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge served to alleviate some of the effects of the economic downturn by employing 1,400 men between 1924 and 1932.[47] The population continued to boom despite the Depression and reached 1 million in 1925.[45]

Sydney Harbour in 1932

When Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, Australia too entered. During the war Sydney experienced a surge in industrial development to meet the needs of a wartime economy. Far from mass unemployment, there were now labour shortages and women becoming active in male roles. Sydney's harbour was attacked by the Japanese in May and June 1942 with a direct attack from Japanese submarines with some loss of life.[48] Households throughout the city had built air raid shelters and performed drills.

Following the end of the war the city continued to expand. There were 1.7 million people living in Sydney at 1950 and almost 3 million by 1975. The people of Sydney warmly welcomed Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 when the a reigning monarch stepped onto Australian soil for the first time to commence her Australian Royal Tour.[49] Having arrived on the Royal Yacht Britannia through Sydney Heads, Her Majesty came ashore at Farm Cove. Sydney's iconic Opera House was opened in 1973 by Her Majesty.

A strong rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne that began in the 1850s still exists to this day. Sydney exceeded Melbourne's population in the early twentieth century and remains Australia's largest city.[7][50] The 2000 Summer Olympics were held in Sydney and became known as the "best Olympic Games ever" by the President of the International Olympic Committee.[51] The Opera House became a World Heritage Site in 2007.[52]


Main article: Geography of Sydney


Satellite image looking west with Botany Bay on the left and Port Jackson on the right

Sydney is a coastal basin with the Tasman Sea to the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, the Hawkesbury River to the north, and the Woronora Plateau to the south. The inner city measures 25 square kilometres (10 square miles), the Greater Sydney region covers 12,367 square kilometres (4,775 square miles), and the city's urban area is 1,687 square kilometres (651 square miles) in size.[53][54][55]

Sydney spans two geographic regions. The Cumberland Plain lies to the south and west of the Harbour and is relatively flat. The Hornsby Plateau is located to the north and is dissected by steep valleys. The flat areas of the south were the first to be developed as the city grew. It was not until the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that the northern reaches of the coast became more heavily populated. Seventy beaches can be found along its coastline with Bondi Beach being one of the most famous.

Aerial view of Sydney from May 2012 looking east

The Nepean River wraps around the western edge of the city and becomes the Hawkesbury River before reaching Broken Bay. Most of Sydney's water storages can be found on tributaries of the Nepean River. The Parramatta River is mostly industrial and drains a large area of Sydney's western suburbs into Port Jackson. The southern parts of the city are drained by the Georges River and the Cooks River into Botany Bay.

In 1820s, Peter Miller Cunningham described the region west of Parramatta and Liverpool as "a fine timbered country, perfectly clear of bush, through which you might, generally speaking, drive a gig in all directions, without any impediment in the shape of rocks, scrubs, or close forest". This confirmed earlier accounts by Governor Phillip, who suggested that the trees were "growing at a distance of some twenty to forty feet from each other, and in general entirely free from brushwood..."[56]


A bushland in Sydney with eucalyptus trees (Royal National Park, Sutherland Shire)

The most prevalent plant communities in the Sydney region are Dry Sclerophyll Forests,[57] which mainly consist of eucalyptus trees and sclerophyll shrubs in the understory. Sclerophyll forests developed as a result of the extreme age of the continent combined with Aboriginal fire use. Deep weathering of the crust leached chemicals out of the rock, leaving Australian soils deficient in nutrients.

The most widespread eucalyptus species within the biome include Angophora costata (Sydney red gum), Eucalyptus piperita (Sydney peppermint), Eucalyptus sieberi (Silvertop Ash), Eucalyptus oblonga (stringybark), Eucalyptus capitellata (Brown Stringybark), Corymbia gummifera (red bloodwood), Eucalyptus racemosa (scribbly gum) and Eucalyptus haemastoma (scribbly gum). Most common shrub species include, but are not limited to, Banksia serrata, Ceratopetalum gummiferum, Banksia spinulosa and Xanthosia pilosa.[58]


Main article: Sydney Basin
Almost all of the exposed rocks around Sydney are sandstone

Sydney is made up of mostly Triassic rock with some recent igneous dykes and volcanic necks. The Sydney Basin was formed when the Earth's crust expanded, subsided, and filled with sediment in the early Triassic period.[59] The sand that was to become the sandstone of today was washed from Broken Hill and laid down about 200 million years ago. The sandstone has shale lenses and fossil riverbeds dotted throughout and it is some 200 metres (656 feet) thick. The Basin's sedimentary rocks have been subject to uplift with gentle folding and minor faulting during the formation of the Great Dividing Range.[59]

Erosion by coastal streams has created a landscape of deep gorges and remnant plateaus. The Sydney Basin bioregion includes coastal features of cliffs, beaches, and estuaries. Deep river valleys known as rias were carved during the Triassic period in the Hawkesbury sandstone of the coastal region where Sydney now lies. The rising sea level between 18,000 and 6,000 years ago flooded the rias to form estuaries and deep harbours.[59] Port Jackson, better known as Sydney Harbour, is one such ria.[60]


Main article: Climate of Sydney
The Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 2009 Australian dust storm

Under the Köppen–Geiger classification, Sydney has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa)[61] with warm summers, cool winters and uniform rainfall throughout the year.[62] At Sydney's primary weather station at Observatory Hill, extreme temperatures have ranged from 45.8 °C (114.4 °F) on 18 January 2013 to 2.1 °C (35.8 °F) on 22 June 1932;[63][64] whereas at the Sydney Airport station, extremes have ranged from 46.4 to −0.1 °C (115.5 to 31.8 °F).[65][66] An average of 14.9 days a year have temperatures at or above 30 °C (86 °F) in the CBD.[67] In contrast, the metropolitan area averages between 35 and 65 days, depending on the suburb.[68] The highest minimum temperature recorded at Observatory Hill is 27.6 °C (82 °F), in February 2011 while the lowest maximum temperature is 7.7 °C (46 °F), recorded in July 1868.[67]

The weather is moderated by proximity to the ocean, and more extreme temperatures are recorded in the inland western suburbs.[67] Sydney experiences an urban heat island effect.[69] This makes certain parts of the city more vulnerable to extreme heat.[69] In late spring and summer, temperatures over 35 °C (95 °F) are not uncommon,[70] though hot, dry conditions are usually ended by a southerly buster.[71] This powerful storm brings gale winds and rapid fall in temperature, followed by brief heavy rain and thunder.[72] Due to the inland location, frost is recorded in Western Sydney a few times in winter. Autumn and spring are the transitional seasons, with spring showing a larger temperature variation than autumn.[73]

Lightning as seen from the Sydney Harbour

The rainfall has a moderate to low variability and it is evenly spread through the months, though is slightly higher during the first half of the year.[67][74] In late autumn and winter, east coast lows may bring large amounts of rainfall, especially in the CBD.[75] Depending on the wind direction, summer weather may be humid or dry, with the late summer/autumn period having a higher average humidity and dewpoints than late spring/early summer. In summer, most rain falls from thunderstorms and in winter from cold fronts.[76] Snowfall was last reported in the Sydney City area in 1836, while a fall of graupel, or soft hail, mistaken by many for snow, in July 2008, has raised the possibility that the 1836 event was not snow, either.[77]

