The Port of Sydney rests on the inlet of the Tasman Sea in the low hills that surround Port Jackson on Australia's eastern shores about 20 nautical miles north-northwest of Port Botany and over 700 kilometers south-southwest of the Port of Brisbane. Capital of the State of New South Wales, the Port of Sydney is one of South Pacific's the most important ports and the largest and oldest city in Australia. In 2006, over 4.1 million people lived in the Port of Sydney metropolitan area.
Taken December 2008.
Photo by Diliff
Like most large cities, the Port of Sydney contains a wide variety of economic sectors. The largest sectors in the Port of Sydney include business and property services, manufacturing, retail sales, and community and health services. In past three decades, jobs in the Port of Sydney have moved from manufacturing to the services and information sectors. More than half of the country's major companies and 90 banks headquarter in the Port of Sydney, and it is one of the busiest financial centers in the Asia Pacific region. Over 10 million visitors come to the Port of Sydney each year, including 2.5 million (in 2004) international travelers, making Sydney one of the world's top tourist destinations.
Archaeological evidence suggests that indigenous people have inhabited the Port of Sydney region for about 30 thousand years. The Cadigal peoples were the traditional residents of Sydney Cove. Historians believe that between four to eight thousand people inhabited the region before Europeans arrived. Every clan had its own territory, but most of the evidence of their settlements has been destroyed by urban construction. Rock carvings, engravings, and art are still visible in the Sydney basin's Hawkesbury sandstone.
Viewed from the Sydney Harbour Bridge in December 2008.
Photo by Diliff
In 1770, Captain James Cook landed at nearby Botany Bay and made initial contact with the indigenous Gweagal peoples. In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip arrived at Botany Bay with a fleet of 11 ships and a party of 1500 people to establish a convict settlement by order of the British government.
It didn't take long for Phillip to realize the Botany Bay site would not support the settlement due to its poor soils and scarce fresh water. He moved the colony further north at Sydney Cove on Port Jackson, naming the new settlement after Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney, the British Home Secretary, who authorized the colony.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is in the center, and the Opera house to the left.
Photo by Rodney Haywood
The following year, as many as a thousand Aboriginal people in the region died from what was thought to be smallpox, stimulating violent resistance to the British settlers. Conflicts were common, particularly near the Hawkesbury River. By 1820, few Aborigines were left, and the survivors were being "Christianized" and educated by being removed from their clans. During this difficult time, the first harbor master was appointed to manage the port of Sydney in 1811.
In 1901 the Sydney Harbour Trust was formed to take over and develop the privately owned wharves of Sydney following a period of ramshackle development that contributed to the outbreak of bubonic plague the previous year.
Photo by Travis Simon
These arrangements continued until 1936 when the MSB was established to coordinate under one authority all port and navigation services for NSW, with the exception of Port Kembla, eventually transferred in 1948.
The new Port of Sydney settlement quickly became a center for trade. Built on one of the best natural harbors in the world, Phillip's fleet was soon moved to Sydney Cove and what is now the modern heart of the city. The convicts that Phillip brought to the Port of Sydney found it an unforgiving environment. They had to clear the land by hand, and food was often scarce. There were also continuous conflicts between the governors, the convicts, and the free settlers.
Aerial view of Sydney central business district in 2009.
Photo by Andy Mitchell
As New South Wales was explored and the settlers pushed westward, the Port of Sydney began to grow quickly. The government supplied free land, convict labor, and civil works for the settlers as well as guaranteeing markets for their produce. The Port of Sydney soon had trading relationships with other ports.
Under the leadership of governor Lachlan Macquarie in the early 19th Century, the Port of Sydney was transformed from a prison settlement to a thriving town. Port facilities were installed. Francis Greenway, an architect who had been convicted of forgery in England, designed several wonderful buildings like St. James Church and the Hyde Park Barracks. Public works brought churches, hospitals, schools, and courthouses as well as parks throughout the city. By 1822, the city had many banks, markets, and a well-run police department.
circa 1900. From the Tyrrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum.
Photo by Powerhouse Museum
During the 1830s and 1840s, new waves of immigrants from Ireland and Britain arrived, seeking a new life. Continuous flows of immigrants to the Port of Sydney have made it one of the world's most international cities. The Port of Sydney was declared the first city in Australia in 1842 when it elected its first mayor, John Hosking.
Between 1850 and 1890, the Port of Sydney underwent a period of tremendous growth as the population swelled from 60 to 400 thousand people. Suburbs were built, and the railways were constructed. The Port of Sydney enjoyed several decades of happy prosperity. A financial crisis in the 1890s slowed, but did not stop the city's growth. By 1914, over a million people lived in the Port of Sydney.
Viewed from from Balmain, New South Wales, Australia
Photo by Adam.J.W.C.
For a time, the Port of Melbourne to the south overtook Sydney in both size and influence when the gold rush in Victoria colony brought a local economic boom. Melbourne became the capital and main financial center of Australia until Canberra was established as the country's capital in 1927.
The Port of Sydney had regained its position as the biggest city in Australia by 1911. Sydney was also the beneficiary when the country's trade shifted to Asia and North America after World War II. The Port of Sydney has continued to grow in size and influence since the mid-1950s. With that growth have come the common problems of pollution, crime, and traffic congestion that plague the world's sophisticated international centers.
circa 1900. From the the Powerhouse Museum collection.
Photo by Powerhouse Museum
During the 1960s, the Port of Sydney's Maritime Services Board began to implement its 10-year plan to redevelop Darling Harbor so that the Port of Sydney could keep pace with growing container trade and to relieve demands on the congested wharves and port facilities. Construction of Port Botany began in 1971, and the port was opened in 1979. Today, Port Botany is home to two of the Port of Sydney's stevedoring and bulk liquid facilities.
In 1995, the government abolished the Maritime Services Board, and the State-owned Sydney Ports Corporation was formed to govern the ports in Newcastle, Kembla, and Sydney. In 2002, the Port of Sydney celebrated its first century of operation.