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New South Wales
Sydney skyline at dusk - Dec 2008.jpg
Sydney is located in Australia
Coordinates 33°51′35.9″S 151°12′40″E / 33.859972°S 151.21111°E / -33.859972; 151.21111Coordinates: 33°51′35.9″S 151°12′40″E / 33.859972°S 151.21111°E / -33.859972; 151.21111
Population 4,627,345 (2011)[1] (1st)
 • Density 380/km2 (980/sq mi) (2013)[2]
Established 26 January 1788
Area 12,144.6 km2 (4,689.1 sq mi)
Time zone AEST (UTC+10)
 • Summer (DST) AEDT (UTC+11)
LGA(s) various (38)
County Cumberland
State electorate(s) various (49)
Federal Division(s) various (24)
Mean max temp[3] Mean min temp[3] Annual rainfall[3]
21.7 °C
71 °F
13.8 °C
57 °F
1,213.8 mm
47.8 in

Sydney /ˈsɪdni/[4] is the state capital of New South Wales, the most populous city in Australia. It is on Australia's south-east coast, on the Tasman Sea of the Pacific Ocean. In June 2010 the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people.[1] Inhabitants of Sydney are called Sydneysiders, comprising a cosmopolitan and international population.[5]

The site of the first British colony in Australia, Sydney was established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip, of the First Fleet, as a penal colony.[6][7] The city is built on hills surrounding one of the world's largest natural harbours,[8] which is commonly known as Sydney Harbour, where the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are prominent structures. The hinterland of the metropolitan area is surrounded by national parks, and the coastal regions feature many bays, rivers, inlets and beaches, including the famous Bondi and Manly beaches. Within the city are many parklands, including Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Sydney is a consistently high-ranking world city for quality of life and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked it the world's third most expensive city in 2013.[9] It has hosted multiple major international sporting events, including the 1938 British Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games), the 2000 Summer Olympics and the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The main airport serving Sydney is Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport [10] and its main port is Port Botany.


Radio carbon dating suggests that the Sydney region has been inhabited by indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years.[11] The historic indigenous inhabitants of Sydney Cove are the Cadigal people, whose land once stretched from south of Port Jackson to Petersham.[12] While estimates of the population before the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 remain contentious, an estimated 4,000–8,000 Aboriginal people lived in the Sydney region before contact with British settlers. The British called the indigenous people the "Eora";[13] when asked where they came from these people would answer: Eora, meaning "here", or "from this place" in their language.[12]

The three language groups in the Sydney region were divided into dialects, spoken by smaller clans. The principal languages were Darug (the Cadigal, inhabitants of the area of present-day City of Sydney, spoke a coastal dialect of Darug), Dharawal and Guringai. Each clan had a territory, and the location of each territory determined the resources available. Although urbanisation has destroyed much earlier evidence of these settlements, such as shell middens, a number of Sydney rock engravings, carvings and rock art remain visible in the Hawkesbury sandstone of the Sydney basin.[14]

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

In 1770, Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula.[15] Here Cook made first contact with an Aboriginal community known as the Gweagal.[16] Under instruction from the British government, Arthur Phillip founded a convict settlement in the area, arriving at Botany Bay with a fleet of 11 ships on 18 January 1788. Closer examination determined the site to be unsuitable for habitation, owing to poor soil and a lack of reliable fresh water. Phillip subsequently founded the colony one inlet further north along the coast, at Sydney Cove on Port Jackson on 26 January 1788. The official proclamation of the founding and naming of Sydney took place nearly two weeks later on 7 February 1788. The original name was intended to be Albion, but Phillip named the settlement after the British Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney, in recognition of Lord Sydney's role in issuing the charter authorising Phillip to establish the colony.[17]

In April 1789, a catastrophic epidemic disease, spread through the Eora people and surrounding groups, with the result that local Aborigines died by the thousands. Their bodies could often be seen bobbing in the water in Sydney Harbour.[18] Because the Eora had no immunity to such Eurasian endemic diseases, the results were catastrophic for them. By the early 1800s, the Aboriginal population of the Sydney basin "had been reduced to only 10 percent of the 1788 estimate"[citation needed] or an estimated 500 to 1000 Aboriginal people between Broken Bay and Botany Bay.[13]

Sydney harbour in 1932

Some indigenous people mounted violent resistance to British settlement, notably by the warrior Pemulwuy in the area around Botany Bay. Conflicts were common in the area surrounding the Hawkesbury River. By 1820 only a few hundred Aborigines survived. Governor Lachlan Macquarie had begun initiatives to 'civilise, Christianise and educate' the Aborigines by removing children from their clans and placing them with British households.[13] Macquarie's tenure as Governor of New South Wales was a period when Sydney was improved from its basic beginnings. Roads, bridges, wharves and public buildings were constructed by British and Irish convicts. By 1822 the town had banks, markets, well-established thoroughfares and an organised constabulary.

