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New South Wales
Sydney skyline at dusk - Dec 2008.jpg
The Sydney Opera House and Sydney CBD at dusk from Jeffrey Street, Kirribilli
Sydney is located in Australia
Population: 4,627,345 ( 1st)
• Density: 2058/km² (5,330.2/sq mi) (2006)
Established: 26 January 1788
Coordinates: 33°51′35.9″S 151°12′40″E Coordinates: 33°51′35.9″S 151°12′40″E
Area: 12144.6 km² (4,689.1 sq mi)
Time zone:

 • Summer ( DST)

AEST ( UTC+10)

AEDT ( UTC+11)

LGA: various (38)
County: Cumberland
State/territory electorate(s): various (49)
Federal Division(s): various (24)
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
21.7 °C
71 °F
13.8 °C
57 °F
1,212.8 mm
47.7 in

Sydney (pron.: / s ɪ d n i /) is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia. It is on the south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. In June 2010 the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people. Inhabitants of Sydney are called Sydneysiders, comprising a cosmopolitan and international population.

The site of the first British colony in Australia, Sydney was established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Arthur Phillip, commodore of the First Fleet, as a penal colony. The city is built on hills surrounding Port Jackson which is commonly known as Sydney Harbour, where the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge feature prominently. 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 Beach and Manly Beach. Within the city are many notable parks, including Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Sydney is a high ranking world city and has hosted multiple major international sporting events, including the 1938 British Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games) and the 2000 Summer Olympics. The main airport serving Sydney is Sydney Airport 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.

The traditional indigenous inhabitants of Sydney Cove are the Cadigal people, whose land once stretched from south of Port Jackson to Petersham. While estimates of the population numbers before the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 remain contentious, approximately 4,000–8,000 Aboriginal people lived in the Sydney region before contact with British settlers. The British called the indigenous people the " Eora", because being asked where they came from, these people would answer: "Eora", meaning "here", or "from this place" in their language. There were three language groups in the Sydney region, which were divided into dialects spoken by smaller clans. The principal languages were Darug (the Cadigal, inhabitants of the City of Sydney, spoke a coastal dialect of Darug), Dharawal and Guringai. Each clan had a territory, the location of each territory determined the resources available. Although urbanisation has destroyed much 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.

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

In 1770, British sea captain Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula. It is here that Cook made first contact with an Aboriginal community known as the Gweagal. Under instruction from the British government, a convict settlement was founded by Arthur Phillip, who arrived at Botany Bay with a fleet of 11 ships on 18 January 1788. This site was soon determined 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 Sydney's role in issuing the charter authorising Phillip to establish the colony.

In April 1789, a catastrophic epidemic disease now thought to be chickenpox spread through the Eora people and surrounding groups, with the result that local Aborigines died in their thousands, and bodies could often be seen bobbing in the water in Sydney Harbour. The cause of the epidemic has always been a matter of speculation and controversy, but if it was chickenpox, an outbreak of shingles among the convicts being among the most likely explanations. In any event, the results were catastrophic for the Eora people and their kin and by the early 1800s the Aboriginal population of the Sydney basin "had been reduced to only 10 percent of the 1788 estimate", or an estimated 500 to 1000 Aboriginal people between Broken Bay and Botany Bay.

Sydney harbour in 1932

There was some violent resistance to British settlement, notably by the warrior Pemulwuy in the area around Botany Bay, and conflicts were common in the area surrounding the Hawkesbury River. By 1820 there were only a few hundred Aborigines and Governor Macquarie had begun initiatives to 'civilise, Christianise and educate' the Aborigines by removing them from their clans. 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, and by 1822 the town had banks, markets, well-established thoroughfares and an organised constabulary.

The 1830s and 1840s were periods of urban development including the development of the first suburbs, as the town grew rapidly when ships began arriving from Britain and Ireland with immigrants looking to start a new life in a new country. On 20 July 1842 the municipal council of Sydney was incorporated and the town was declared the first city in Australia, with John Hosking the first elected mayor. The first of several Australian gold rushes started in 1851, and the port of Sydney has since seen many waves of people arriving from around the world.

Rapid suburban development began in the last quarter of the 19th century with the advent of steam-powered tramways and railways. 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". The Great Depression hit Sydney badly in comparison to other Australian cities. One of the highlights of the Depression era, however, was the completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. There has traditionally been a rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne since the gold rushes of the 1850s made the capital of Victoria Australia's largest and richest city. Sydney overtook Melbourne in population in the early years of the 20th century, 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. Throughout the 20th century, especially in the decades immediately following World War II, Sydney continued to expand as large numbers of European and later Asian immigrants took up residence in the metropolitan area.