The city is rarely affected by cyclones, although remnants of ex-cyclones do affect the city. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation plays an important role in determining Sydney's weather patterns: drought and bushfire on the one hand, and storms and flooding on the other, associated with the opposite phases of the oscillation. Many areas of the city bordering bushland have experienced bushfires, these tend to occur during the spring and summer. The city is also prone to severe storms. One such storm was the 1999 hailstorm, which produced massive hailstones of at least 9 cm (3.5 in) in diameter.[78]

The Bureau of Meteorology has reported that 2002 through 2005 were the warmest summers in Sydney since records began in 1859.[79] The summer of 2007–08, however, proved to be the coolest since 1996–97 and is the only summer this century to be at or below average in temperatures.[80] In 2009, dry conditions brought a severe dust storm towards eastern Australia.[81][82] The average annual temperature of the sea is above 21 °C (70 °F), and the monthly average ranges from 18 °C (64 °F) in July to 24 °C (75 °F) in January.[83][84]

Climate data for Sydney (Observatory Hill)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 45.8
Average high °C (°F) 26.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 23.0
Average low °C (°F) 19.6
Record low °C (°F) 10.6
Average rainfall mm (inches) 96.0
Average rainy days 12.3 12.9 13.3 11.1 12.2 10.5 10.2 8.4 8.8 11.1 12.7 11.2 134.7
Average relative humidity (%) 61 62 60 59 58 56 52 48 50 53 57 58 56
Mean monthly sunshine hours 235.6 202.4 213.9 207.0 195.3 177.0 204.6 244.9 237.0 244.9 228.0 244.9 2,635.5
Percent possible sunshine 53 54 56 61 59 60 65 72 66 61 55 55 59.8
Source #1: Bureau of Meteorology[85] (1981-2010 averages, records 1861-)
Source #2: Bureau of Meteorology, Sydney Airport (sunshine hours)[86]

Urban structure

View of Sydney from Sydney Tower
Sydney CBD panorama from Taronga Zoo, Mosman

Lieutenant William Dawes produced a town plan in 1790 but it was ignored by the colony's leaders. Sydney's layout today reflects this lack of planning.[89] The geographical area covered by urban Sydney is divided into 658 suburbs for addressing and postal purposes and is administered as 40 local government areas.[90] The City of Sydney is responsible for 33 of these suburbs, all of which are located close to the central business district.[91]

There are 15 contiguous regions around Sydney: the CBD, Canterbury-Bankstown, the Eastern Suburbs, the Forest District, Greater Western Sydney, the Hills District, the Inner West, Macarthur, the Northern Beaches, the Northern Suburbs, the North Shore, Southern Sydney, St George, Sutherland Shire, and Western Sydney. The largest commercial centres outside of the CBD are North Sydney and Chatswood in the north, Parramatta to the west, Liverpool in the south-west, Hurstville in the south, and Bondi Junction to the east.[92] There has been accelerating commercial development in Parramatta since the 1950s as firms serving Western Sydney have set up regional offices and recognised the region's significant residential population mass and cheaper rents.[93]

Inner suburbs

The CBD itself extends about 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) south from Sydney Cove. It is bordered by Farm Cove within the Royal Botanic Garden to the east and Darling Harbour to the west. Suburbs surrounding the CBD include Woolloomooloo and Potts Point to the east, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst to the south, Pyrmont and Ultimo to the west, and Millers Point and The Rocks to the north. Most of these suburbs measure less than 1 square kilometre (0.4 square miles) in area. Several localities, distinct from suburbs, exist throughout Sydney's inner reaches. Central and Circular Quay are transport hubs with ferry, rail, and bus interchanges. Chinatown, Darling Harbour, and Kings Cross are important locations for culture, tourism, and recreation.

The Anzac Bridge spans Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Glebe Island

There is a long trend of gentrification amongst Sydney's inner suburbs. Pyrmont located on the harbour was redeveloped from a centre of shipping and international trade to an area of high density housing, tourist accommodation, and gambling.[94] Originally located well outside of the city, Darlinghurst is the location of a former gaol, manufacturing, and mixed housing. It had a period when it was known as area of prostitution. The terrace style housing has largely been retained and Darlinghurst has undergone significant gentrification since the 1980s.[95][96][97]

Green Square is a former industrial area of Waterloo which is undergoing urban renewal worth $8 billion. On the city harbour edge the historic suburb and wharves of Millers Point are being built up as the new area of Barangaroo. The Millers Point/Barangaroo development has significant controversy regardless of the $6 billion worth of economic activity it is generating.[98][99] The suburb of Paddington is a well known suburb for its streets of restored terrace houses, Victoria Barracks, and shopping including the weekly Oxford Street markets.[100]

North Shore, northern beaches and eastern suburbs

Main article: North Shore (Sydney)
The skyline of the North Sydney commercial district.

The North Shore, an informal geographic term referring to the northern metropolitan area of Sydney, consists of Artarmon, Chatswood, Roseville, Lindfield, Killara, Gordon, Pymble, Hornsby and many others. The North Shore has one of the highest property prices in Sydney with the recent property price inflation sending the average property prices in suburbs such as Roseville,[101] Lindfield, Killara[102] and Gordon over 2 million dollars. The North Shore includes the commercial centres of North Sydney and Chatswood. North Sydney itself consists of a large commercial centre, with its own business centre, which contains the second largest concentration of high-rise buildings in Sydney, after the CBD. North Sydney is dominated by advertising, marketing businesses and associated trades, with many large corporations holding office in the region.

The Lower North Shore usually refers to the suburbs adjacent to the harbour such as Neutral Bay, Waverton, Mosman, Cremorne, Cremorne Point, Lavender Bay, Milsons Point, Cammeray and North Sydney. The Lower North Shore's eastern boundary is Middle Harbour, or at the Roseville Bridge at Castle Cove and Roseville Chase. The Lower North Shore encompasses suburbs belonging to the local government areas of Municipality of Mosman, City of Willoughby, Municipality of Lane Cove, Municipality of Hunter's Hill and North Sydney Council. Taronga Zoo is situated in Mosman. The adjacent suburbs of Kirribilli and Milsons Point are the locations of Kirribilli House and Luna Park. The Upper North Shore usually refers to the suburbs between Chatswood and Hornsby. It is made up of suburbs located within Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Shire councils.

Vaucluse in the Eastern Suburbs is amongst Australia's most affluent addresses. Neighbouring suburb Point Piper contains Wolseley Road, the ninth dearest street in the world.[103] Coogee and Bondi, both known for tourism and recreation, are also found in the Eastern Suburbs. The Northern Beaches area includes Manly one of Sydney's most popular holiday destinations for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.[104]

Outer suburbs

The suburb of Cronulla in southern Sydney is close to Royal National Park, Australia's oldest national park. The Inner Western suburbs include Balmain, which was once a working class industrial and mining town but has undergone extensive gentrification.[105] The Inner West also includes Sydney Olympic Park, a suburb created to host the 2000 Summer Olympics. The greater western suburbs encompasses the areas of Parramatta, the sixth largest business district in Australia,[106] Bankstown, Liverpool, Penrith, and Fairfield. The western suburb of Prospect, in the City of Blacktown, is home to Wet'n'Wild, a water park operated by Village Roadshow Theme Parks.[107] Further to the south west is the region of Macarthur and the city of Campbelltown, a significant population centre until the 1990s considered a region separate to Sydney proper.