The 1830s and 1840s were periods of urban development, which included the first suburbs. The town grew rapidly with the arrival of British and Irish immigrants seeking a new life in a new country. On 20 July 1842 the municipal council of Sydney was incorporated. The town was designated as the first city in Australia, with John Hosking elected as its first mayor.[19] Rapid suburban development began in the last quarter of the 19th century with the advent of steam-powered tramways and railways easing commutes to work. With industrialisation, Sydney expanded rapidly and, by the early 20th century, it had a population of more than a million. In 1929, the novelist Arthur Henry Adams called it the "Siren City of the South" and the "Athens of Australia".[20]

The Great Depression hit Sydney hard in comparison to other Australian cities.[21][22] One of the highlights of the Depression era, however, was the completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.[23]

There has been a rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne since the gold rushes of the 1850s made the latter, capital of Victoria, Australia's largest and richest city.[24] Sydney overtook Melbourne in population in the early years of the 20th century,[25] and continues to be the largest city in Australia. During the 1970s and 1980s, Sydney's central business district (CBD), with a great number of financial institutions including the headquarters of the Reserve Bank, surpassed Melbourne as the nation's financial capital.[26]



Aerial view of Sydney (May 2012) looking east.
Satellite image looking west, with Botany Bay on the left and Port Jackson on the right, showing the extent of the city.

Sydney's urban area is in a coastal basin, which is bordered by the Tasman Sea to the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, the Hawkesbury River to the north and the Royal National Park to the south. It lies on a submergent coastline, where the ocean level has risen to flood deep river valleys (ria) carved in the Hawkesbury sandstone. Port Jackson, better known as Sydney Harbour, is one such ria.[27]

The urban area has nearly 70 harbour and ocean beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney's urban area covers 1,687 km2 (651 sq mi) as of 2001.[28] The Sydney Statistical Division, used for census data, is the unofficial metropolitan area[29] and covers 12,145 km2 (4,689 sq mi).[30] This area includes the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, and national parks and other unurbanised land.

Geographically, Sydney lies over two regions: the Cumberland Plain, a relatively flat region lying to the south and west of the harbour, and the Hornsby Plateau, a sandstone plateau lying mainly to the north of the harbour and dissected by steep valleys. The parts of the city with the oldest European development are located in the flat areas south of the harbour. The North Shore was slower to develop because of its hilly topography and lack of access across the harbour. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932 and linked the North Shore to the rest of the city.[31]


Sydney is mostly Triassic rock, with some recent igneous dykes and volcanic necks. The Hawkesbury sandstone is some 200 metres (660 ft) thick, with shale lenses and fossil riverbeds dotted throughout it. Almost all of the rocks exposed around Sydney are sandstone. The sand that was to become this sandstone was washed from Broken Hill and laid down in the Triassic period, about two hundred million years ago, a time when plants were ferns, reptiles were becoming dinosaurs, and mammals did not yet exist. The Sydney Basin sits on the east coast of Australia, which is made up of a basin filled with near horizontal sandstones and shales of Permian to Triassic age that overlie older basement rocks of the Lachlan Fold Belt. The sedimentary rocks have been subject to uplift with gentle folding and minor faulting during the formation of the Great Dividing Range. Erosion by coastal streams has created a landscape of deep gorges and remnant plateaus. The Sydney Basin bioregion includes coastal landscapes of cliffs, beaches and estuaries.[32]


Sydney has a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters, with rainfall spread throughout the year.[33] The weather is moderated by proximity to the ocean, and more extreme temperatures are recorded in the inland western suburbs. The warmest months are January and February, with an average air temperature range at Observatory Hill of 18.7–25.9 °C (65.7–78.6 °F) for January and 18.8–25.8 °C (65.8–78.4 °F) for February.[3] An average of 14.9 days a year have temperatures of more than 30 °C (86 °F).[3]

In winter, temperatures rarely drop below 5 °C (41 °F) in coastal areas. The coldest month is July, with an average range of 8.0–16.3 °C (46.4–61.3 °F).[3] Rainfall is fairly evenly spread through the year, but is slightly higher during the first half of the year. The average annual rainfall, with moderate to low variability, is 1,213.8 mm (47.79 in), with rain falling on an average of 143.5 days a year.[34][3] 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.[35][36] 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, the lowest recorded minimum at Observatory Hill.[37][38] At the Sydney Airport station, extremes have ranged from 46.4 °C (115.5 °F) to −0.1 °C (31.8 °F).[39]

The city is not 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 hail storms and wind storms. One such storm was the 1999 hailstorm, which severely damaged Sydney's eastern and city suburbs. The storm produced massive hailstones of at least 9 cm (3.5 in) in diameter and resulting in insurance losses of around A$1.7 billion in less than five hours.[40]

