Circular Quay, Sydney
© Copyright Mike Fernandes 2013
Sydney’s Circular Quay from North Sydney
“”Let the start be made from the Circular Quay at an early hour, just as the great city awakens to another day of strong-pulsed life and bustling activity. From the mouth of the bay, a backward glance at the Quay shows the whole situation, and the contours of Sydney Cove - the chief water-gate of the city - with its background of stores, is taken in at one view. The low land at the mouth of the old Tank Stream was filled in, and a semi-circular wharf replaced the original shoreline, making a splendid city front, with an easier gradient tot he main streets than there is from any other wharf. The whole of this frontage remains as one property in the hands of the Government, with the exception of a portion of the north-west side, originally sold to Mr. Campbell, one of the first merchants to settle in the colony, and now the wharf of the Australasian Steam Navigation Company.
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The extreme point on the western side is not a wharf at all, but a reserve in front of Dawes' Battery, the guns of which point eastward straight down the harbour; the grassy slope in front - generally dotted over with nursemaids and children - makes on a summer afternoon a pleasant contrast to the adjoining jetties, steamers and sheds, always alive with strenuous labour. South of the jetties is the berth occupied by the Peninsular and Orient boats, one of which is always lying alongside, the lascars and coolies on deck, with their red caps and blue smocks, relieving the black hull with bits of foreign colour, while on the slope of the land rise the brick red offices of the A.S.N. Company. South of the P&O. steamer begins the Government portion of the wharf, with a fine berth for a large vessel, and behind it may be seen the Sailors' Home, the Mariners' Church and the Commissariat Store. This last is one of the oldest stone buildings in the colony, plain but substantial, built of material quarried on the spot, and showing that Sydney sandstone can weather a hundred years of exposure without deterioration.
The centre of the crescent was once ordinary wharfage, but it has now been entirely given up to waterman's stairs and for the accommodation of harbour steamers, the passenger traffic focussing here, connected as this place is with the tram service and the omnibus routes. Clustering on the water's edge, along the dark stone coping of the Quay, are the waiting-rooms attached to the jetties of the harbour ferry-boats. On the eastern side, a portion of the wharf is devoted to outward-bound ships, which load up their cargoes conveniently from the great produce stores, separated from the wharf by only the width of the road. Northward the Orient Company has rented a portion of the wharf frontage, with one of its covered goods sheds, and beyond that again lie the boats of the Messageries Maritimes, lively with foreign uniforms and costumes, and telling of that intermingling of the peoples of many lands which follows so closely in the train of commerce.
Adjoining this berth is the boatshed of the harbour police, and next to that the steam ferry for horses and carts, which plies all day long to Milson's Point. The eastern, like the western point, is still a public reserve, the site of Fort Macquarie, one of the ancient structures, but now destined to give way to a railway shed. Leading up to the point is a rocky escarpment, the pathway along the summit of which has received the borrowed name of the Tarpeian Way.” Though this description of Sydney Harbour was written over 100 years ago it is almost relevant today and is worthy of being read. From The Picturesque Atlas of Australia by Andrew Garren
Circular Quay
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