The Centre Of Everything: Sydney’s Circular Quay

The Centre Of Everything: Sydney’s Circular Quay

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 05/01/2016

Reading time: 3 mins

As the centre of all Sydney’s favourite attractions, it’s more than likely you will spend time at Circular Quay during your holiday to Sydney!

Sydney is a tourist favourite Circular Quay is the central hub of Sydney Harbour and is the starting point for numerous attractions in the area. It’s located in Sydney Cove, a small, picturesque inlet, which was actually the founding site of Sydney and Australia as a whole.

With such an exciting collection of attractions within its clutches, the Circular Quay is often a hive of activity, bursting with vibrant scenes of locals and tourists alike, especially when the sun is shining. A regularly rotating schedule of ferries leaves every few minutes, connecting up other parts of the harbour, including popular spots like Manly, Watsons Bay, and Taronga Park Zoo. The Quay also provides exceptional views of the Harbour Bridge which languishes nearby.

The History of Circular Quay

As well as an exciting collection of attractions, Circular Quay also has a fascinating history. Sydney Cove, where the Quay is situated, was the initial landing spot back in 1788, and is considered to be the founding spot of Australia by the western world.

The Quay quickly became an important hub for shipping and, over time, became the go to place for transport, leisure, and recreational activities. Back then it was known as Semi-Circular Quay to reflect its true shape, but its name has since been shortened for ease and convenience.

During its time as a favourite transport hub, the Quay acted as a focal point for many of the electric tram services that weaved throughout Sydney, connecting up the east and west parts of the city. But before that, the Circular Quay was accessed by a horse-drawn tram service which ran from the old Sydney Railway station along to Pitt Street during the mid-19th Century.

What you can see there

Circular Quay is at the foot of the central business district and the older, historic end of the city. Home to a major railway station, the central station loops around the City Circle, making it the centre to the Sydney’s city CBD.

The Circular Quay is also home to the Sydney Opera House, and there’s a walkway that joins the two together, as well as the Royal Botanical Gardens. To the north of the Quay, you can take a stroll along lush, landscaped pathways to The Rocks, which form one of the oldest parts of the city.

Because of its location, there is a unique mix of old and new architecture, shops, restaurants, and sights to see. The streets are jam-packed with numerous cosy outdoor cafes that guarantee a delicious steaming coffee to enjoy while you sightsee around. Restaurants and bars offer spectacular views of the Quay, letting you spot the iconic attractions of Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge while you sit and relax with a wine and platter of nibbles. After you have refuelled, stroll down the streets and stop into the many shops offered here, from boutique fashion stores, art shops, to even perfect souvenir goodies up for grabs.

Related article: Where you should stay in Sydney?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.