Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, and the oldest city in Australia, is situated on the southern shores of Port Jackson, and was named after Thomas Townshend, first Viscount Sydney (1733-1800), then Secretary of State for the Colonies. The first British settlers that reached New Holland were landed at Botany Bay (q.v.) on January 20, 1788. The spot here selected, being found ineligible, was abandoned a few days afterwards, and the infant settlement was transferred to a point 7 miles farther N., where Sydney now stands. The choice of the new locality was chiefly determined by a stream of fresh water flowing into Sydney Cove, one of the numberless bays into which the basin of Port Jackson is divided. This magnificent expanse of water, completely landlocked, and admitting vessels of the largest size, extends 20 miles inland, ramifying in every direction. Its bold and rocky shores, covered with luxuriant vegetation, present a succession of beautiful landscapes. The surrounding hills often rise to from 200 to 250 feet. In other points the coast consists of terraces and smooth sandy beaches. The narrow entrance of Port Jackson - through the ' Heads,' which are indicated by the Macquarie lighthouse, its electric light visible 30 miles at sea - is defended by the shore fortifications, torpedo boats, and a naval establishment on Garden Island. Sydney stands nearly in the centre of the immense coal formation of East Australia, which extends 500 miles N. and S., with a breadth of from 80 to 100 miles; and the sandstone rock on which it is erected affords a valuable building material.
The older streets are narrow and irregular; but several of the modern streets are not behind those of the principal towns of Europe. There are excellent lighting and drainage systems; and an abundant supply of pure water is obtained from the Nepean River, near Penrith. The Botanical Gardens cover 38 acres, and there are also numerous parks. Sydney has one shipbuilding establishment. The Fitzroy Dry Dock, originally intended for vessels of the royal navy, can take in ships of the largest size, and has been supplemented by one of the most extensive graving-docks in existence. Steps have been taken to put the city in a state of defence, and forts and batteries armed with powerful Armstrong guns have been erected. Amongst public buildings by far the most important edifice is the university (1852), which stands on a commanding height. The principal facade is 500 feet in length, and is flanked at its western end by the Great Hall. Affiliated to it are a women's college and three denominational colleges. The metropolitan cathedral of St Andrew is a handsome Perpendicular edifice; the R. C. cathedral of St Mary, burned in 1865, and since rebuilt, is one of the finest churches in Australia. There are also a technical university and technological museum, the museum, Colonial Secretary's office, lands office, post-office, customs office, town-hall (possessing the largest organ in the world), and public grammar-school. The Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital was built out of a bequest of £100,000. The neighbourhood of Sydney, especially the shores of the bays and the Parra-matta and Lane Cove rivers, is studded with villas, surrounded by park-like grounds, and gardens of orange-trees, bananas, and numberless semi-tropical plants. There are numerous industrial establishments, but Sydney is essentially a commercial rather than a manufacturing city. Pop. (1862) 93,596; (1881) 220,427; (1901) 487,900.
Sydney, a small town of Cape Breton (q.v.) with a large coalfield. Pop. 3200.