The Historic Landmarks of the Central Business District of Sydney, Australia

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The City of Sydney, Australia has been inhabited for almost 30,000 years, and was discovered by western travellers in the 1770’s when the British when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula. With settlers according after that the city has grown up with substantial colonial history at it’s cross roads. When you explore the cities streets, buildings and landmarks, it’s history and legacy are almost everywhere.


This post is one chapter in our trip to Australia on Air Canada & Qantas Business Class and United Airlines. This trip was booked using British Airways Executive Club Avios and Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) points. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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City Visit: The Historic Landmarks of the Central Business District of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

This post is about the historic landmarks of the Central Business District of Sydney, Australia. For other attractions in Sydney, please see our visit to the Sydney Opera House along the Sydney Harbour Walk, or our visit to Bondi Beach, Sydney.


My Last Visit to Sydney, Australia:

It had been over 16 years since my last visit to Sydney. I was aged twenty four at the time, and the city seemed to be one of the most international places I’d ever visited. When I was twenty four, I was staying in grungy hostels in Kings Cross and backpacking my way from Sydney to Cairns. Now, at the age of 41, and another 45 countries under my travelling belt, the city was still pleasantly exotic. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the city had lost just a little bit of its worldly luster. 

We had a great 5 days in the city, touring around some of the usual sights. During our visit in November, the city was in full preparation for Christmas holidays. The sandstone buildings were especially unique and memorable from my last visit. 

I was a bit surprised at what a shopping city Sydney has become. I suppose it makes sense, since it’s so far away from everything.  These were some of the highlights of our time in Sydney, Australia.

The Queen Victoria Building:

One of the greatest buildings in the central business district of Sydney, Australia is the Queen Victoria Building. The Queen Victoria Building, now affectionately known as the QVB, was built in 1898 and designed by 28 year old architect George McRae. It replaced the original Sydney markets on the site. Built as a monument to the long reigning monarch, construction took place in dire times, whilst Sydney was in a severe recession.

Originally, a concert hall, coffee shops, offices, showrooms, warehouses and a wide variety of tradespeople, such as tailors, mercers, hairdressers and florists, were accommodated.

Over many decades, change saw the concert hall become the city library alongside additional tenants including piano tuners, palmists and clairvoyants.

The Queen Victoria Building
The contrast of old and new in downtown Sydney
The Queen outside of the Queen Victoria Building
The Interior has been refurbished to modern standards; maintaining it’s original decor

The Queen Victoria Building is surrounded by modern era towers making for a striking contrast between old and new.

Surrounded by Giants
Towers hover over the Queen Victoria Building

The Westfield Tower

There are other impressive structures around the Central Business District. The commercial giant Westfield also has a giant tower. It is the tallest structure in Sydney and the second highest observation deck in the Southern Hemishpere.

Historic Buildings under the Westfield Tower

The Archibald Memorial Fountain at Hyde Park:

One of Sydney’s nicest features is the fact that beautiful Hyde Park is aligned with the entire eastern flank of the Central Business District. The park contains many wonderful features in it, including the Archibald Memorial Fountain.

The Archibald Memorial Fountain was designed and installed in the year 1932. The Archibald Fountain is located in Hyde Park North on the eastern side of the Central Business District, and at the intersection of the main avenues crossing Hyde Park. The fountain, by French sculptor Francois Sicard, commemorates the association between Australia and France in World War I. It draws its themes from Greek antiquity and is an example in Sydney of the classical revivalist sculpture of the 1920’s and 1930’s, also known as Art Deco.

The Archibald Memorial Fountain
The Archibald Fountain

The Bottom Line: The landmarks of Sydney, Australia

The city of Sydney, Australia has world famous landmarks that attract tourists from around the world to the city. Walking through the central business district is a great opportunity to see some history, with roots that stretch back several hundred years. As one of the world’s cosmopolitan cities, there is enough here to keep you entertained for several days.


If you’ve visited Sydney, Australia, what is your favourite attraction within the city?

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