The Bureau of Meteorology has reported that 2002 through 2005 were the warmest summers in Sydney since records began in 1859.[41] The summer of 2007–2008, however, proved to be one of the coolest summers on record.[42] Warmer and drier conditions came back in 2009 and 2010, when above-average temperatures were recorded. In 2009, the dry conditions brought a severe dust storm towards eastern Australia.[43][44] In 2011, above-average rainfall was recorded.[45]

On 18 January 2013, Sydney experienced record-breaking temperatures with 45.8 °C (114 °F) recorded at Observatory Hill.[46] 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.[3]

The average annual temperature of the sea is above 20 °C (68 °F), and the monthly average ranges from 18 °C (64 °F) in July to 23 °C (73 °F) in January.[47][48]

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) 25.9
Average low °C (°F) 18.7
Record low °C (°F) 10.6
Rainfall mm (inches) 101.7
Avg. rainy days 12.2 12.5 13.5 12.8 13.1 12.5 11.2 10.4 10.5 11.6 11.7 11.5 143.5
Mean daily sunshine hours 7.1 6.7 6.4 6.4 5.9 5.5 6.4 7.1 7.2 7.2 7.8 7.6 6.8
Source #1: Bureau of Meteorology[49]
Source #2: [50]

Urban structure[edit]

Sydney's Central Business District (CBD) extends southwards for about 3 km (2 mi) from Sydney Cove to the area around Central station. The Sydney CBD is bounded on the east side by a chain of parkland, and the west by Darling Harbour, a tourist and nightlife precinct.

Together with the commercial district of North Sydney, joined to the CBD by the Harbour Bridge, the most significant outer business districts are Parramatta[51] in the central-west, Penrith[52] in the west, Bondi Junction in the east, Liverpool[53] in the southwest, Chatswood to the north, and Hurstville to the south.

The extensive area covered by urban Sydney is formally divided into 649[54] suburbs (for addressing and postal purposes), and administered as 40[55] local government areas. There is no metropolitan-wide government, but the government of New South Wales and its agencies have extensive responsibilities in providing metropolitan services.[56] The City of Sydney itself covers a fairly small area comprising the central business district and its neighbouring inner-city suburbs. In addition, regional descriptions are used informally to conveniently describe larger sections of the urban area. These include Canterbury-Bankstown, the Eastern Suburbs, the Forest District, Greater Western Sydney, the Hills District, the Inner West, the Macarthur region, the Northern Beaches, the Northern Suburbs, the North Shore, Southern Sydney, South-western Sydney, the St George district, the Sutherland Shire and Western Sydney.

View of Sydney from Sydney Tower.
Sydney CBD panorama from Taronga Zoo, North Sydney.

Parks and open spaces[edit]

Sydney is well-endowed with open spaces and access to waterways, and has many natural areas botanic gardens and parks. Within the CBD are the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Hyde Park, The Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The metropolitan area also contains prominent parks and gardens, such as the Auburn Botanical Gardens,[57] and national parks, including the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world,[58] Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and several parks in Sydney's far west which are part of the World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains Area.

The Domain was established by Governor Arthur Phillip, just six months after the arrival of the first fleet. Originally established as being exclusive to Governors, it was opened to the public in the 1830s. Hyde Park was dedicated on 13 October 1810 by Governor Macquarie for the "recreation and amusement of the inhabitants of the town and a field of exercises for the troops". Hyde Park is named in honour of the original Hyde Park in London, England. Containing over 580 trees, it is located in the eastern section of the inner city district.

To celebrate the first 100 years of European settlement, Centennial Park was dedicated by Sir Henry Parkes in January 1888. It is the largest open space in the city, occupying 220 hectares. Similarly, Bicentennial Park was opened on 1 January 1988 to commemorate 200 years since European settlement.[59] 1988's Bicentennial celebrations also saw the opening of the Chinese Garden of Friendship, designed by the City of Sydney's Chinese sister city Guangzhou.


St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, built in 1882 in the English Geometric Decorated Gothic style.
The atrium of 1 Bligh Street, a contemporary example of Sydney's architecture.

Sydney has various heritage listed buildings, including Parliament House (1816), Sydney Town Hall (1889), the Queen Victoria Building (1898), and the Australian Museum. There is no particular architecture style that entirely characterises the whole of Sydney. Prominent styles include Gothic Revival, Georgian, Classical, Romanesque, Italianate, Federation, Edwardian, Second Empire, Queen Anne, as well as more contemporary styles. The first substantial buildings designed for Sydney were by transported convict Francis Greenway, who designed such buildings and structures as the Macquarie Lighthouse, Hyde Park Barracks, St James' King Street and Government House.[60]

Other prominent architects were James Barnet, who designed the General Post Office (1891), The Customs House (1845), and various court houses; and Edmund Blacket, who designed the Gothic revival style St. Andrew's Cathedral and St Philip's Church.

