A short history of Sydney Harbour

This painting by  Joseph Lycett , shows Port Jackson in 1824, a stark contrast to what is now Australia’s biggest city.

This painting by Joseph Lycett, shows Port Jackson in 1824, a stark contrast to what is now Australia’s biggest city.

For thousands of years Aboriginal people have been the custodians of Sydney Harbour and the lands around it. The twenty-nine Aboriginal clan groups from what is now describe as the Sydney metropolitan area, had a very deep, sustainable and harmonious relationship with their land which sustained them and governed the way they lived.

The Aboriginal people of coastal Sydney fished in the waters, hunted on the foreshore and hinterland and harvested food from the surrounding bush.

Self-sufficient and harmonious, Aboriginal people developed a rich and complex ritual life – language, customs, spirituality and the law – the heart of which was connection to the land. The widespread, but not widely known or appreciated, evidence of Aboriginal life and culture in coastal Sydney - shell middens, painted rock-shelters, burial sites, rock engravings - are all reminders of our city’s Aboriginal history dating for millennia before the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.

The mission of the First Fleet was to establish a penal colony in Australia which began from 1788. In the early 1800’s, there was a conscious push to transform the penal colony into a city. Wool, whaling and sealing were the beginnings of a burgeoning trade industry which lead to a time of wealth and prosperity. By the 1840’s, approximately 35,000 people lived in the ‘city’.

1926 saw the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge began which 6 years later, was opened on March 19th 1932.

In 1954, the New South Wales Premier Joseph Cahill wanted to build the Opera House to ‘help mould a better and more enlightened community’. The Sydney Opera House, now home to manly of the world’s greatest artists and performances, a meeting place for matters of local and international significance, was opened in 1973.

Now, Sydney is home to over 5 million people from all backgrounds. The city also welcomes more than 30 million visitors every year – boasting unsurpassed surf beaches, an iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, as well as the beauty of its great natural harbour.

The Bondi to Manly Walk celebrates Australia’s rich history, natural beauty and four of our most iconic landmarks.

It is a wonderful way to help people understand & appreciate our indigenous culture and heritage. It traverses a place that for tens of thousands of years sustained the Aboriginal people of coastal Sydney who flourished here before European settlement.

The Bondi to Manly Walk not only starts and finishes at Australia’s two most famous beaches, it passes both the Sydney Opera House and crosses the Sydney Harbour Bridge - Australia’s two best-known man made landmarks.

Together these places are the quintessential Australian postcards, recognised around the world.

The Bondi to Manly Walk celebrates Australia’s rich history, natural beauty and four of our most iconic landmarks. It is a must do walk for locals, tourists and serious walkers alike.

We believe the Bondi to Manly Walk is the greatest city walk in the world.

Port Jackson