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 Pacific Ocean 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. The Sydney area is not affected by significant earthquakes.

The urban area has around 70 harbour and ocean beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney's urban area covers 1,687 km2 (651 sq mi) as of 2001. The Sydney Statistical Division, used for census data, is the unofficial metropolitan area and covers 12,145 km2 (4,689 sq mi). 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.


Sydney is mostly Triassic rock, with a some recent igneous dykes and the volcanic neck. 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 will be 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 exist yet. 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 have created a landscape of deep-cliffed gorges and remains of plateaus across. The Sydney Basin bioregion includes coastal landscapes of cliffs, beaches and estuaries.

Sydney is situated on low, rolling hills with wide valleys, situated in a rain-shadow zone below the Blue Mountains.


Sydney has a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters. Rainfall is spread throughout the year. The weather is moderated by proximity to the ocean, and more extreme temperatures are recorded in the inland western suburbs. The warmest month is January, with an average air temperature range at Observatory Hill of 18.6–25.8 °C (65–78 °F). An average of 14.6 days a year have temperatures of more than 30 °C (86.0 °F).

In winter, temperatures rarely drop below 5 °C (41 °F) in coastal areas. The coldest month is July, with an average range of 8.0–16.2 °C (46–61 °F). Rainfall is fairly evenly spread through the year, but is slightly higher during the first half of the year, when easterly winds dominate. The average annual rainfall, with moderate to low variability, is 1,217 mm (48 in), with rain falling on an average of 138 days a year. Snowfall was last reported in the Sydney City area in 1836. However, a July 2008 fall of graupel, or soft hail, mistaken by many for snow, has raised the possibility that the 1836 event was not snow, either. Extreme temperatures have ranged from 45.8 °C (114.4 °F) on 18 January 2013 and 2.1 °C (35.8 °F), the lowest recorded minimum at Observatory Hill.

The city is not affected by cyclones. 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. The next notable event was in the first weeks of February 2010 when Sydney received some of the highest rainfalls in 25 years, which caused flash flooding and traffic chaos.

The Bureau of Meteorology has reported that 2002 through 2005 were the warmest summers in Sydney since records began in 1859. The summer of 2007–2008, however, proved to be one of the coolest summers on record. 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. In 2011, above-average rainfall was recorded. On 18 January 2013, Sydney experienced record-breaking temperatures with 45.8 °C (114 °F) recorded at Observatory Hill and 46.4 °C (116 °F) at Sydney Airport.

Average annual temperature of the sea is above 21 °C (70 °F), from 19 °C (66 °F) in July to 24 °C (75 °F) in January.

Climate data for Sydney
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) 101.5
Avg. rainy days 12.2 12.4 13.5 12.8 13.2 12.5 11.2 10.4 10.6 11.7 11.7 11.5 143.7
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
Source #2:

Urban structure

Sydney's Northern Beaches. The metropolitan area is characterised by large areas of urban sprawl, and, on the eastern side, beaches along the Tasman Sea

Sydney's Central Business District (CBD) extends southwards for about 3 kilometres (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. Although the CBD dominated the city's business and cultural life in the early days, other business/cultural districts have developed in a radial pattern since World War II. As a result, the proportion of white-collar jobs located in the CBD declined from more than 60 per cent at the end of World War II to less than 30 per cent in 2004.

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

The extensive area covered by urban Sydney is formally divided into 649 suburbs (for addressing and postal purposes), and administered as 40 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. 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 Eastern Suburbs, Hills District, Inner West, Canterbury-Bankstown, Greater Western Sydney, Northern Beaches, Northern Suburbs, North Shore, St George, Southern Sydney, South-western Sydney, Sutherland Shire known locally as 'The Shire' and Western Sydney.

View of Sydney from Sydney Tower.

Parks and open spaces

The Royal Botanic Gardens

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

The metropolitan area also contains prominent parks and gardens, such as the Auburn Botanical Gardens, and national parks, including the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world, Ku-ring-gai Chase 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—also a residential area—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. 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.


Sydney retains much of its 19th century heritage architecture, such as the romanesque revival Queen Victoria Building.
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.

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. 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. The upcoming One Central Park (2013) urban renewal development will be a prominent example of green design in Australian buildings.

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. These views were shared by Glenn Murcutt, who believed that a building should blend in with its environment. Sydney has the largest skyline in Australia. Height restrictions limit future buildings to the height of 235 metres, in part due to the close proximity of Sydney Airport. As of 2012, the city contains a total of 914 high-rise buildings, with 20 under construction, 105 planned and 36 at proposal stage.