Many of Sydney's oldest buildings were built with materials sourced from Hawkesbury sandstone.

The earliest structures in the colony were built to the bare minimum of standards. Upon his appointment, Governor Lachlan Macquarie set ambitious targets for the architectural design of new construction projects. The city now has a world heritage listed building, several national heritage listed buildings, and dozens of Commonwealth heritage listed buildings as evidence of the survival of Macquarie's ideals.[108][109][110]

In 1814 the Governor called on a convict named Francis Greenway to design Macquarie Lighthouse.[111] The lighthouse and its Classical design earned Greenway a pardon from Macquarie in 1818 and introduced a culture of refined architecture that remains to this day.[112] Greenway went on to design the Hyde Park Barracks in 1819 and the Georgian style St James's Church in 1824.[113][114] Gothic-inspired architecture became more popular from the 1830s. John Verge's Elizabeth Bay House and St Philip's Church of 1856 were built in Gothic Revival style along with Edward Blore's Government House of 1845.[115][116] Kirribilli House, completed in 1858, and St Andrew's Cathedral, Australia's oldest cathedral,[117] are rare examples of Victorian Gothic construction.[115][118]

From the late 1850s there was a shift towards Classical architecture. Mortimer Lewis designed the Australian Museum in 1857.[119] The General Post Office, completed in 1891 in Victorian Free Classical style, was designed by James Barnet.[120] Barnet also oversaw the 1883 reconstruction of Greenway's Macquarie Lighthouse.[111][112] Customs House was built in 1844 to the specifications of Lewis, with additions from Barnet in 1887 and W L Vernon in 1899.[121] The neo-Classical and French Second Empire style Town Hall was completed in 1889.[122][123] Romanesque designs gained favour amongst Sydney's architects from the early 1890s. Sydney Technical College was completed in 1893 using both Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne approaches.[124] The Queen Victoria Building was designed in Romanesque Revival fashion by George McRae and completed in 1898.[125] It was built on the site of the Sydney Central Markets and accommodates 200 shops across its three storeys.[126]

The Great Depression had a tangible influence on Sydney's architecture. New structures became more restrained with far less ornamentation than was common before the 1930s. The most notable architectural feat of this period is the Harbour Bridge. Its steel arch was designed by John Jacob Crew Bradfield and completed in 1932. A total of 39,000 tonnes of structural steel span the 503 metres (1,650 feet) between Milsons Point and Dawes Point.[47][127]

The atrium of 1 Bligh Street, an example of Sydney's contemporary architecture

Modern and International architecture came to Sydney from the 1940s. Since its completion in 1973 the city's Opera House has become a World Heritage Site and one of the world's most renowned pieces of Modern design. It was conceived by Jørn Utzon with contributions from Peter Hall, Lionel Todd, and David Littlemore. Utzon was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2003 for his work on the Opera House.[128]

Sydney's first tower was Culwulla Chambers on the corner of King Street and Castlereagh Street which topped out at 50 metres (160 feet). With the lifting of height restrictions in the 1960s there came a surge of high-rise construction.[129] Acclaimed architects such as Jean Nouvel, Harry Seidler, Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, and Frank Gehry have each made their own contribution to the city's skyline.

Important buildings in the CBD include Citigroup Centre,[130] Aurora Place,[131] Chifley Tower,[132][133] the Reserve Bank building,[134] Deutsche Bank Place,[135] MLC Centre,[136] and Capita Centre.[137] The tallest structure is Sydney Tower, designed by Donald Crone and completed in 1981.[138] Regulations limit new buildings to a height of 235 metres (771 feet) due to the proximity of Sydney Airport, although strict restrictions employed in the early 2000s have slowly been relaxed in the past ten years.


Victorian terraces in Kings Cross exemplify the variation found in the inner suburbs.

There were 1.5 million dwellings in Sydney in 2006 including 940,000 detached houses and 180,000 semi-detached terrace houses.[139] Units or apartments make up 25.8% of Sydney's dwellings, more than the 12.8% which are semi-detached but less than the 60.9% which are separate houses.[140] Whilst terrace houses are common in the inner city areas, it is detached houses that dominate the landscape in the outer suburbs.

About 80% of all dwellings in Western Sydney are separate houses.[139] Due to environmental and economic pressures there has been a noted trend towards denser housing. There was a 30% increase in the number of apartments in Sydney between 1996 and 2006.[139] Public housing in Sydney is managed by the Government of New South Wales.[141] Suburbs with large concentrations of public housing include Claymore, Macquarie Fields, Waterloo, and Mount Druitt. The Government has announced plans to sell nearly 300 historic public housing properties in the harbourside neighbourhoods of Millers Point, Gloucester Street, and The Rocks.[142]

A range of heritage housing styles can be found throughout Sydney. Terrace houses are found in the inner suburbs such as Paddington, The Rocks, and Balmain. Federation homes, constructed around the time of Federation in 1901, are located in Penshurst, Turramurra, and in Haberfield. Haberfield is known as "The Federation Suburb" due to the extensive number of Federation homes. Workers cottages are found in Surry Hills, Redfern, and Balmain. California bungalows are common in Ashfield, Concord, and Beecroft.[143]

Parks and open spaces

The Royal Botanic Garden is the most important green space in the Sydney region, hosting both scientific and leisure activities.[144] There are 15 separate parks under the administration of the City of Sydney.[145] Parks within the city centre include Hyde Park, The Domain and Prince Alfred Park.

The outer suburbs include Centennial Park and Moore Park in the east, Sydney Park and Royal National Park in the south, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in the north, and the Western Sydney Parklands in the west. The Royal National Park was proclaimed on 26 April 1879 and with 13,200 hectares (51 square miles) is the second oldest national park in the world.[146] The largest park in the Sydney metropolitan region is Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, established in 1894 with an area of 15,400 hectares (59 square miles).[147] It is regarded for its well-preserved records of indigenous habitation and more than 800 rock engravings, cave drawings, and middens have been located in the park.[148]

The area now known as The Domain was set aside by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1788 as his private reserve.[149] Under the orders of Macquarie the land to the immediate north of The Domain became the Royal Botanic Garden in 1816. This makes them the oldest botanic garden in Australia.[149] The Gardens are not just a place for exploration and relaxation, but also for scientific research with herbarium collections, a library, and laboratories.[150] The two parks have a total area of 64 hectares (0.2 square miles) with 8,900 individual plant species and receive over 3.5 million annual visits.[151]

To the south of The Domain is Hyde Park. It is the oldest public parkland in Australia and measures 16.2 hectares (0.1 square miles) in area.[152] Its location was used for both relaxation and the grazing of animals from the earliest days of the colony.[153] Macquarie dedicated it in 1810 for the "recreation and amusement of the inhabitants of the town" and named it in honour of the original Hyde Park in London.


