Thank goodness life has a few little surprises for us. Pleasant ones that is. I must have walked passed the grand looking Customs House at Circular Quay hundreds of times, but this day, I decided to actually go in. Little did I know, as if it's some state secret, that this is actually a branch of the City of Sydney library. They're not allowed to have a sign at the front indicating that they're a library. Heritage issues apparently. And you can dine in at Customs House. On the ground floor you will find the Quay Bar, a Parisian style bar and bistro and on the roof top, the renowned Cafe Sydney, with its "sun-drenched" outdoor terrace.
But there's another state secret, one that left me dumbfounded; The Model City of Sydney.
Now, I think I have a reasonable knowledge of Sydney. I don't consider myself ignorant or stupid, but, how did I not know that this existed? Gee I felt stupid. Displayed under a glass floor near the entrance is a marvellous scale model of Sydney. At a scale of 1:500, it covers over 10 square kilometres of the city centre. It comprises over 1000 brilliantly detailed buildings, 5000 trees, street lighting, people, cars and boats. There was a constant flow of visitors, mostly tourists, meandering through. Everyone looked memorised and impressed by the detail of this miniature Sydney.
Much to my shame, the model city has only been on display since 1998.
So unlike me, don't be intimidated by the grandeur of Customs House or its lack of signage. Whether you are interested in its history, its grand interior, a bite to eat, reading a book at the library or just marvelling at the miniature model of Sydney, it's well worth a detour for both tourist and local alike.
On the Loftus St side of Customs House there is a flag that marks (the estimated) place where the First Fleet erected a flag on 26th January 1788....and nobody knows that is there either....even alot of the Customs House librarians!?