Historic Sites

Every city has its own unique feel and vibe, which is determined by a number of things. The local historic sites are no doubt one of the largest contributing factors to the aura that surrounds a city. When in Sydney, users recommend paying a visit to Government House, in the Sydney Harbour area to get a feel for what truly makes up the city.


Once considered the finest building in New South Wales, this Greek Revival villa is best known for its domed circular staircase. Furnished in mid-19th century style, the house offers an accurate portrayal of upper class society in Colonial Australia. The second floor of the beautiful building affords a spectacular view of the city. You'll frequently find exhibitions on interior design in the space. An immaculate restoration. BUS: Route 311 from Circular Quay.

Read more about Elizabeth Bay House →

Each June, this impressive theatre hosts the Sydney Film Festival. Built in 1929, the structure was intended to attract people to the movies, and the 2000-seat Art Deco-style theatre is still in its original condition. Even the Wurlitzer organ remains in working order and is the only Wurlitzer to be found in its original location. Other features of the incredible building include a 20,000-piece chandelier and an amazing Gothic foyer. St. James Railway Station or George Street buses.

Read more about State Theatre →

Circular Quay
Customs House

Built in 1845, this structure was one of the most important buildings in the colony for many years. Currently, the French Neoclassical building houses exhibition spaces, a craft gallery, bars, the main Sydney library and restaurants. Be sure to check out the 1:500 scale model of the Sydney CBD, and note the aboriginal flag, which flies here permanently as a reminder of the negative effect White settlers had on the Eora People. A free movie about the Harbour is shown every 30 minutes. Located across from Circular Quay station.

Read more about Customs House →

The Rocks

Located on an island in the Harbour, Fort Denison features a Martello tower, a gun battery, and barracks, all of which date back to 1855, when the British built the fort against possible Russian attacks. Those attacks, thankfully, never occurred; in fact, the only action the fort ever saw was a misfire from a Japanese sub in WWII, which caused minimal damage. Originally, the rocky island was known as Pinchgut since it was used to house convicts who were given very small rations. Nowadays, visitors can tour the fort, see the intact cannons, and hear them fired daily at 1pm. Bookings can be arranged through the National Parks and Wildlife Service Tours, tours begin at Fort Denison, which is reachable by ferry from Circular Quay, Wharf 6 (Ferry ticket included in the tour price). Hat and sunscreen essential.

Read more about Fort Denison →

Sydney Harbour

Home to the Governor of NSW until 1996 (when it became part of the historic houses trust), this building offers an excellent collection of 19th and 20th century furniture and grants magnificent views over the Harbour and Botanic Gardens. In fact, the gardens of the Government House are now officially part of the Botanic Gardens. At times the house is still used for official occasions. TRAIN: to Circular Quay or Martin Place.

Read more about Government House →

North Sydney

Kirribilli Point is the home to Australia's governor-general and Prime Minister. Located just east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge lies Kirribilli Point and the Gothic Revival style Kirribilli House, built in 1846 where the Prime Minister puts their feet up when in town. Further down is the Admirality House built in 1846 where the Governor General rests and is slightly closer to the water and the bridge. While these houses are tightly shut-off from the road by its gates, they can be more easily seen from the water. So why not take a trip out on the harbour and soak in some Australian Government history along the way.

Read more about Kirribilli Point →

Take a stroll down memory lane, which, in Sydney, is known as Macquarie Street. Much of Sydney's finest Georgian and Victorian architecture can be found on this street, along with many of her restored public buildings. Some of the buildings you'll see include Sydney Hospital (dating from 1894), the State Library of NSW (which houses Captain Cook's original journals), Parliament House, and the Royal Mint. The street's name comes from Lachlan Macquarie, the governor responsible for much of Sydney's early development. TRAIN: to St. James or Circular Quay.

Read more about Macquarie Street →

Entry by guided tour only, Susannah Place Museum is a set of three cottages which function on a \"Museum in the Making\" concept. This set-up lets visitors learn about conservation techniques involved in museums and also portrays the limits of working class, 19th century inner-city living. The house was inhabited from 1844 until the 1970s and the tour beautifully evokes a sense of time and place. The entry shop sells items from the relevant periods. Five minutes walk from Circular Quay station.

Read more about Susannah Place →

This Gothic Revival cathedral, modeled after Notre Dame, is a must-see. It boasts a beautiful terrazzo-tiled floor in the crypt, and stained glass windows depict the early days of Catholicism. Although Sydney was settled in 1788, it wasn't until 1821 that the Catholic mass was allowed to be held in the colony. In that year, the first chapel was also built, although the spires were not completed until the year 2000. Try to visit on a Sunday around 10:30am, when the famous choir sings. TRAIN: to St James Station.

Read more about St Mary's Cathedral →

Built in 1815, this cottage is the oldest residential building in Australia. Made of sandstone, it was the home of ex-convict and government coxswain John Cadman and is now an information center for the National Parks and Wildlife offices. The building's original site was along the Harbour. Short walk from Circular Quay.

Read more about Cadman's Cottage →