Main article: Economy of Sydney
The central business district of Sydney from above

Researchers from Loughborough University have ranked Sydney amongst the top ten world cities that are highly integrated into the global economy.[154] The Global Economic Power Index ranks Sydney number eleven in the world.[155] The Global Cities Index recognises it as number fourteen in the world based on global engagement.[156]

The prevailing economic theory in effect during early colonial days was mercantilism, as it was throughout most of Western Europe.[157] The economy struggled at first due to difficulties in cultivating the land and the lack of a stable monetary system. Governor Lachlan Macquarie solved the second problem by creating two coins from every Spanish silver dollar in circulation.[157] The economy was clearly capitalist in nature by the 1840s as the proportion of free settlers increased, the maritime and wool industries flourished, and the powers of the East India Company were curtailed.[157]

Wheat, gold, and other minerals became additional export industries towards the end of the 1800s.[157] Significant capital began to flow into the city from the 1870s to finance roads, railways, bridges, docks, courthouses, schools, and hospitals. Protectionist policies after federation allowed for the creation of a manufacturing industry which became the city's largest employer by the 1920s.[157] These same policies helped to relieve the effects of the Great Depression during which the unemployment rate in New South Wales reached as high as 32%.[157] From the 1960s onwards Parramatta gained recognition as the city's second central business district and finance and tourism became major industries and sources of employment.[157]

Sydney's gross regional product was $337.45 billion in 2013 with the City of Sydney responsible for $95.18 billion of this total.[20][22] The Financial and Insurance Services industry accounts for 18.1% of gross product and is ahead of Professional Services with 9% and Manufacturing with 7.2%. In addition to Financial Services and Tourism, the Creative and Technology sectors are focus industries for the City of Sydney and represented 9% and 11% of its economic output in 2012.[158][159]

Corporate citizens

There were 451,000 businesses based in Sydney in 2011, including 48% of the top 500 companies in Australia and two-thirds of the regional headquarters of multinational corporations.[160] Global companies are attracted to the city in part because its time zone spans the closing of business in North America and the opening of business in Europe. Most foreign companies in Sydney maintain significant sales and service functions but comparably less production, research, and development capabilities.[161] There are 283 multinational companies with regional offices in Sydney.[162]

Domestic economics

Sydney has been ranked between the fifteenth and the fifth most expensive city in the world and is the most expensive city in Australia.[163] To compensate, workers receive the seventh highest wage levels of any city in the world.[163] Sydney's residents possess the highest purchasing power of any city after Zürich.[163] Working residents of Sydney work an average of 1,846 hours per annum with 15 days of leave.[163]

The labour force of Sydney in 2011 was 2,188,854 with a participation rate of 61.7%.[164] It was made up of 62.1% full-time workers, 26.7% part-time workers, and 5.7% unemployed individuals.[140][165] The largest reported occupations are professionals, clerical and administrative workers, managers, technicians, trades workers, and sales workers.[140] The largest industries by employment across Sydney are Health Care and Social Assistance with 10.9%, Retail with 9.8%, Professional Services with 9.6%, Manufacturing with 8.5%, Education and Training with 7.6%, Construction with 7.1%, and Financial and Insurance Services with 6.6%.[3] The Professional Services and Financial and Insurance Services industries account for 26.9% of employment within the City of Sydney.[166] 62.8% of working age residents had a total weekly income of less than $1,000 and 29.1% had a total weekly income of $1,000 or more.[3] The median weekly income for the same period was $619 for individuals, $2,302 for families without children, and $2,537 for families with children.[140]

Unemployment in the City of Sydney averaged 4.6% for the decade to 2013, much lower than the current rate of unemployment in Western Sydney of 7.3%.[22][167] Western Sydney continues to struggle to create jobs to meet its population growth despite the development of commercial centres like Parramatta. Each day about 200,000 commuters travel from Western Sydney to the central business district and suburbs in the east and north of the city.[167]

Home ownership in Sydney was less common than renting prior to World War II but this trend has since reversed.[139] Median house prices have increased by an average of 8.6% per annum since 1970.[168][169] The median house price in Sydney in March 2014 was $630,000.[170] The primary cause for rising prices is the increasing cost of land which made up 32% of house prices in 1977 compared to 60% in 2002.[139] 31.6% of dwellings in Sydney are rented, 30.4% are owned outright, and 34.8% are owned with a mortgage.[140] 11.8% of mortgagees in 2011 had monthly loan repayments of less than $1,000 and 82.9% had monthly repayments of $1,000 or more.[3] 44.9% of renters for the same period had weekly rent of less than $350 whilst 51.7% had weekly rent of $350 or more. The median weekly rent in Sydney is $450.[3]

Financial services

Macquarie gave a charter in 1817 to form the first bank in Australia, the Bank of New South Wales.[171] New private banks opened throughout the 1800s but the financial system was unstable. Bank collapses were a frequent occurrence and a crisis point was reached in 1893 when 12 banks failed.[171]

The Bank of New South Wales exists to this day as Westpac.[172] The Commonwealth Bank of Australia was formed in Sydney in 1911 and began to issue notes backed by the resources of the nation. It was replaced in this role in 1959 by the Reserve Bank of Australia which is also based in Sydney.[171] The Australian Securities Exchange began operating in 1987 and with a market capitalisation of $1.6 trillion is now one of the ten largest exchanges in the world.[173]

The Financial and Insurance Services industry now constitutes 43% of the economic product of the City of Sydney.[21] Sydney makes up half of Australia's finance sector and has been promoted by consecutive Commonwealth Governments as Asia Pacific's leading financial centre.[23][24] Structured finance was pioneered in Sydney and the city is a leading hub for asset management firms.[174]

In 1985 the Federal Government granted 16 banking licences to foreign banks and now 40 of the 43 foreign banks operating in Australia are based in Sydney, including the People's Bank of China, Bank of America, Citigroup, UBS, Mizuho Bank, Bank of China, Banco Santander, Credit Suisse, State Street, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Royal Bank of Canada, Société Générale, Royal Bank of Scotland, Sumitomo Mitsui, ING Group, BNP Paribas, and Investec.[21][171][175][176]


Sydney has been a manufacturing city since the protectionist policies of the 1920s. By 1961 the industry accounted for 39% of all employment and by 1970 over 30% of all Australian manufacturing jobs were in Sydney.[177] Its status has declined in more recent decades, making up 12.6% of employment in 2001 and 8.5% in 2011.[3][177] Between 1970 and 1985 there was a loss of 180,000 manufacturing jobs.[177] The city is still the largest manufacturing centre in Australia. Its manufacturing output of $21.7 billion in 2013 was greater than that of Melbourne with $18.9 billion.[178] Observers have noted Sydney's focus on the domestic market and high-tech manufacturing as reasons for its resilience against the high Australian dollar of the early 2010s.[178]

Tourism and international education

Main article: Tourism in Sydney
The Queen Victoria Building, a late nineteenth century shopping centre in the central business district