More contemporary architecture includes the Sydney Opera House (1973), designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon.[61] Described as an "artistic monument", it is one of the most recognisable landmarks in both Sydney and Australia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[62] The upcoming One Central Park (2013) urban renewal development will be a prominent example of green design in Australian buildings and will feature vertical gardens.[63]

Residential architectural styles vary, with Victorian terrace houses being most common in the inner city regions, while single detached family homes with mid to large gardens are prevalent in the suburbs. Harry Seidler built modernist homes and skyscrapers in Sydney, and designed prominent buildings such as the MLC Centre, the Capita Centre, and Australia Square. Seidler's designs contrasted with the "Sydney school" of the 1950s and 1960s, who favoured more natural and organic designs, often hidden from view in bushland. This style of architecture often utilised natural local materials as structural elements.[64]

Sydney has the largest skyline in Australia.[65] The very first skyscraper built in the city was Culwulla Chambers, on the corner of King Street and Castlereagh Street to a height of 50 meters. It was designed by Spain, Cosh and Minnett and consisted of 14 floors. This had been preceded by various lower structures in the late 1910s and 1920s, notably the grey sandstone Commercial Travelers Club Building on Martin Place (demolished in the 1970s) and the Commercial Pallazo style Trust Building on Castlereagh Street, both of significant height for their time. Regulations limit future buildings to the height of 235 metres, in part due to the proximity of Sydney Airport. As of 2012, the city has a total of 914 high-rise buildings, with 20 under construction, 105 planned and 36 at proposal stage.[66]


Sydney's central business district, seen from the Balmain wharf at dusk.

As the financial, manufacturing[67] and economic hub of Australia, Sydney has grown to become a wealthy and prosperous city and its residents enjoy the world's second highest earnings when measured using domestic purchasing power, among world cities. The largest economic sectors in Sydney, as measured by the number of people employed, include property and business services, retail, manufacturing, and health and community services.[68] Since the 1980s, jobs have moved from manufacturing to the services and information sectors. Sydney provides approximately 25 percent of the country's total GDP.[69] The Australian Securities Exchange and the Reserve Bank of Australia are located in Sydney, as are the headquarters of 90 banks and more than half of Australia's top companies, and the regional headquarters for around 500 multinational corporations.[69]

Of the ten largest corporations in Australia by revenue,[70] four have headquarters in Sydney: Caltex Australia, the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and Woolworths. Of the 54 authorised deposit-taking banks in Australia, 44 are based in Sydney including nine of the 11 foreign subsidiary banks in Australia and all of the 29 local branches of foreign banks. Major authorised foreign banks in Sydney include Citigroup, UBS Australia, Mizuho Corporate Bank, HSBC Bank Australia and Deutsche Bank. Shopping locations in Sydney include Pitt Street, George Street, King Street, Market Street, and Castlereagh Street, shopping complexes such as the Queen Victoria Building and Westfield Sydney, arcades such as The Strand Arcade and Mid City Centre, and department stores such as Myer and David Jones, all of which are in the shopping district in the city centre, a place to find major international brand name labels. Also in the city centre is Chinatown, which includes Paddys Markets, which is Sydney's city markets, a place for bargain hunting. Newly opened on the Southern edge of the city is Central mall, which is part of the Central Park development in Chippendale.

The State Savings Building

Outside the city centre there are a number of other shopping destinations of interest. Inner eastern suburbs such as Potts Point, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills provide a diverse range of shops for the culturally creative and alternative lifestyle groups that live there, whilst other inner eastern areas like Paddington and Woollahra are home to boutiques selling more niche products. Inner western suburbs like Newtown and Glebe cater more towards students and alternative lifestyles. Double Bay in Sydney's harbourside eastern suburbs is an upmarket area known for its expensive boutiques. Seaside areas, including Bondi Beach in the eastern beaches area and Manly in the northern beaches area, have a retail scene based upon their beach locations, with many surfing and surfer style clothing shops. Sydney received 7.8 million domestic visitors and 2.5 million international visitors in 2004.[71] In 2007, the (then) Premier of New South Wales, Morris Iemma established Events New South Wales to "market Sydney and NSW as a leading global events destination". Business Events Sydney, formerly known as Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau, also markets Sydney and New South Wales as a destination for Australian and international business meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. Fox Studios Australia has large film studios in the city.

