Skip to content

History of Sydney

Sydney is a beautiful coastal city and one of the top tourist destinations in Australia. It is also a city full of history, being the first area where English ships landed and where those on board, mainly convicts, carved out a place for themselves in this new land. It is now a fun-loving city with much to see and do, and a place the team at Britlock Sydney are lucky enough to call home!

History

Sydney Cove, adjacent to the Rocks, was founded as a penal settlement by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788 and named for the British home secretary, Viscount Sydney. It is the site where the first English convict ships landed in 1788. The area became the first seat of British authority on the continent.

Until the arrival of Lachlan Macquarie, the Governor of New South Wales between 1810 and 1821, the conditions at Sydney Cove were anarchic. Macquarie made the first systematic effort establish a functional government for the settlement. He also erected numerous public buildings, many of them designed by Francis Greenway. In total, Greenway was responsible for the construction of 40 buildings, 11 of which are still standing.

It was not until the 1830s, however, that Sydney began to thrive. This was as a result of the arrival of a greater numbers of free settlers and the greatly reduced number of convicts. Sydney’s population peaked in the 1850s due the Australian gold rush.  In 1852 alone, 370,000 gold seekers arrived in Australia looking for riches. By 1871, there were more than 1.7 million people in this new world. Although Sydney was bypassed by Melbourne in the early 20th century as Australia’s largest city, it has since regained its place at the top with a population of close to 5.3 million people according to a 2018 survey. Sydney was showcased to the world during the Summer Olympics of 2000, which were deemed a huge success.

The City

Until the end of World War II, most residents of the city were of British ancestry. Since then, many immigrants from Asia and Europe have settled in the area. This has created ethnic enclaves within the city and its suburbs. The rapid outgrowth of Sydney’s suburbs suggests that a conurbation may develop, extending over 100 miles from Newcastle in the north, through Sydney, to Wollongong in the south. The Greater Sydney Area is administered by 40 separate local governments.

Sydney has a thriving economy which is mainly based on textile, automobile, and chemical industries. It is also the largest petroleum-refining city in the southern Pacific region. It nevertheless remains more of an entrepôt than an industrial center. In addition to wool and sheepskins, wheat and meat are exported in large quantities. Many of Australia’s imports come through the city, as do most of the country’s tourists.