Sydney is a gateway to Australia for many international visitors. It has hosted over 2.8 million international visitors in 2013, or nearly half of all international visits to Australia. These visitors spent 59 million nights in the city and a total of $5.9 billion.[26] The countries of origin in descending order were China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong, and India.[179] The city also received 8.3 million domestic overnight visitors in 2013 who spent a total of $6 billion.[179] 26,700 workers in the City of Sydney were directly employed by tourism in 2011.[180] There were 480,000 visitors and 27,500 people staying overnight each day in 2012.[180]

Tourists visiting the Sydney Opera House

On average, the tourism industry contributes $36 million to the city's economy per day.[180] Popular destinations include the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Watsons Bay, The Rocks, Sydney Tower, Darling Harbour, the Royal Botanic Garden, the Royal National Park, the Australian Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Queen Victoria Building, Taronga Zoo, Bondi Beach, the Blue Mountains, and Sydney Olympic Park.[181] Major developmental projects designed to increase Sydney's tourism sector include a casino and hotel at Barangaroo and the redevelopment of East Darling Harbour, which involves a new exhibition and convention centre that will become Australia's largest upon completion.[182][183][184]

Sydney is the highest ranking city in the world for international students. More than 50,000 international students study at the city's universities and a further 50,000 study at its vocational and English language schools.[156][185] International education contributes $1.6 billion to the local economy and creates demand for 4,000 local jobs each year.[186]


Largest overseas born populations[187]
Country of birth Population (2011)
United Kingdom United Kingdom 155,065
China China 146,853
India India 86,767
New Zealand New Zealand 77,297
Vietnam Vietnam 69,405
Philippines Philippines 61,122
Lebanon Lebanon 54,215
South Korea South Korea 39,694
Italy Italy 39,155
Hong Kong Hong Kong 36,804

The population of Sydney in 1788 was less than 1,000.[188] With convict transportation it tripled in ten years to 2,953.[189] For each decade since 1961 the population has increased by more than 250,000.[190] Sydney's population at the time of the 2011 census was 4,391,674.[140] It has been forecasted that the population will grow to between 8 and 8.5 million by 2061.[191] Despite this increase, the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicts that Melbourne will replace Sydney as Australia's most populous city by 2053.[192] The four most densely populated suburbs in Australia are located in Sydney with each having more than 13,000 residents per square kilometre (33,700 residents per square mile).[193]

Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown. Sydney is home to the largest Chinese population in Australia.[194]
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Demographic maps of Sydney.

The median age of Sydney residents is 36 and 12.9% of people are 65 or older.[140] The married population accounts for 49.7% of Sydney whilst 34.7% of people have never been married.[140] 48.9% of couples have children and 33.5% of couples do not.[140] 32.5% of people in Sydney speak a language other than English at home with Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Greek the most widely spoken.[140][13]

There were 54,746 people of indigenous heritage living in Sydney in 2011.[140] Most immigrants to Sydney between 1840 and 1930 were British, Irish, or Chinese. There were significant clusters of people based on nationality or religion throughout the history of Sydney development. In the early 20th century Irish people were centred in Surry Hills, the Scottish in Paddington.

The mass migration following World War II has seen further ethnic groups establish. Such ethnic groups include, but are not limited to, Dutch,[195] Sri Lankan,[196] Indian,[197] Assyrian,[198][199][200] Turkish,[201][202] Thai,[203] Russian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Greek, Lebanese, Italian, Jewish, Czech, Polish, German, Serbian, Macedonian, and Maltese communities.[188] As of the 2011 census night there were 1,503,620 people living in Sydney that were born overseas, accounting for 42.5% of the population of the City of Sydney and 34.2% of the population of Sydney, the seventh greatest proportion of any city in the world.[3][204][205]

Sydney's largest ancestry groups are English, Australian, Irish, Chinese, and Scottish.[140] Foreign countries of birth with the greatest representation are England, China, India, New Zealand, and Vietnam.[140] The concentration of immigrants in Sydney, relative to the rest of Australia (excluding Melbourne), make it the exception rather than the norm on having such a high foreign born population.


Main article: Culture of Sydney
The Art Gallery of New South Wales, located in The Domain, is the fourth largest public gallery in Australia

Science, art, and history

The Australian Museum opened in Sydney in 1857 with the purpose of collecting and displaying the natural wealth of the colony.[206] It remains Australia's oldest natural history museum. In 1995 the Museum of Sydney opened on the site of the first Government House. It recounts the story of the city's development.[207] Other museums based in Sydney include the Powerhouse Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum.[208][209]

In 1866 then Queen Victoria gave her assent to the formation of the Royal Society of New South Wales. The Society exists "for the encouragement of studies and investigations in science, art, literature, and philosophy". It is based in a terrace house in Darlington owned by the University of Sydney.[210] The Sydney Observatory building was constructed in 1859 and used for astronomy and meteorology research until 1982 before being converted into a museum.[211]

The Anzac War Memorial in Hyde Park is a public memorial dedicated to the achievement of the Australian Imperial Force of World War I.[212]

The Museum of Contemporary Art was opened in 1991 and occupies an Art Deco building in Circular Quay. Its collection was founded in the 1940s by artist and art collector John Power and has been maintained by the University of Sydney.[213] Sydney's other significant art institution is the Art Gallery of New South Wales which coordinates the coveted Archibald Prize for portraiture.[214] Contemporary art galleries are found in Waterloo, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Paddington, Chippendale, Newtown, and Woollahra.


The State Theatre on Market Street was opened in 1929.

Sydney's first commercial theatre opened in 1832 and nine more had commenced performances by the late 1920s. The live medium lost much of its popularity to cinema during the Great Depression before experiencing a revival after World War II.[215] Prominent theatres in the city today include State Theatre, Theatre Royal, Sydney Theatre, The Wharf Theatre, and Capitol Theatre. Sydney Theatre Company maintains a roster of local, classical, and international plays. It occasionally features Australian theatre icons such as David Williamson, Hugo Weaving, and Geoffrey Rush. The city's other prominent theatre companies are New Theatre, Belvoir, and Griffin Theatre Company.

The Sydney Opera House is the home of Opera Australia and Sydney Symphony. It has staged over 100,000 performances and received 100 million visitors since opening in 1973.[128] Two other important performance venues in Sydney are Town Hall and the City Recital Hall. The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is located adjacent to the Royal Botanic Garden and serves the Australian music community through education and its biannual Australian Music Examinations Board exams.[216]

Filmmaking in Sydney was quite prolific until the 1920s when spoken films were introduced and American productions gained dominance in Australian cinema.[217] Fox Studios Australia commenced production in Sydney in 1998. Successful films shot in Sydney since then include The Matrix, Mission: Impossible II, Moulin Rouge!, Australia, and The Great Gatsby. The National Institute of Dramatic Art is based in Sydney and has several famous alumni such as Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, Baz Luhrmann, and Cate Blanchett.[218]

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House illuminated during the 2015 Vivid Sydney festival of light

Sydney is the host of several festivals throughout the year. The city's New Year's Eve celebrations are the largest in Australia.[219] The Royal Easter Show is held every year at Sydney Olympic Park. Sydney Festival is Australia's largest arts festival.[220] Big Day Out is a travelling rock music festival that originated in Sydney. The city's two largest film festivals are Sydney Film Festival and Tropfest. Vivid Sydney is an annual outdoor exhibition of art installations, light projections, and music.

