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Sydney Insiders Blog

History

Why do we celebrate Christmas like we do in Australia?

a group of people posing for the camera

Australians get into the festive spirit in a variety of ways, but there are some staples of an Aussie Christmas: a non-stop food fest, possibly an outdoor activity and a necessary kip in the afternoon. One senior historian says this style of Christmas has its roots in the mid-1800s, when early settlers longed for home…

Room 8 in the Russell Hotel…sleep there if you dare

a close up of a clock tower on a cloudy day

This is known as the most haunted hotel room in Australia, said to be inhabited by the ghost of a sailor murdered by a prostitute. The ghost supposedly only appears to women sleeping alone, recreating the circumstances of his death. Employees have said they felt like they were walking through a cobweb, like they were…

When Liverpool brought Sydney to a halt

a group of people standing in front of a fence

In 1964 The Beatles traveled to Australia for their first and only tour. At the time, all the best and brightest stars in the entertainment galaxy stayed at one hotel, The Chevron Hilton Hotel in Kings Cross. This was Sydney’s only first Five Star international hotel. The “Silver Spade” dining room, was on the first…

The dead centre of Sydney secrets revealed

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Before large cemeteries were created throughout Sydney, the local parishes buried their dead within their own grounds.  Sydney’s first official cemetery was located where Sydney Town Hall now stands. Dating back to the 1790s, the site is commonly called the Old Sydney Burial Ground. The site, on the outskirts of town, was chosen by Governor…

A tragedy that hides beneath the waters of Sydney

underwater view of a coral

Sydney Harbour may be the city’s sparkling centre piece but its sandy bottom reveals its darker side. The city’s coast and harbour have claimed more than 140 ships and hundreds of lives since the First Fleet arrived in 1788. For example, when you sail over the Middle Head stretch of Sydney Harbour, you may not…

The Rocks…where the dead pay your bills.

a large brick building with a purple flower

Ex-convict Michael Gannon was a carpenter, and given how profitable death was in The Rocks in those days, he focused especially on coffins. This led to him beginning work as an undertaker (a natural career progression, of course) in the rear of the property. Today the building houses the Gannon House Gallery, which showcases incredible…

Sydney’s secret repository of peace and quiet

a large body of water

In a city obsessed with water views, Bantry Bay remains a comparatively little-seen wonder. This gangly strip of water at the top of Middle Harbour is cradled by the bushland of Garigal national park. Along the bay’s western shores are historical magazines, once used to store explosives, but these days, Bantry Bay is a repository…

From your pocket to the podium

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Only in Sydney can you turn loose change into something worth a small fortune. Many Sydney locals used to drop their “shrapnel”, 1 and 2-cent coins, into ash trays, fruit bowls many into the boxes of Salvation Army collectors. The coins were phased out in 1992 but still remain legal tender as long as you…

Entombed in a Sydney Icon

a group of people posing for a photo

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was first opened in 1932. It took enormous effort to build with workers being pulled to work on the project from all parts of the world. Three ships were constructed exclusively for the task of carrying materials from Moruya Quarry for the massive 89 meter pylons. There are 16 officially reported…

Wonderland City or Elephant graveyard?

a vintage photo of a large crowd of people in a body of water

If you were looking out over Tamarama beach in 1906, your view of the ocean would have been interrupted by a rollercoaster. The track ran in a loop, twisting and turning from one side of the cliffs to another, elevated on tall metal stilts. It was part of Wonderland City, a theme park that offered…