The capital of the State of New South Wales, Sydney is Australia's first and largest city. Sydney is held to be the cultural capital of Australia. Home to a staggering population of 4.5 million, this stunning city has many secrets of its own. Read on to find out my top picks of some of the quirky facts about Sydney.
1. A city named Sydney was born
In pursuit of establishing a penal settlement, Arthur Phillips came to Sydney, a then absolutely obscure territory, and camped in Sydney Cove on the shores of Port Jackson, in the year 1788. Arthur Phillips was attracted by the abundance of fish and animals in the area which made it an ideal settlement location. And thus, a city named Sydney took birth which went onto become one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The traditional owners of the land that came to be known as Sydney, were the Eora Aboriginal people who slowly disappeared into the abyss of history from diseases imported by the Europeans, social dislocation and over power struggle with the settlers.
In the second part of the 20th century, Sydney was infamous for organised crime and was a hub of prolific crime and rife corruption. The evil spread its tentacles all the way up to the pinnacle of the politics, legal and justice system. Sydney earned the nickname of Sin City. Sydney's Underbelly, organised crime was spread all over Darlinghurst, Kings Cross, Surrey Hills, Chippendale etc.
Professor Alfred W McCoy once said, "No city in the world can rival Sydney's tolerance for organised crime".
However, all that is long behind us and now only forms a slice of the past, best displayed in the museums.
3. Sydney Opera House, from rubbish to glory In 1956, in an international design competition held by the New South Wales Government out of 233 entries Danish architect Jorn Utzon's design was chosen to create what is now known and loved as the Sydney Opera house. This design is said to have been rescued from a stash of discarded submissions and could have easily remained forgotten forever in a pile of rubbish! The prize money for winning the competition was £5,000, or an astounding $140,000 in today's money.
Next time you are at the Sydney Opera House, take time to ponder for a moment how we had almost lost this truly maginificient design in a pile of rubbish!
4. Funnelweb spider World's deadliest spider, the Funnelweb spider, can be found in Sydney. This spider is the only species of the spider family which has killed people within 2 hours. Its venom is lethal and its fangs are powerful enough to bite through fingernails and gloves. Unfortunately, humans and monkeys are the only animals with no immunity to the Funnelweb's venom. So don't forget to blow away any cobweb if you see any.
5. Sydney Morning Herald, the pioneer
Everyone knows Sydney Morning Herald has been around for what feels like forever. But very few people are privy to the fact that Sydney Morning Herald is the oldest newspaper in Australia which first saw daylight in the year 1831.
6. The Coathanger
The Coathanger or the Sydney Harbour Bridge is the largest and widest steel-arch Bridge. This bridge is 48.8 metres (151.3 feet) wide and according to the Guinness Book of Records is the widest long span Bridge in the world. Until 1967 this bridge was the tallest structure in Sydney. The highest point of the arch is 134 metres (440 feet).
History tells us it took over eight years to build the bridge. Construction commenced in July 1923 and finally finished in March 1932. The 'Father of the Bridge' is Dr JJC Bradfield who prepared the general design. This general design was later given life by Ralph Freeman, who was subsequently honoured with a knighthood.