In 2015, Sydney was ranked 15th for being the top fashion capitals in the world.[221] It hosts the Australian Fashion Week in autumn. The Sydney Mardi Gras has commenced each February since 1979. Sydney's Chinatown has had numerous locations since the 1850s. It moved from George Street to Campbell Street to its current setting in Dixon Street in 1980.[222] The Spanish Quarter is based in Liverpool Street whilst Little Italy is located in Stanley Street.[157] Popular nightspots are found at Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Circular Quay, and The Rocks. The Star is the city's only casino and is situated around Darling Harbour.


The indigenous people of Sydney held totemic beliefs known as "dreamings". Governor Lachlan Macquarie made an effort to found a culture of formal religion throughout the early settlement and ordered the construction of churches such as St Matthew's, St Luke's, St James's, and St Andrew's.[223] These and other religious institutions have contributed to the education and health of Sydney's residents over time. 28.3% identify themselves as Catholic, whilst 17.6% practice no religion, 16.1% are Anglican, 4.7% are Muslim, 4.2% are Eastern Orthodox, 4.1% are Buddhist, 2.6% are Hindu, and 0.9% are Jewish.[3][140]

Sport and outdoor activities

Sydney's earliest migrants brought with them a passion for sport but were restricted by the lack of facilities and equipment. The first organised sports were boxing, wrestling, and horse racing from 1810 in Hyde Park.[224] Horse racing remains popular to this day and events such as the Golden Slipper Stakes attract widespread attention. The first cricket club was formed in 1826 and matches were played within Hyde Park throughout the 1830s and 1840s.[224] Cricket is a favoured sport in summer and big matches have been held at the Sydney Cricket Ground since 1878. The New South Wales Blues compete in the Sheffield Shield league and the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder contest the national Big Bash Twenty20 competition.

International Twenty20 cricket matches have been hosted annually at Stadium Australia since 2012.

Rugby was played from 1865 as sport in general gained more popularity and better organisation. One-tenth of the colony attended a New South Wales versus New Zealand rugby match in 1907.[224] Rugby league separated from rugby union in 1908. The New South Wales Waratahs contest the Super Rugby competition. The national Wallabies rugby union team competes in Sydney in international matches such as the Bledisloe Cup, Rugby Championship, and World Cup. Sydney is home to nine of the sixteen teams in the National Rugby League competition: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, Manly Sea Eagles, Penrith Panthers, Parramatta Eels, South Sydney Rabbitohs, St George Illawarra Dragons, Sydney Roosters, and Wests Tigers. New South Wales contests the annual State of Origin series against Queensland.

Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers compete in the A-League soccer tournament and Sydney frequently hosts matches for the Australian national team, the Socceroos. The Sydney Swans and the Greater Western Sydney Giants are local Australian rules football clubs that play in the Australian Football League. The Sydney Kings compete in the National Basketball League. The Sydney Uni Flames play in the Women's National Basketball League. The Sydney Blue Sox contest the Australian Baseball League. The Waratahs are a member of the Australian Hockey League. The Sydney Bears and Sydney Ice Dogs play in the Australian Ice Hockey League. The Swifts are competitors in the national women's netball league.

Sailing on Sydney Harbour

Women were first allowed to participate in recreational swimming when separate baths were opened at Woolloomooloo Bay in the 1830s. From being illegal at the beginning of the century, sea bathing gained immense popularity during the early 1900s and the first surf lifesaving club was established at Bondi Beach.[224][225] Disputes about appropriate clothing for surf bathing surfaced from time to time and concerned men as well as women. The City2Surf is an annual 14-kilometre (8.7-mile) running race from the central business district to Bondi Beach and has been held since 1971. In 2010, 80,000 runners participated which made it the largest run of its kind in the world.[226]

Sailing races have been held on Sydney Harbour since 1827.[227] Yachting has been popular amongst wealthier residents since the 1840s and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron was founded in 1862. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is a 1,170-kilometre (727-mile) event that starts from Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day.[228] Since its inception in 1945 it has been recognised as one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.[229] Six sailors died and 71 vessels of the fleet of 115 failed to finish in the 1998 edition.[230]

The Royal Sydney Golf Club is based in Rose Bay and since its opening in 1893 has hosted the Australian Open on 13 occasions.[224] Royal Randwick Racecourse opened in 1833 and holds several major cups throughout the year.[231] Sydney benefitted from the construction of significant sporting infrastructure in preparation for its hosting of the 2000 Summer Olympics. Sydney Olympic Park accommodates athletics, aquatics, tennis, hockey, archery, baseball, cycling, equestrian, and rowing facilities. It also includes the high capacity Stadium Australia used for rugby, soccer, and Australian rules football. Sydney Football Stadium was completed in 1988 and is used for rugby and soccer matches. Sydney Cricket Ground was opened in 1878 and is used for both cricket and Australian rules football fixtures.[224]


Main article: Media in Sydney

The Sydney Morning Herald is Australia's oldest newspaper still in print. Now a compact form paper owned by Fairfax Media, it has been published continuously since 1831.[232] Its competitor is the News Corporation tabloid The Daily Telegraph which has been in print since 1879.[233] Both papers have Sunday tabloid editions called The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Telegraph respectively. The Bulletin was founded in Sydney in 1880 and became Australia's longest running magazine. It closed after 128 years of continuous publication.[234]

Each of Australia's three commercial television networks and two public broadcasters is headquartered in Sydney. Nine's offices are based in Willoughby,[235] Ten and Seven are based in Pyrmont,[235][236] the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is located in Ultimo,[237] and the Special Broadcasting Service is based in Artarmon.[238] Multiple digital channels have been provided by all five networks since 2000. Foxtel is based in North Ryde and sells subscription cable television to most parts of the urban area.[239] Sydney's first radio stations commenced broadcasting in the 1920s. Radio became a popular tool for politics, news, religion, and sport and has managed to survive despite the introduction of television and the Internet.[240] 2UE was founded in 1925 and under the ownership of Fairfax Media is the oldest station still broadcasting.[240] Competing stations include the more popular 2GB, 702 ABC Sydney, KIIS 106.5, Triple M, Nova 96.9, and 2Day FM.[241]


Historical governance

The Old Registry Office, now part of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, was one of three of the earliest established courts in Sydney.

