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50,000-45,000 BP –

Near Penrith, a far western suburb of Sydney, numerous Aboriginal stone tools were found in Cranebrook Terraces gravel sediments dating to this time period; at first when these results were new they were controversial. More recently in 1987 and 2003, dating of the same strata has revised and corroborated these dates.

30,000 BP – 

Radiocarbon dating suggests human activity occurred in and around the Sydney basin, as evidenced by an archaeological dig in Parramatta, in Western Sydney. The finds show that the Aboriginal Australians in that region used charcoal, stone tools and possible ancient campfires.

21,100-17,800 BP –

Stone artifact assemblages dating to this time period discovered in Shaws Creek (near Hawkesbury River) and in Blue Mountains. A rock shelter with flakes dating to this period discovered near Nepean River.

4,000-2,000 BC –

The first backed stone artifacts developed, such as blades and spears. The stones would drill, scrape, cut and grind material. They were also associated with woodworking.

1,000-500 BC –

Bone and shell usage dating to this period discovered. They would've been attached to fishing spear prongs, which would mean that multi-pronged fishing spears occurred at this time. The evidence of spear-throwing is suggested by an excavated shell in Balmoral Beach.




18th–19th Centuries


1770 –

Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook, in command of the HMS Endeavour, sighted the east coast of Australia and landed at a bay in what is now southern Sydney.

1788 –

Sydney founded as British penal settlement following arrival of the First Fleet of eleven vessels under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip; French vessels under the command of Lapιrouse land in Botany Bay.

1792 – 

Burial Ground established.

1796 –

Population: 2,953.

1797 –

Prospect, a western Sydney suburb, became the boundary between colonists and indigenous Australians. Hostility grew where a state of guerrillawarfare existed between indigenous people and the settler communities at Prospect and Parramatta. The aboriginal people were led by their leader, Pemulwuy, a member of the Bidjigal tribe who occupied the land.

1803 –

Sydney Gazette newspaper begins publication.

1804 –

Fort Philip construction begins.

1808 –

Rum Rebellion.

1810 –

Macquarie Street laid out.

1816 –

Royal Botanic Gardens open.


Sydney Hospital built.

1817 –

Bank of New South Wales established.

1819 –

Hyde Park Barracks built.

1820 –

Devonshire Street Cemetery established.

1823 –

Sydney Royal Easter Show begins.

1824 –

St James' Church consecrated.

1825 –

New South Wales Legislative Council established in Sydney.

1831 –

Weekly Sydney Herald newspaper begins publication.

1833 –

Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts founded.

1836 –

Australian Museum established.

1837 –

Government House and Botany-Sydney aqueduct built.

1838 –

David Jones (shop) in business.

1839 –

Cockatoo Island prison in operation.

1840 –

Farmers & Co. in business.

1841 –

Darlinghurst Gaol in operation.

1842 –

City incorporated; city council elected.


Area of city: 11.65 square kilometres (approximate).


Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney established.

1850 –

University of Sydney established.


Freeman's Journal newspaper begins publication.

1854 –

Sydney Cricket Ground opens.


St Paul's College founded.

1856 –

First Pyrmont Bridge built.


St Philip's Church rebuilt.

1857 –

St John's College founded.

1858 –

Sydney Observatory built.

1859 –

Parliamentary electoral districts of East Sydney and West Sydney created.

1861 –

Population: 95,000 city and suburbs.

1868 –

Belmore Park opens.


St Andrew's Cathedral consecrated.

1869 –

Sydney Free Public Library established.

1871 –

Sydney Exchange and Academy of Art founded.

1877 –

Waverley Cemetery established near city.

1878 –

Robinson-Finlay wedding takes place.

1879 –

Sydney Riot of 1879


Sydney International Exhibition held; Garden Palace built.


Art Gallery of New South Wales opens.


Dymocks Bookseller in business.


New South Wales Zoological Society founded.


Royal National Park established near city.

1881 –

Population: 237,300 city and suburbs.

1882 –

Sydney Showground opens.


St Mary's Cathedral consecrated.

1883 –

Melbourne–Sydney railway built.


Sydney High School and Sydney Wharf Labourers Union established.

1889 –

Sydney Town Hall built.


Women's College and Sydney Church of England Grammar School founded.

1890 –

Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ installed.


Kerry photography studio in business.

1891 –

General Post Office built.


Population: 399,270 city and suburbs.


Australia Hotel in business.

1892 –

Strand Arcade opens.

1893 –

Technological Museum opens.

1894 –

Photographic Society of New South Wales founded.

1895 –

City Tattersalls Club formed.

1898 –

Queen Victoria Building constructed.

1900 –

Sydney Harbour Trust active.



20th century



1901 –

City becomes part of the new Commonwealth of Australia.


Royal Australian Historical Society founded.


