Colonial Sydney. Lithographs (1886)

There is a certain picturesqueness and old-fashionedness about Sydney, which brings back pleasant memories of Old England, after the monotonous perfection of Melbourne and Adelaide  (Richard Twopeny Town Life in Australia: 1883).







The entrance to Port Jackson is grand in the extreme. The high, dark cliffs we had been coasting along all morning, suddenly terminate in an abrupt precipice, called the South Head, on which stand the lighthouse and signal-station. The North Head is a similar cliff, a bare bluff promontory of dark horizontal rocks. (Louise Anna Meredith Notes and Sketches of New South Wales; 1844)




I despair of being able to convey to any reader my own idea of the beauty of Sydney Harbour. I have seen nothing equal to it in the way of land-locked sea scenery, – nothing second to it. (Anthony Trollope Australia and New Zealand; 1873)



The most unpleasant feature about Sydney is, that there is a thoroughly untidy look about the place. It is in a perennial state of déshabille; whereas Melbourne nearly always has its dress-clothes on. In keeping with the wretched pavements, the muddy crossings, and the dust, are the clothes of the people you meet in the streets. Nobody seems to care much how they dress, and without being exactly countrified in their apparel, the Sydneyites succeed in looking pre-eminently dowdy.  (Twopeny,1883)


The Government Gardens are tastefully laid out round the sloping head of a small bay between the Domain and Government House, and contain (besides abundant vineries, and all other productive matters) a strange and beautiful assemblage of dwellers in all lands, from the tall bamboo of India to the lowly English violet. … close to the town is the beautiful Domain, a most picturesque rocky promontory, thickly wooded and laid out in fine smooth drives and walks, all commanding most exquisite views of Sydney and its environs …. It was a notorious fact, that maid-servants and their sweethearts resorted thither on Sundays, and of course that shocking circumstance ruined its character as a place for their mistresses to visit. (Meredith, 1844)


Lady Macquarie had this Domain laid out after her own plans; walks and drives were cut through the rocks and shrubs, but no other trees destroyed ; seats placed at intervals, and lodges built at the entrances. On the high point of the promontory some large horizontal rocks have been slightly assisted by art into the form of a great seat or throne, called Lady Macquarie’s Chair (Meredith, 1844)




Of the public buildings of Sydney, the handsomest are the Treasury, the Colonial Secretary’s office, and the Lands Office, each four or five stories high, and close to the water’s edge, (Twopeny, 1883)


The University, though comparatively an old building, still holds its ground amongst the best, and may well be proud of its splendidly proportioned hall, built in fifteenth-century Gothic. (Twopeny, 1883)


The Roman Catholic Cathedral, which has just been opened, is also well proportioned. The length is 350 feet; width within transept 118 feet; width of nave and aisle 74 feet; height about ninety feet. (Twopeny, 1883)


The Anglican Cathedral, though not large, is a handsome building with two towers, in fourteenth-century Gothic. (Twopeny, 1883)


The Town Hall has evidently been built with the idea of at all hazards making it larger than the Melbourne Town Hall. So far it is a success. But architecturally it is nothing more than a splendid failure – over-decorated and ginger-bready. (Twopeny, 1883)


Three different localities are combined to make Sydney. There is the old city … in which are George Street and Pitt Street, so called from George III and his minister, running parallel to each other, from the centre. The other chief streets are all named after the old governors, – Macquarie Street, King Street, Bligh Street, Hunter Street, and Phillip Street. Among these, Macquarie Street takes a proud pre-eminence…

To the south of these rises the important town of Wooloomooloo, … Wooloomooloo has become almost as big as Sydney, and much more fashionable and beyond Wooloomooloo, on and over various little coves of the sea, — Elizabeth Bay, and Rose Bay, and Double Bay, and Rushcutter’s Bay, — cluster the various villa residences of the wealthy families.

Then there is the ” North Shore,” less fashionable, but almost as beautiful as the hills round the southern coves. (Trollope,1873)















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  1. Pingback: Arrival – Forgotten tales

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