During early colonial times the presiding Governor and his military shared absolute control over the population.[36] This lack of democracy eventually became unacceptable for the colony's growing number of free settlers. The first indications of a proper legal system emerged with the passing of a Charter of Justice in 1814. It established three new courts, including the Supreme Court, and dictated that English law was to be followed.[242] In 1823 the British Parliament passed an act to create the Legislative Council in New South Wales and give the Supreme Court the right of review over new legislation.[243] From 1828 all of the common laws in force in England were to be applied in New South Wales wherever it was appropriate.[243] Another act from the British Parliament in 1842 provided for members of the Council to be elected for the first time.[243]

The Constitution Act of 1855 gave New South Wales a bicameral government. The existing Legislative Council became the upper house and a new body called the Legislative Assembly was formed to be the lower house.[244] An Executive Council was introduced and constituted five members of the Legislative Assembly and the Governor.[245] It became responsible for advising the ruling Governor on matters related to the administration of the state. The colonial settlements elsewhere on the continent eventually seceded from New South Wales and formed their own governments. Tasmania separated in 1825, Victoria did so in 1850, and Queensland followed in 1859.[244] With the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 the status of local governments across Sydney was formalised and they became separate institutions from the state of New South Wales.[246]

Government in the present

Sydney is divided into local government areas (also known as councils or shires) which are comparable in nature to London's boroughs. These local government areas have elected councils which are responsible for functions delegated to them by the New South Wales Government. The 31 local government areas making up Sydney according to the New South Wales Division of Local Government are:

The Parliament of New South Wales sits in Parliament House on Macquarie Street. This building was completed in 1816 and first served as a hospital. The Legislative Council moved into its northern wing in 1829 and by 1852 had entirely supplanted the surgeons from their quarters.[242] Several additions have been made to the building as the Parliament has expanded, but it retains its original Georgian façade.[247] Government House was completed in 1845 and has served as the home of 25 Governors and 5 Governors-General.[248]

Sydney's local government areas

The highest court in the state is the Supreme Court of New South Wales which is located in Queen's Square in Sydney.[249] The city is also the home of numerous branches of the intermediate District Court of New South Wales and the lower Local Court of New South Wales.[250]

Public activities such as main roads, traffic control, public transport, policing, education, and major infrastructure projects are controlled by the New South Wales Government.[251] It has tended to resist attempts to amalgamate Sydney's more populated local government areas as merged councils could pose a threat to its governmental power.[252] Established in 1842, the City of Sydney is one such local government area and includes the central business district and some adjoining inner suburbs.[253] It is responsible for fostering development in the local area, providing local services (waste collection and recycling, libraries, parks, sporting facilities), representing and promoting the interests of residents, supporting organisations that target the local community, and attracting and providing infrastructure for commerce, tourism, and industry.[254] The City of Sydney is led by an elected Council and Lord Mayor who has in the past been treated as a representative of the entire city.[255]



Main article: Education in Sydney
The Madsen Building houses geoscience at the University of Sydney

Education became a proper focus for the colony from the 1870s when public schools began to form and schooling became compulsory.[256] The population of Sydney is now highly educated. 90% of working age residents have completed some schooling and 57% have completed the highest level of school.[3] 1,390,703 people were enrolled in an educational institution in 2011 with 45.1% of these attending school and 16.5% studying at a university.[140] Undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications are held by 22.5% of working age Sydney residents and 40.2% of working age residents of the City of Sydney.[3][257] The most common fields of tertiary qualification are commerce (22.8%), engineering (13.4%), society and culture (10.8%), health (7.8%), and education (6.6%).[3]

There are six public universities based in Sydney: the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University, the Western Sydney University, and the Australian Catholic University. Four public universities maintain secondary campuses in the city: the University of Notre Dame Australia, the University of Wollongong, Curtin University of Technology, and the University of Newcastle. 5.2% of residents of Sydney are attending a university.[258] The University of Sydney was established in 1850 and remains the oldest university in Australia while the other city's universities were all founded after World War II. The Universities of New South Wales and Sydney are similarly ranked in the top 50 in the world, the University of Technology Sydney is ranked 193, while Macquarie University ranks 237, and the Western Sydney University below 500.[259]

Sydney has public, denominational, and independent schools. 7.8% of Sydney residents are attending primary school and 6.4% are enrolled in secondary school.[258] There are 935 public preschool, primary, and secondary schools in Sydney that are administered by the New South Wales Department of Education.[260] 14 of the 17 selective secondary schools in New South Wales are based in Sydney.[261]

Public vocational education and training in Sydney is run by TAFE New South Wales and began with the opening of the Sydney Technical College in 1878. It offered courses in areas such as mechanical drawing, applied mathematics, steam engines, simple surgery, and English grammar.[124] The college became the Sydney Institute in 1992 and now operates alongside its sister TAFE facilities across the Sydney metropolitan area, namely the Northern Sydney Institute, the Western Sydney Institute, and the South Western Sydney Institute. At the 2011 census, 2.4% of Sydney residents are enrolled in a TAFE course.[258]


The Nightingale Wing of the Sydney Hospital, the oldest hospital in the city.

The first hospital in the new colony was a collection of tents at The Rocks. Many of the convicts that survived the trip from England continued to suffer from dysentery, smallpox, scurvy, and typhoid. Healthcare facilities remained hopelessly inadequate despite the arrival of a prefabricated hospital with the Second Fleet and the construction of brand new hospitals at Parramatta, Windsor, and Liverpool in the 1790s.[262] Governor Lachlan Macquarie arranged for the construction of Sydney Hospital and saw it completed in 1816.[262] Parts of the facility have been repurposed for use as Parliament House but the hospital itself still operates to this day. The city's first emergency department was established at Sydney Hospital in 1870. Demand for emergency medical care increased from 1895 with the introduction of an ambulance service.[262] The Sydney Hospital also housed Australia's first teaching facility for nurses, the Nightingale Wing, established with the input of Florence Nightingale in 1868.[263]

Healthcare gained recognition as a citizen's right in the early 1900s and Sydney's public hospitals came under the oversight of the Government of New South Wales.[262] The administration of healthcare across Sydney is handled by eight local health districts: Central Coast, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains, Northern Sydney, South Eastern Sydney, South Western Sydney, and Western Sydney.[264] The Prince of Wales Hospital was established in 1852 and became the first of several major hospitals to be opened in the coming decades.[265] St Vincent's Hospital was founded in 1857,[97] followed by Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in 1880,[266] the Prince Henry Hospital in 1881,[267] the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 1882,[268] the Royal North Shore Hospital in 1885,[269] the St George Hospital in 1894,[270] and the Nepean Hospital in 1895.[271] Westmead Hospital in 1978 was the last major facility to open.[272]


Sydney Harbour Bridge (southern approach shown) carries trains, motorised vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians

The motor vehicle, more than any other factor, has determined the pattern of Sydney's urban development since World War II.[273] The growth of low density housing in the city's outer suburbs has made car ownership necessary for hundreds of thousands of households. The percentage of trips taken by car has increased from 13% in 1947 to 50% in 1960 and to 70% in 1971.[273] The most important roads in Sydney were the nine Metroads, including the 110-kilometre (68-mile) Sydney Orbital Network. Widespread criticism over Sydney's reliance on sprawling road networks, as well as the motor vehicle, have stemmed largely from proponents of mass public transport and high density housing.[274][275][276]

There can be up to 350,000 cars using Sydney's roads simultaneously during peak hour, leading to significant traffic congestion.[273] 84.9% of Sydney households own a motor vehicle and 46.5% own two or more.[140] Car dependency is high in Sydneyof people that travel to work, 58.4% use a car, 9.1% catch a train, 5.2% take a bus, and 4.1% walk.[140] In contrast, only 25.2% of working residents in the City of Sydney use a car, whilst 15.8% take a train, 13.3% use a bus, and 25.3% walk.[277] With a rate of 26.3%, Sydney has the highest utilisation of public transport for travel to work of any Australian capital city.[278]

Sydney once had one of the largest tram networks in the world. It was the second largest in the British Empire, after London, with routes covering 291 kilometres (181 miles). The internal combustion engine made buses more flexible than trams and consequently more popular, leading to the progressive closure of the tram network with the final tram operating in 1961.[273] From 1930 there were 612 buses across Sydney carrying 90 million passengers per annum.[279] A 12.8-kilometre (8.0-mile) light rail network opened in 1997. It links the Inner West and Darling Harbour with Central Station and carries 4.5 million passengers per annum.[280] A second 12 km (7.5 mi) line serving the CBD and south-eastern suburbs is planned to open in early 2019.[281]

Bus services today are conducted by a mixture of Government and private operators. In areas previously serviced by trams the government State Transit Authority of New South Wales operates, in other areas, there are private (albeit part funded by the state government) operators. Integrated tickets called Opals operate on both Government and private bus routes. State Transit alone operated a fleet of 2,169 buses and serviced over 160 million passengers during 2014. In total, nearly 225 million boardings were recorded across the bus network [282] NightRide is a nightly bus service that operate between midnight and 5am, also replacing trains for most of this period.