Sydney's central business district, the financial and economic hub of Australia, seen from the Balmain wharf at dusk.

As the financial and economic hub of Australia, Sydney has grown to become a wealthy and prosperous city. 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. 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. 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. Of the ten largest corporations in Australia by revenue, 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.

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. 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". Fox Studios Australia has large film studios in the city.

As of 2004, the unemployment rate in Sydney was 4.9 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 15th in the world in terms of net earnings. As of September 2009, Sydney has the highest median house price of any Australian capital city at $636,822, and a median unit price of $500,000. 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. Sydney provides 55% of NSW's flower production and 58% of its turf production, as well as 44% of the state's nurseries. In 1994–1995 Sydney produced 44% of New South Wales' poultry meat and 48% of the state's eggs.


The Great Synagogue caters to Sydney's Jewish community, which dates back to the earliest days of the colony.
The ten largest overseas born populations
Country of Birth Population (2006)
United Kingdom 175,166
People's Republic of 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
South Korea 32,124
population by year
1800 3,000
1820 12,000
1851 39,000
1871 200,000 (Gold Rush)
1901 500,000
1925 1,000,000
1962 2,000,000
2001 3,948,015 (Census)
2006 4,119,190 (Census)
2011 4,627,345 (Estimate)
2026 5,426,300 (Projected)
2056 6,976,800 (Projected)

The 2006 census reported 4,119,190 residents in the Sydney Statistical Division, of which 3,641,422 lived in Sydney's Urban Centre. Inner Sydney was the most densely populated place in Australia with 4,023 inhabitants per square kilometre (10,420 /sq mi). In the 2006 census, the most common self-described ancestries identified for Sydney residents were Australian, English, Irish, Scottish, and Chinese. The Census also recorded that 1.1% of Sydney's population identified as being of indigenous origin, and 31.7% were born overseas.

Asian Australians made up 18.8% of the population in Sydney's Urban Centre and 16.9% of the wider Statistical Division. The three major sources of immigrants are the United Kingdom, China and New Zealand, followed by Vietnam, Lebanon, India, Italy, and the Philippines. Many residents are native speakers of English; many have a second language, the most common being Arabic (predominantly Lebanese Arabic), Cantonese, Mandarin, Greek and Vietnamese. Sydney has the seventh-largest percentage of foreign-born individuals in the world. Immigrants account for 75% of Sydney's annual population growth.

The median age of Sydney residents is 36; 15.4% of the population is over 65 years old. 15.2% of residents have educational attainment equal to at least a bachelor's degree, In the 2011 census, 60.9% of the residents identified themselves as Christians, 17.6% had no religion, 7.6% left the question blank, 4.7% were Muslims, 4.1% were Buddhists, 2.6% were Hindus, 0.9% were Jewish and 1.6% were another religion.


Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Beach

As a dynamic cultural hub, Sydney has many fine and internationally known museums and galleries, such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the White Rabbit Gallery, 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, the final of Australian Idol takes place on the steps of the Opera House, and Australian Fashion Week takes place in April/May and September. Sydney's New Year's Eve and Australia Day celebrations are the largest in Australia.

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. The city is the site of the world renowned Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, which occurs biannually, and is home to many of Australia's premier fashion houses. Most international designers have a major presence in Sydney and Australia's Next Top Model is one of the most watched shows on national television.

Entertainment and performing arts

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. 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. The Great Gatsby, the most recent Hollywood production shot in Sydney, is expected to earn the New South Wales economy $120 million, with the shoot estimated to last seventeen weeks and another thirty weeks to be spent on post-production. 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. 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 city's most recognisable attractions.

In the year ending March 2008, Sydney received 2.7 million international visitors and 7 million domestic visitors. The most well-known attractions include the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other attractions include Royal Botanical Gardens, Luna Park, some 40 beaches and Sydney Tower.

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.

Sport and outdoor activities

Sydney Cricket Ground
The 2006 NRL Grand Final is played in Sydney

Sport is an important part of Sydney's culture. Sydney is the only city other than Melbourne and Brisbane to have an elite presence in the 4 major football codes of Australia – rugby league, Australian rules football, rugby union and soccer. Prominent sporting venues in Sydney include the Sydney Cricket Ground or SCG, ANZ Stadium, The Sydney Football Stadium, Eastern Creek Raceway, Royal Randwick and Rosehill Gardens Racecourse. Large sporting events such as the NRL Grand Final and Bledisloe Cup games are regularly held at the ANZ Stadium, the main stadium for the 2000 Summer Olympics.