As of 2013, the unemployment rate in Sydney was 5.6 percent. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide cost of living survey, Sydney is the sixteenth most expensive city in the world, while a UBS survey ranks Sydney as 7th in the world in terms of net earnings.[72] As of December 2011, Sydney has the highest median house price of any Australian capital city at $636,822, and a median unit price of $449,231.[73] Sydney also has the highest median rent prices of any Australian city at $450 a week. The Sydney Region accounts for 12 percent (approximately $1 billion per annum) of the total agricultural production, by value, of NSW.[74] Sydney provides 55% of NSW's flower production and 58% of its turf production, as well as 44% of the state's nurseries.[75] In 1994–1995 Sydney produced 44% of New South Wales' poultry meat and 48% of the state's eggs.[76]


The ten largest overseas born populations[77]
Country of Birth Population (2006)
United Kingdom 175,166
China 109,142
New Zealand 81,064
Vietnam 62,144
Lebanon 54,502
India 52,975
Philippines 52,087
Italy 44,563
Hong Kong 36,866
Greece 32,021

The 2006 census reported 4,119,190 residents in the Sydney Statistical Division,[78] of which 3,641,422 lived in Sydney's Urban Centre.[79] Inner Sydney was the most densely populated place in Australia with 4,023 inhabitants per square kilometre (10,420 /sq mi).[80] In the 2006 census, the most common self-described ancestries identified for Sydney residents were Australian, English, Irish, Scottish, and Chinese.[77] The Census also recorded that 1.1% of Sydney's population identified as being of indigenous origin, and 39.6% were born overseas.[78]

Asian Australians made up 18.8% of the population in Sydney's Urban Centre and 16.9% of the wider Statistical Division.[81] The three major sources of immigrants are the United Kingdom, China and New Zealand, followed by Vietnam, Lebanon, India, Italy, and the Philippines.[78] The majority of residents are native speakers of English; many residents also speak another language, the most common being Arabic (predominantly Lebanese Arabic), Cantonese, Mandarin, Greek and Vietnamese.[78] Sydney has the seventh-largest percentage of foreign-born individuals in the world.[82]

The median age of Sydney residents is 36; 15.4% of the population is over 65 years old.[83] 16.5% of residents have educational from University or tertiary institutions. In the 2011 census, 60.9% of the residents identified themselves as Christians, 17.6% had no religion, 7.6% did not answer, 4.7% were Muslims, 4.1% were Buddhists, 2.6% were Hindus, 0.9% were Jewish and 1.6% were other religions.[84]


The Art Gallery of New South Wales, located in The Domain, is the fourth largest public gallery in Australia.

As a dynamic cultural hub, Sydney has many fine and internationally known museums, galleries and art spaces, such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the White Rabbit Gallery, CarriageWorks, Brett Whiteley Studio, Museum of Sydney and the Powerhouse Museum, in addition to a thriving commercial gallery scene of contemporary art, mainly in the inner-city areas of Waterloo, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Paddington, Chippendale, Newtown and Woollahra.

Sydney hosts many different festivals and some of Australia's largest social and cultural events. These include the Sydney Festival, Australia's largest arts festival which is a celebration involving both indoor and free outdoor performances throughout January; the Biennale of Sydney dedicated to international and Australian contemporary art; the Big Day Out, a travelling rock-music festival which originated in Sydney; the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras along Oxford Street; the Sydney Film Festival and many other smaller film festivals such as the short film Tropfest and Flickerfest. Sculpture by the Sea, Australia's largest outdoor sculpture exhibit, began at Bondi Beach in 1996. Vivid Sydney, an annual outdoor festival featuring lit up art installations, light projections, music and ideas began in 2009.

Australia's premier prize for portraiture, the Archibald Prize is organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Sydney Royal Easter Show is held every year at Sydney Olympic Park. Various final episodes of Australian Idol have taken place at the Opera House.[85] Sydney's New Year's Eve and Australia Day celebrations are the largest in Australia.[86] Sydney also hosts Australian Fashion Week in Autumn.[87] A survey based on tracking the frequency of words and phrases in the media cited Sydney as number 9 on a list of the world's top fashion cities in 2009.[88]

Entertainment and performing arts[edit]

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is one of the oldest and most prestigious music schools in Australia

Sydney's cultural institutions include the Sydney's famous Opera House. It has five halls, including a large concert hall and opera and drama theatres; it is the home of Opera Australia—the third-busiest opera company in the world, and the Sydney Symphony under the leadership of Vladimir Ashkenazy.[89] Other venues include the Sydney Town Hall, City Recital Hall, the State Theatre, the Theatre Royal, Sydney, the Sydney Theatre and the Wharf Theatre, the Capitol Theatre and the Lyric and Star Theatres at The Star. The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is located adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens and serves the Australian music community through music education and biannual Australian Music Examinations Board exams. The Sydney Dance Company was under the leadership of Graeme Murphy during the late 20th century. The Sydney Theatre Company has a regular roster of local plays, such as noted playwright David Williamson, classics and international playwrights. In 2007, The New Theatre celebrated 75 years of continuous production in Sydney. Other important theatre companies in Sydney include Company B and Griffin Theatre Company. From the 1940s through to the 1970s the Sydney Push, a group of authors and political activists whose members included Germaine Greer, influenced the city's cultural life. The National Institute of Dramatic Art, based in Kensington, boasts internationally famous alumni such as Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, Baz Luhrmann and Cate Blanchett. Sydney's role in the film industry has increased since the opening of Fox Studios Australia in 1998.