The Grand Concourse at Central Station

Train services are today operated by Transport for New South Wales. It maintains 176 stations and 937 kilometres (582 miles) of railway and provides 281 million journeys each year.[283] Sydney's railway was first constructed in 1854 with progressive extension to the network to serve both freight and passengers across the city, suburbs, and beyond to country NSW. In the 1850s and 1860s the railway reached Parramatta, Campbelltown, Liverpool, Blacktown, Penrith, and Richmond.[273] Central Station opened for service in 1906 and is the main hub of the city's rail network.[284]

Prior to 1906, Central Railway was located further west of the current Central Railway Station in the vicinity of Redfern. A large infrastructure project worth $1 billion and known as Clearways was completed in 2014 with the purpose of easing railway congestion.[285] In 2014 94.2% of trains arrived on time and 99.5% of services ran as scheduled.[286][287] Construction of Sydney Metro, an automated rapid transit system separate from the existing suburban network, started in 2013.[288][289][290][291] The first stage is expected to open in 2019, with plans in place to extend the system through the central business district by 2024.[292][293]

At the time the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in 1932, the city's ferry service was the largest in the world.[294] Patronage declined from 37 million passengers in 1945 to 11 million in 1963 but has recovered somewhat in recent years.[273] From its hub at Circular Quay the ferry network serves Balmain, Double Bay, Manly, Parramatta, Taronga Zoo, Darling Harbour, and Cockatoo Island.[294] Sydney Airport, officially "Sydney Kingsford-Smith Airport", is located in the inner southern suburb of Mascot with two of the runways going into Botany Bay. Kingsford-Smith Airport is one of the world's oldest continually operating airports.[295] It services 46 international and 23 domestic destinations.[295] As the busiest airport in Australia it handled 37.9 million passengers in 2013 and 530,000 tonnes of freight in 2011.[295] It has been announced that a new facility named Western Sydney Airport will be constructed at Badgerys Creek from 2016 at a cost of $2.5 billion.[296] Bankstown Airport is Sydney's second busiest airport, and serves general aviation, charter and some scheduled cargo flights. Bankstown is also the fourth busiest airport in Australia by number of aircraft movements.[297] Port Botany has surpassed Port Jackson as the city's major shipping port. Cruise ship terminals are located at Sydney Cove and White Bay.

Environmental issues and pollution reduction

A cyclist in the city centre

As climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution have become a major issue for Australia, Sydney has in the past been criticised for its lack of focus on reducing pollution, cutting back on emissions and maintaining water quality.[298] Since 1995, there have been significant developments in the analysis of air pollution in the Sydney metropolitan region. The development led to the release of the Metropolitan Air Quality Scheme (MAQS), which led to a broader understanding of the causation of pollution in Sydney, allowing the government to form appropriate responses to the pollution.[299]

Australian cities are some of the most car dependent cities in the world.[300] Sydney in particular has a very high level of car dependency,[301] especially by world city standards. It also has a low level of mass-transit services, with a historically low-density layout and significant urban sprawl, thus increasing the likelihood of car dependency.[302][303] Strategies have been implemented to reduce private vehicle pollution by encouraging mass and public transit,[304] initiating the development of high density housing and introducing a fleet of 10 new Nissan LEAF electric cars, the largest order of the pollution-free vehicle in Australia.[305] Electric cars do not produce carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide, gases which contribute to climate change.[306][307] Cycling trips have increased by 113% across Sydney's inner-city since March 2010, with about 2,000 bikes passing through top peak-hour intersections on an average weekday.[308] Transport developments in the north-west and east of the city have been designed to encourage the use of Sydney's expanding public transportation system.

The City of Sydney became the first council in Australia to achieve formal certification as carbon-neutral in 2008.[309][310] The city has reduced its 2007 carbon emissions by 6% and since 2006 has reduced carbon emissions from city buildings by up to 20%.[308][311] The City of Sydney introduced a Sustainable Sydney 2030 program, with various targets planned and a comprehensive guide on how to reduce energy in homes and offices within Sydney by 30%.[308][312] Reductions in energy consumption have slashed energy bills by $30 million a year.[313] Solar panels have been established on many CBD buildings in an effort to minimise carbon pollution by around 3,000 tonnes a year.[314]

The city also has an "urban forest growth strategy", in which it aims to regular increase the tree coverage in the city by frequently planting trees and vegetation to provide cleaner air and create moisture during hot weather, thus lowering city temperatures.[315] Sydney has also become a leader in the development of green office buildings and enforcing the requirement of all building proposals to be energy-efficient. The One Central Park development, completed in 2013, is an example of this implementation and design.[316][317][318][319]


Warragamba Dam is Sydney's largest water supply dam.

Obtaining sufficient fresh water was difficult during early colonial times. A catchment called the Tank Stream sourced water from what is now the central business district but was little more than an open sewer by the end of the 1700s.[320] The Botany Swamps Scheme was one of several ventures during the mid 1800s that saw the construction of wells, tunnels, steam pumping stations, and small dams to service Sydney's growing population.[320]

The first genuine solution to Sydney's water demands was the Upper Nepean Scheme which came into operation in 1886 and cost over £2 million. It transports water 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the Nepean, Cataract, and Cordeaux rivers and continues to service about 15% of Sydney's total water needs.[320] Dams were built on these three rivers between 1907 and 1935.[320] In 1977 the Shoalhaven Scheme brought several more dams into service.[321]

The Sydney Catchment Authority now manages eleven major dams: Warragamba one of the largest domestic water supply dams in the world,[322] Woronora, Cataract, Cordeaux, Nepean, Avon, Wingecarribee Reservoir, Fitzroy Falls Reservoir, Tallowa, the Blue Mountains Dams, and Prospect Reservoir.[323] Water is collected from five catchment areas covering 16,000 square kilometres (6,178 square miles) and total storage amounts to 2.6 teralitres (0.6 cubic miles).[323] The Sydney Desalination Plant came into operation in 2010.[320]

The two distributors which maintain Sydney's electricity infrastructure are Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy.[324][325] Their combined networks include over 815,000 power poles and 83,000 kilometres (52,000 miles) of electricity cables.

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