Origins of Sydney

Sydney, the cosmopolitan capital of New South Wales also known as the “Harbor City”, has a great deal to offer, from the renowned Bondi beach and the spectacular Blue Mountains to the elegant Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

The history of the Sydney region has been traced back to the prehistoric times, when the place was inhabited by Australian Aborigines whose ancestors had come to Australia about 50,000 years ago. In the past, there were three different languages spoken there: Darug, Dharawal, and Guringai, with distinct dialects for different tribes and clans.  These languages may be dead, but rock carvings and stone tools survive as reminders of the tribes, as can be seen in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in the city.

While their numbers are believed to have dwindled prior to the arrival of Briton Arthur Phillips in 1788 who appended it to the English Crown, they still inhabited the region. In 1770, James Cook was the first outsider to discover the existence of the Australian continent which led to the British convict settlement as founded by Arthur Phillip.  Founded in Sydney Cove, this settlement was named after the British home secretary.  A few years later in 1789, a virulent disease spread over the land, killing the Aboriginal population— some believe that this was the result of smallpox. Living conditions during the early settlement years were hard, with droughts and disease.

By 1820, there were few Aborigines left and the period of civilization began: the education and Christianization of the natives.  With the leadership of Governor Macquarie, the city of Sydney began to take a more organized form.  Roads and wharves were constructed and local development was rapid.  People began arriving from Britain and Ireland in order to find a new life for themselves. In 1851, the discovery of gold 150 km west of Sydney can Bathurst triggered off several gold rushes.

This influx of people led to some of the first villages and later towns in Sydney.  As the era of gold rushes came and went, the suburbs evolved and infrastructure got upgraded, with the construction of railways and tramways in the 19th century.  By the 20th century, Sydney already had a population of over a million people.  While the Great Depression hit Sydney hard, the Harbor Bridge was still completed during that time.

With a whopping immigrant population, Sydney is truly a melting pot of varied cultures and indeed cosmopolitan at heart.