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A Colonial Past

At the first settlement at Sydney Cove, Captair Witton Tench of the Marines wrote: to proceed on a narrow, confined scale in a country of the extensive limits we possess, would be unpardonable (the) extent of tmpire demands grandeur of design Such grand design began in 1810, when the vision of the new Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, was ptf into practice by the convict architect Francis Greenway, resulting in a heritage of splendid buildings. many of which are landmarks today. It continued through nearly a century of growth and lofty ideals to create a prosperous and busy metropolis - a great symbol of colonial aspirations.

As Sydney developed, it was both ‘mean and princely’, a mixture of broad, tree-lined avenues and narrow streets and alleys, grand buildings and crowded cottages and terraces. Its switchback, craggy hills around the indented harbour made orderly Georgian-style planning impossible, and the grand outlines of earlier days soon became blurred by the city’s growth from first settlement to colonial seat, to State capital to modem city.

In modern Sydney with its gleaming towers, its crowds and its traffic, substantial remnants of old Sydney can still be seen. Some parts of the city, like The Rocks area adjacent to Circular Quay, are almost pure history. The Rocks were the site of the first encampment of convicts and soldiers in 1788, and the site of Sydney’s first dwellings. Later it played host to a lively community of seamen, early entrepreneurs, emancipist traders, publicans, prostitutes and street gangs. Here the old hotels and bandstands, sandstone cottages and terrace houses, the Argyle Cut and Agar Steps, the Garrison Church and the village green form an oasis separated from the bustling city by Flagstaff Hill, where the old Observatory stands, and the approaches to the Harbour Bridge are seen.

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