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Sydney History

Once a penal colony, Sydney is now one of the world’s most desirable places to live. It was founded in 1788, when the first British fleet of 1,000 settlers (most of whom were convicts) docked on Australia’s shores.

With their superior weapons, the Europeans swiftly set about dispossessing the indigenous population. However, their greatest ally was disease and the local Aboriginal community was devastated by smallpox.

At first, droughts and disease caused widespread problems, but the situation soon improved and Sydney was incorporated (given a corporation and mayor) in the 1840s.

As the city grew, new buildings were erected with the Sydney Observatory, the Australian Museum, Sydney Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building all going up in the 1850s. This development coincided with a gold rush in the mid-19th century, which brought yet more settlers.

When the Commonwealth of Australia was inaugurated in January 1901, Sydney became the capital of the Australian state of New South Wales, and industrialisation saw the city expand rapidly.

However, the Great Depression hit Sydney hard and put a pause on its growth for a number of years. It didn’t stop everything though, and it was during this time that the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in 1932, connecting the city’s northern and southern banks. It took 1,400 men eight years to complete.

After WWII, Sydney continued to expand and various waves of European and Asian immigration resulted in a melting pot of cultures. From the 1960s, new skyscrapers started to pop up, with the iconic Opera House following in 1973.

More recently, the 2000 Sydney Olympics brought a further boom, both in tourism and immigration, as those watching the action fell in love with the city. Now one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, millions flock to its shores each year.

Did you know?
• Before the ribbon could be cut to open the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Captain Francis De Groot sliced it with his sword because he believed that a member of the Royal Family should officially open the bridge rather than the New South Wales Premier, John T. Lang. De Groot was arrested, the ribbon was re-tied and Lang went on cut the ribbon officially.
• Sydney’s George Street is the oldest street in Australia.
• The Australia Day Regatta, which was first raced in 1837, is the oldest sailing regatta in the world.

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Featured Hotels


Kirketon Hotel

Situated in Darlinghurst, the Kirketon Hotel is an intimate, 40-room boutique hotel set amid the bustling restaurant and nightclub district. Home to an award-winning bar and the Fu Manchu Asian restaurant, this is a stylish property featuring gold tones, caramel hues, free internet access and plush rain-effect showers.

The Woolbrokers Hotel

In the heart of Darling Harbour, Woolbrokers Hotel is located near some of Sydney’s main attractions, including the Sydney Aquarium, Harbourside shopping complex, and Sydney Wildlife World. The heritage building has been redesigned with 27 rooms to accommodate groups, families, or solo travellers.


King’s Cross Backpackers

 Located in vibrant King’s Cross, KXB is popular among travellers looking to be in the heart of Sydney at a cheap price. Newly renovated in 2017, the hostel holds weekly rooftop barbecues, day and night activities, and free breakfast.

Cambridge Hotel

Close to the restaurant and shopping areas of Oxford and Crown Streets is this moderately priced hotel with 149 modern rooms and an on-site Italian restaurant. Adjacent to the hotel is an area that used to be a notorious no-go zone in the 1920s frequented by the city’s worst criminals.

Park Hyatt

Occupying a unique position on the water's edge of Sydney's Harbour, The Park Hyatt has a wide range of rooms to choose from all offering deluxe amenities including shoeshine, turndown, robes, gym access and 24-hour butler service. The hotel's restaurant, the Harbour Kitchen & Bar, offers incredible views of the harbour and opera house through floor-to-ceiling folding glass doors. This Sydney hotel also features a spa, fitness centre and rooftop swimming pool.

Four Seasons

The original luxe Sydney hotel the Four Seasons boasts one of the best views around. Located in the historic Rock’s area overlooking the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge the hotel’s 531 luxurious guestrooms and suites all feature a 42- inch LCD television iPod/MP3 player connectivity and wireless internet access. The spa is one of the best in the city and facilities include steam sauna and Sydney’s largest heated outdoor pool.