There have been many prominent films that have used Sydney as a filming location or setting including The Matrix, Mission Impossible 2, Moulin Rouge!, Australia, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Great Gatsby, the most recent Hollywood production shot in Sydney.[90][91] Additionally, many Bollywood movies have also been filmed in Sydney including Singh Is Kinng, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Chak De! India, Heyy Babyy. As of 2006, over 229 films have been set in, or featured Sydney.[92] Sydney's most popular nightspots include Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and The Rocks, which all contain various bars, nightclubs and restaurants. The Star is Sydney's only casino and is situated around Darling Harbour. There are many traditional pubs, cafes and restaurants in inner-city areas such as Newtown, Balmain, Leichhardt and Surry Hills. Sydney's main live music hubs include areas such as Newtown and Annandale, which nurtured acts such as AC/DC, Bliss n Eso, Sparkadia, Midnight Oil and INXS. Other popular nightspots tend to be spread throughout the city in areas such as Bondi, Manly, Cronulla and Parramatta.


The Sydney Opera House, situated in Bennelong Point, is one of the most recognisable buildings in the world.[93]

In the year ending 2012, Sydney received a total of 10.5 million international and domestic visitors, which injected $11.7 billion into the state of New South Wales' economy.[94] The most well-known attractions include the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other attractions include Royal Botanical Gardens, Luna Park, Darling Harbour, some 40 beaches and Sydney Tower.[95] The New South Wales Government operates two programs relevant to Sydney as part of the NSW Tourism Strategy, they are: Brand Sydney (to revitalise and strengthen the image and appeal of Sydney) and Visit Sydney (to increase promotion of Sydney as a tourist destination through a strengthened dedicated business unit within Destination NSW).

Sydney also has several popular museums, such as the Australian Museum (natural history and anthropology), the Powerhouse Museum (science, technology and design), the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Australian National Maritime Museum.[96]

Sport and outdoor activities[edit]

The 2006 NRL Grand Final is played in Sydney

Sport is an important part of Sydney's culture. Prominent sporting venues in Sydney include the Sydney Cricket Ground or SCG, Stadium Australia, the Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney Motorsport Park, Royal Randwick and Rosehill Gardens Racecourse. Large sporting events such as the NRL Grand Final and Bledisloe Cup games are regularly held at the Stadium Australia, the main stadium for the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Rugby League began in Sydney in the 1908 season.[97] The city is home to nine of the sixteen teams in the National Rugby League competition: the 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. The New South Wales rugby league team contests the annual State of Origin series against the Queensland Maroons, with at least one game each series played in Sydney. Rugby Union is represented by the NSW Waratahs in the elite Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby competition. The Suburban rugby competition is the Shute Shield which provides many Super 15 players. High profile Wallabies games are held in Sydney such as the Bledisloe Cup, Tri Nations matches, British and Irish Lions games, and most notably the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup against England.

Cricket is the most popular summer sport in the city. The Ashes Series between Australia and England is widely popular among the people. As the state capital, Sydney is also the home of the NSW Blues cricket team in the Sheffield Shield cricket competition, as well as the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash Twenty20 competition. Sydney Cricket Ground and Stadium Australia, popularly known as the ANZ Stadium, host both domestic and international cricket matches. The city has also hosted games in the 1992 Cricket World Cup and will also host games in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Soccer is represented by Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers of the A-League. The second tier competitions NSWPL and NSW Super League provide many players to the A-League. Sydney also hosts major soccer events of the national team, the Socceroos, most notably the World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay in 2005.

Sydney has two teams in the Australian rules football competition, the Australian Football League, the Sydney Swans and the Greater Western Sydney Giants. The city is represented in National Basketball League by the Sydney Kings. A women's team, the Sydney Uni Flames, compete in the Women's National Basketball League. Sydney also has a women's netball team (Swifts), a ABL baseball team (Sydney Blue Sox), a field hockey team (Waratahs), two ice hockey teams (Penrith Bears and Sydney Ice Dogs) The city also plays host to the Australian Drag Racing Nationals each year at Sydney Dragway.[98] Other events in Sydney include the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Golden Slipper horse race, and the City2Surf race.


Sydney has two main daily newspapers. The Sydney Morning Herald is the oldest newspaper in Australia, having been published regularly since 1831. The Herald's competitor, The Daily Telegraph, is a News Corporation-owned tabloid. Both papers have tabloid counterparts published on Sunday, The Sun-Herald and the Sunday Telegraph, respectively.