The most popular sport in Sydney is rugby league. The NSWRFL (today known as the NRL) began in Sydney in the 1908 season and is the largest and most prestigious domestic rugby league competition in the Southern Hemisphere. 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 Sydney. 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. Sydney Cricket Ground and ANZ Stadium host 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. The Sydney Cricket Ground is at present the only test venue in the city. Plans are going on to accommodate ANZ Stadium as an international cricket venue for Australia.

Soccer is represented by Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers FC 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.

Australian rules football is considerably less popular in Sydney than in many other regions of Australia. The sport's premier competition, the Australian Football League, includes two teams based in Sydney — the Sydney Swans and the Greater Western Sydney Giants. The city also has a number of teams in the state's second tier competition, the North East Australian Football League.

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 plays host to the Australian Drag Racing Nationals each year at Sydney Dragway. Other events in Sydney include the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Golden Slipper horse race, and the City2urf race.


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) 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.

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. 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.

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

  • Ashfield
  • Auburn
  • Bankstown
  • Blacktown
  • Botany Bay
  • Burwood
  • Camden
  • Campbelltown
  • Canada Bay
  • Canterbury
  • Fairfield
  • The Hills
  • Holroyd
  • Hornsby
  • Hunter's Hill
  • Hurstville
  • Kogarah
  • Ku-ring-gai
  • Lane Cove
  • Leichhardt
  • Liverpool
  • Manly
  • Marrickville
  • Mosman
  • North Sydney
  • Parramatta
  • Penrith
  • Pittwater
  • Randwick
  • Rockdale
  • Ryde
  • Strathfield
  • Sutherland
  • Sydney
  • Warringah
  • Waverley
  • Willoughby
  • Woollahra

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). 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.


The University of Sydney, established in 1850, is the oldest university in Australia

Sydney is home to some of Australia's most prominent educational institutions. The University of Sydney, established in 1850, is Australia's oldest university and the largest in Sydney. 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 919 schools. Of the 30 selective high schools in the state, 25 are in Sydney.


Health systems

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 (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.
Circular Quay.

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. Almost a third of the metropolitan area is dedicated to driving and parking. 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.

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%. According to the New South Wales State Plan, the state has Australia's largest public transport system.

Trains in Sydney are run by CityRail, a state-run corporation. 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. In 2005, CityRail introduced a revised timetable and employed more drivers. A large infrastructure project, the Clearways project, is scheduled to be completed by 2010. In 2007 a report found Cityrail performed poorly compared to many metro services from other world cities. Figures released by RailCorp show that during the period of 2011/2012, 95.4% of trains arrived on time and 99.6% of services ran as scheduled. 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.

Sydney was once served by an extensive tram network, which was progressively closed in the 1950s and 1960s. Sydney has one modern light rail line, Metro Light Rail, running from Central Railway Station to inner western suburb of Lilyfield, mostly along the route of a former goods train line. A monorail, Metro Monorail, runs in a loop around the main shopping district and Darling Harbour. It will cease operations in June 2013 and be dismantled thereafter. 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. A rapid transit line is currently in planning stages.

Sydney Airport, in the suburb of Mascot, is Sydney's main airport, and is one of the oldest continually operated airports in the world. 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. The resulting expansion of the airport would have a substantial impact on the community, including additional aircraft noise affecting residents. Land has been acquired at Badgerys Creek for a second airport, the site acting as a focal point of political argument.


Water storage and supply for Sydney is managed by the Sydney Catchment Authority, which is an agency of the NSW Government that sells bulk water to Sydney Water and other agencies. 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. Historically low water levels in the catchment have led to water use restrictions and the NSW government is investigating alternative water supply options, including grey water recycling and the construction of a seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant at Kurnell. As of May 2009, the plant was 80% completed, and was due to start supplying fresh water to Sydney at the end of the year. In late January 2010, the NSW government announced that desalination plant was operating and people in different regions were being supplied with desalinated water. Sydney Water also collects the wastewater and sewage produced by the city.

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, 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.

World cities rankings

Sydney is classified as an Alpha+ World City by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group, indicating its influence in the region and throughout the world, ranking among the top global cities in the world. In 2010, Sydney was ranked 7th in Asia and 28th globally for economic innovation in the Innovation Cities Top 100 Index by innovation agency 2thinknow. Sydney also ranks among the top 10 most liveable cities in the world according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting, The Economist and Monocle and is considered among the top fashion capitals in the world. It was also ranked in the top 10 global university cities according to RMIT University—which limited its selection to cities already ranked in its list of the "top 100 most liveable cities".

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