Population: 112,137 city; 369,693 suburbs.

1902 –

Second Pyrmont Bridge built.

1903 –

Glebe Island Bridge and Her Majesty's Theatre rebuilt.

1904 –

Electric street lighting installed.

1905 –

Hordern's Palace Emporium in business.

1906 –

Central railway station built.


Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club active.

1907 –

20 October: Bathing costume protests.


Melbourne–Sydney telephone begins operating.

1908 –

Camperdown becomes part of city.


New South Wales Rugby League Premiership formed

1909 –

City of Sydney Library established.

1910 –

The Sun newspaper begins publication.

1912 –

Culwulla Chambers built.

1913 –

Parcel Post Office built in Railway Square.

1915 –

Sydney Conservatorium of Music established.

1916 –

14 February: Liverpool riot of 1916.

1917 –

 J.G. Park photography studio in business (approximate date).

1920 –

18 February: World's "first" swimsuit competition (beauty contest) held in Sydney.


Hurlstone Park Choral Society formed.

1924 –

Sydney Airport begins operating.


Hordern Pavilion built.

1927 –

St James railway station opens.


Sydney Cenotaph erected.

1928 –

Capitol Theatre opens.


Government Savings Bank building constructed.

1929 –

State Theatre opens.


Sun Building constructed.

1930 –

Modern Art Centre opens.


Grace Building constructed.

1932 –

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Town Hall railway station, and Wynyard railway station open.


Dymocks building constructed.

1935 –

Luna Park and Astoria Theatre open.

1938 –

City hosts 1938 British Empire Games.

1939 –

AWA Tower built.

1940 –

St. James Theatre opens.

1941 –

Daily Mirror newspaper begins publication.

1942 –

May–June: Attack on Sydney Harbour by Japanese forces.

1946 –

Sydney Symphony Orchestra active.

1947 –

Population: 95,852 city; 1,484,434 metro.

1949 –

Alexandria, Darlington, Erskineville, Glebe, Newtown, Paddington, Redfern, and Waterloo become part of the city.





1953 –

Sydney Sun-Herald newspaper in publication.

1954 –

Sydney Film Festival begins.

1956 –

ATN Channel 7 television begins broadcasting.

1964 –

Paddington Society founded.

1967 –

Australia Square hi-rise built.

1968 –

South Sydney Municipal Council created.

1971 –

Sister city relationship established with San Francisco, USA.


City of Sydney Strategic Plan created.

1972 –

Aboriginal Medical Service established in Redfern.

1973 –

Sydney Opera House opens.

1977 –

Sydney Festival begins.


MLC Centre built.

1979 –

9 June: 1979 Sydney Ghost Train fire.


Martin Place pedestrianised.


Martin Place railway station opens.


Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras begins.


Sydney Theatre Company founded.

1981 –

Sydney Tower erected.

1983 –

Beverly Hills Twin Cinema in business.

1985 –

Parliament House rebuilt.


Granny Smith Festival begins in Eastwood.

1987 –

University of Sydney's Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific established.

1988 –

CityRail in operation.


University of Technology, Sydney and University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies established.


Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre and Powerhouse Museum open.


Australian Bicentenary events staged.


Bicentennial Park, Homebush Bay and Mount Annan Botanic Garden open near city.

1989 –

South Sydney City Council established.


Area of city: 6.19 square kilometres.

1990 –

Sydney Children's Choir active.

1991 –

Frank Sartor becomes lord mayor.

1993 –

South Sydney Heritage Society founded.

1994 –

Sydney International Aquatic Centre opens.

1995 –

Anzac Bridge opens.

1997 –

Asian Australian Artists’ Association Gallery 4A opens.

1998 –

July: 1998 Sydney water crisis begins.


BridgeClimb Sydney in business.

1999 –

Sydney Super Dome, Stadium Australia, and City Recital Hall open.

2000 –

September: City hosts 2000 Summer Olympics.


City of Sydney Historical Association founded.


21st century


2001 –

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust established.


Population: 4,128,272.

2003 – 

Lowy Institute for International Policy headquartered in city.

2004 –

14 February: 2004 Redfern riots.


City of South Sydney becomes part of City of Sydney.


Clover Moore becomes lord mayor.

2005 –

December: 2005 Cronulla riots occur near city.


Cross City Tunnel opens.


Bankstown Bites Food Festival and Sydney Comedy Festival begin.

2007 –

September: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meets in city.


Sydney Underground Film Festival begins.

2009 –

Institute for Economics and Peace headquartered in city.


Festival of Dangerous Ideas begins.




2011 –

Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder cricket teams formed.


Population: 4,028,524.

2013 –

Sydney Trains in operation.

2014 –

Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island opens.


15 December: The 2014 Sydney hostage crisis begins

2017 –

3 May: Labor strike of Sydney Morning Herald newspaper journalists begins.



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