The three commercial television networks (Seven, Nine, Ten), as well as the government national broadcast services (ABC and SBS) are headquartered in Sydney. Also a community television station, TVS, broadcasts in the Sydney area. Historically, the networks have been based in the northern suburbs, but the last decade has seen several move to the inner city. Nine has kept its headquarters north of the harbour, in Willoughby. Ten has its studios in a redeveloped section of the inner-city suburb of Pyrmont, and Seven also has headquarters in Pyrmont, production studios at Epping as well as a purpose-built news studio in Martin Place in the CBD.

The ABC has a large headquarters and production facility in the inner-city suburb of Ultimo and SBS has its studios at Artarmon. Foxtel and Optus both supply pay-TV over their cable services to most parts of the urban area, and both have their national headquarters in the Northern suburb of North Ryde.[99][100]

The five free-to-air networks have provided digital television transmissions in Sydney since January 2000. There are also nine additional Freeview Digital Services. These include ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS Two, 7Two, 7mate, GO!, GEM HD, ONE HD, Eleven and TVS.

Many AM and FM government, commercial and community radio services broadcast in the Sydney area. The local ABC radio station is 702 ABC Sydney (formerly 2BL).[101] The talkback radio genre is dominated by the perennial rivals 2GB and 2UE. Popular Music radio stations include Triple M, 2Day FM and Nova 96.9, which generally target people under 40. In the older end of the music radio market, Mix 106.5 target the 25–54 age group, Smooth 95.3 targets the 35–54 age group and WS-FM targets the 40–54 age group with their Classic Hits format mostly focusing on the 70s and 80s. Triple J (ABC), 2SER and FBi Radio provide a more independent, local and alternative sound. There are also a number of community stations broadcasting to a particular language group or local area.[102]

On 1 July 2009, DAB+ Digital Radio officially started. ABC and commercial radios provide full programming.[103]


Sydney's local government areas

Apart from the limited role of the Cumberland County Council from 1945–1964, there has never been an overall governing body for the Sydney metropolitan area; instead, the metropolitan area is divided into local government areas (LGAs, commonly: 'councils' and 'shires') which are comparable to boroughs in cities such as London. These areas have elected councils which are responsible for functions delegated to them by the New South Wales State Government, such as planning and garbage collection.

NSW Parliament House. The State Government controls most citywide activities.

The City of Sydney includes the central business area and some adjoining inner suburbs, and has in recent years been expanded through amalgamation with adjoining local government areas, such as South Sydney. It is led by the elected Lord Mayor of Sydney and a council. The Lord Mayor, however, is sometimes treated as a representative of the whole city, for example during the Olympics.[104]

Most citywide government activities are controlled by the state government. These include public transport, main roads, traffic control, policing, education above preschool level, and planning of major infrastructure projects.[105] Because a large proportion of the New South Wales population lives in Sydney, state governments have traditionally been reluctant to allow the development of citywide governmental bodies, which would tend to rival the state government. For this reason, Sydney has always been a focus for the politics of both state and federal parliaments. For example, the boundaries of the City of Sydney LGA have been significantly altered by state governments on at least four occasions since 1945, with expected advantageous effect to the governing party in the New South Wales Parliament at the time.[106]

According to the New South Wales Division of Local Government, the 38 LGAs making up Sydney are:[107][108]

The classification of which councils make up Sydney varies. The Local Government Association of New South Wales considers all LGAs lying entirely in Cumberland County as part of its 'Metro' group, which excludes Camden (classed in its 'Country' group).[109] The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines a Sydney Statistical Division (the population figures of which are used in this article) that includes all of the above councils as well as Wollondilly, the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Gosford and Wyong.[110]


The University of Sydney, established in 1850, is the oldest university in Australia
The Anderson Stuart Building, housing the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney.

Australia's oldest university, University of Sydney was established in 1850 and is the largest and highest ranked university in Sydney and New South Wales.[111][112] Other public universities located in Sydney include the University of Technology, Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, the University of Western Sydney and the Australian Catholic University (two out of six campuses). Other universities which operate secondary campuses in Sydney include the University of Notre Dame Australia, the University of Wollongong and Curtin University of Technology.

There are four multi-campus government-funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes in Sydney, which provide vocational training at a tertiary level: the Sydney Institute of Technology, Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE, Western Sydney Institute of TAFE and South Western Sydney Institute of TAFE. Sydney has public, denominational and independent schools. Public schools, including pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, and special schools are administered by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training. There are four state-administered education areas in Sydney, that together co-ordinate 932 public schools.[113] Of the 30 selective high schools in the state, 25 are in Sydney.[114]


Health systems[edit]

Health services in Sydney are delivered through a mix of public and private systems, funded by government (from tax revenue) and private health insurance. The government of New South Wales, in particular the Ministry of Health, operates several large public hospitals in the Sydney metropolitan region. Management of these hospitals and other specialist health facilities is coordinated by the eight metropolitan Local Health Districts[115] (LHDs). These eight LHDs cover the Sydney metropolitan region, and seven more cover rural and regional NSW. In addition, two specialist networks focus on Children's and Paediatric Services, and Forensic Mental Health. A third network operates across the public health services provided in three Sydney facilities operated by St Vincent's Health: these include St Vincent's Hospital and the Sacred Heart Hospice at Darlinghurst and St Joseph’s at Auburn.

