Postcards from 100 years ago



Circular Quay and Sydney Harbour

  454 The Tank Stream at Circular Quay

6 Circular Quay and Customs House6 Circular CuayCustoms House is one of Sydney's historic landmark buildings, which has featured in the working and cultural life of the city since it was constructed in 1845.

“For over 150 years, Customs House played an active role as the primary trade gateway for goods and people flowing into Sydney and Australia.”

Customs House is located on a significant site where the local Eora people are said to have watched the First Fleet land. The Aboriginal flag is now permanently flown from the building.

The Australian Customs Service occupied Customs House until 1990.  In 1994,  the City of Sydney was given the building to operate by the Federal Government

Circular Quay encroaches over the natural shoreline of Sydney Cove. At East Circular Quay the 1788 shoreline is indicated in the granite paving by cast bronze discs. The first constructed shoreline, reclaimed to form Circular Quay, is mapped by a continuous band of white granite.

8 Circular Quay and the ships


European settlement commenced at Sydney Cove in 1788. The Aboriginal flag is flown at the beautifully restored Customs House in recognition that it was built on the site where Australia's indigenous people reportedly watched the arrival of the First Fleet and where the British Flag was raised.

Initially used to unload sailing ships from England, Sydney Cove became the embarkation point for cargo and passenger ships, wool clippers, government and private boats.

8 Circular - now the heart of the City


10 Circular Quay on the Right with Bennelong Point

Bennelong Point is the location of the Sydney Opera House in. It was called Tubowghule by the local Indigenous Australians.

10 Bennelong Point now home to the Sydney Opera HouseThe point was originally a small tidal island, Bennelong Island, that largely consisted of rocks with a small beach on the western side. The island was located on the tip of the eastern arm of Sydney Cove and was apparently separated from the mainland at high tide. For a brief period in 1788, this relatively isolated protrusion into Port Jackson (Sydney's natural harbour) was called Cattle Point as it was used to confine the few cattle and horses that had been brought from Cape Town by Governor Phillip with the First Fleet.


75 Circular Quay from Milsons Point

75 Modern Milsons Point and Circular QuayMilsons Point on the opposite side of the harbour, is now the home to Luna Park fairground that opened in 1935, which in turn is host to a steam driven galloping horse carousel that was built in England around 1900. The Sydney's Coney Island is a fun park, almost all intact from the opening of the Park in 1935. The current park buildings covers the ground occupied by the station from 1915 to 1932.

James Milson (1783-1872), wes born in Lincolnshire, England. He arrived in Sydney in the Albion in August 1806 and obtained employment on a farm at the Field of Mars (near Ryde). In 1810 he married Elizabeth Kilpack his employer's daughter; he then described himself as 'servant and labourer'. His eldest son, also James, was born at the Field of Mars and went on to become one of Sydneys most progressive businessmen. Keenly interested in charities of various kinds, Milson was a director of the Sydney Sailors' Home and of the Benevolent Asylum. In 1881 he founded the Oberlin Friendly Aid Society 'to give friendly aid to cultured persons now indigent'. Like his father he was an enthusiastic yachtsman from the 1830s onwards and in 1862 was first vice-commodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and commodore in 1863.

 140 Sydney Ferries

The terminus of the finest ferry service in the world is written on the front of the card.

Sydney Ferries can trace its roots as far back as the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove where in 1789, the first ferry service was established from the Cove to the farming settlement of Parramatta. The first ferry, officially named the Rose Hill Packet (otherwise known as 'The Lump'), was crafted by convicts and powered by sails and oars. Trips inland from Sydney Cove to Parramatta typically took up to one week to complete. As time progressed, a series of rowboat ferrymen set up small operations to transport people from either side of Sydney Harbour.  56 Circular Quay - The finest ferry service!

In 1861, the North Shore Ferry Company was established which operated the very first commercial ferry service across Sydney Harbour.

In 1899, ferry services were integrated into Sydney Ferries Limited, which became the world's largest ferry operator by fleet size. After the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in March 1932, ferry patronage dropped almost overnight, decreasing from 30 to 13 million passengers per year.

143 Circular Quay

 298 Circular Quay looking West

299 Circular Quay Looking East


455 The build up of traffic - circular quay is getting to look like the modern


 260 Customs house in background

260 Customs House is now lost in the crowd









248 Customs house and its bigger brothers 

 463 Circular Quay

425 Sydney Harbour from Dawes Point

314 Harbour from Dawes Point













345 Sydney Harbour and The Heads from Fairlight


287 Harbour from Wooahra 




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