The largest teaching hospitals are: the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, The Prince of Wales Hospital and the Royal North Shore Hospital, Westmead Hospital, and Liverpool Hospital.


The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an important piece of transport infrastructure, carrying trains, buses, other motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. It was also used by Sydney's former tram network.
The ANZAC Bridge, spanning Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Glebe Island in proximity to Sydney's central business district, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.
Sydney Airport is located in close proximity to the city.

Road transport and the motor vehicle are the main form of transports. The road system consists of an extensive network of freeways and toll roads (known as motorways). The most important trunk roads in the metropolitan area are the nine Metroads, which include the 110 km (68 mi) Sydney Orbital Network. According to the 2006 Census, 85% of households own at least one automobile at an average of 1.5 per household and there are a total of over 2.1 million cars in the metropolitan area. 61.8% of all Sydneysiders travel to work as either driver or passenger with a total of over 350,000 cars using the road infrastructure simultaneously during rush hour, causing significant traffic congestion.[116]

Public transport in Sydney consists of an extensive network of road transport as well as rail transport and water transport modes. According to the 2006 Census, in terms of travel to work or study Sydney has the highest rate of public transport usage among the Australian capital cities of 26.3%.[117] According to the New South Wales State Plan, the state has Australia's largest public transport system.

Trains in Sydney are run by Transport for NSW, a statutory authority of the State of New South Wales. Trains run as suburban commuter rail services in the outer suburbs, then converge in an underground city loop service in the central business district. In the years following the 2000 Olympics, CityRail's performance declined significantly.[118] In 2005, CityRail introduced a revised timetable and employed more drivers.[119] A large infrastructure project, the Clearways project, is scheduled to be completed by 2010.[120][121][122] In 2007 a report found Cityrail performed poorly compared to many metro services from other world cities.[123] Figures released by RailCorp show that during the period of 2011/2012, 95.4% of trains arrived on time[124] and 99.6% of services ran as scheduled.[125] However, a survey conducted in September 2011 revealed that 6 of the 13 lines had a maximum load that exceeded 135% (of the seated capacity) during the peak morning commute.[126]

Sydney was once served by one of the largest tram networks in the world, with routes covering 181 mi (291 km), but this was closed in February 1961.[127] Sydney has one modern light rail line, the Inner West line, running from Central Railway Station to inner western suburb of Lilyfield, mostly along the route of a former goods train line. The operation of the Sydney Monorail, which ran in a loop around the main shopping district and Darling Harbour ceased operations in June 2013 and is in currently undergoing dismantlement. Most parts of the metropolitan area are served by buses. In the city and inner suburbs the state-owned Sydney Buses has a monopoly. Many of Sydney Buses routes follow the pre-1961 tram routes. In the outer suburbs, service is contracted to many private bus companies. Sydney has two rapid bus transitways called T-ways, built in areas of the western suburbs not previously well served by public transport. State government-owned Sydney Ferries runs numerous commuter and tourist ferry services on Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.[128]

Sydney Airport, in the suburb of Mascot, is Sydney's main airport, and is one of the oldest continually operated airports in the world.[129] The smaller Bankstown Airport mainly serves private and general aviation. There is a light aviation airfield at Camden. RAAF Base Richmond lies to the north-west of the city. The question of the need for a Second Sydney Airport has raised much controversy. A 2003 study found that Sydney Airport can manage as Sydney's sole international airport for 20 years, with a significant increase in airport traffic predicted.[130] Land has been acquired at Badgerys Creek for a second airport, the site acting as a focal point of political argument.[131]


Water storage for Sydney is managed by the Sydney Catchment Authority, water supply is managed by Sydney Water. Water in the Sydney catchment is chiefly stored in dams in the Upper Nepean Scheme, the Blue Mountains, Woronora Dam, Warragamba Dam and the Shoalhaven Scheme.[132] Historically low water levels in the catchment have led to water use restrictions. The Kurnell Desalination Plant was completed and operational in late 2009 supplying Sydney with 250ML per day of potable water during times of drought. Sydney Water also manages the city's sewage scheme.

Two distributors supply electricity to Sydney: Ausgrid (previously Energy Australia), and Endeavour Energy (previously Integral Energy). There are several retailers including TRUenergy, Origin Energy, AGL Energy, Lumo Energy and others. Several companies supply natural gas to Sydney through retailers: AGL, TRUenergy, Origin Energy and others. The natural gas supply for the city is sourced from the Cooper Basin in South Australia. Numerous telecommunications companies operate in Sydney providing terrestrial and mobile telecommunications services.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

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