SS Stratheden berthed at Circular Quay, 1950

The History of Sydney

Late 20th Century:
1946 - 2000

During the first half of the 20th century, the motor car inched its way into the Australian lifestyle, initially as a toy for the rich. After World War II it came into its own as an essential means of transport for people of every walk of life and social standing. To own a car became as important and essential as owning a 3 bedroom home on a quarter acre block in suburbia due to the size that Sydney had grown to and the time it now took to get around it. In 1941, there were 205,906 registered vehicles on the roads of New South Wales.

According to the registration records of 1959, Sydney alone was home to 515,297 private cars, 49,217 business vehicles, 88,653 trucks and 12,841 busses. Over the years those numbers have continued to rise steadily. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, millions of dollars were spent upgrading existing roads and adding a system of freeways and motorways to help ease the growing congestion of traffic as the motor vehicle became an essential part of the lives of the people of Sydney.

The post-war motor vehicle population explosion was mirrored by a human population explosion which began in 1947 when Australia opened its doors to wartime refugees from Southern Europe. Tens of thousands of people from Austria, Poland, Yugoslavia, Germany, Hungary, Serbia and their neighbouring countries migrated to Australia, eager to start a new life in the land of opportunity, with Melbourne and Sydney becoming the final destination of a large majority of them.

By 1953, the influx of refugees had abated but the Australian Government, seeing the benefit of the contribution these newcomers were making towards the development of the country, forged agreements with a number of their European counterparts which fostered migration to Australia. Known as the Assisted Passage scheme, the Australian Government offered to subsidise the fares of people wishing to migrate to Australia. Such migrants were required to pay the equivalent of £10 ($20), the Australian Government paid the rest. Extensive advertising campaigns promoting the scheme led to an even greater influx of new faces, with Britains, Greeks and Italians predominant among the new arrivals. This unprecedented migrant intake is reflected in Sydney's population, which rose by over 120,000 between 1946 and 1951.

The influx of people led to a housing boom similar to that of the 1880s. The rate of individual home ownership grew from 45% of all dwellings in 1947 to 71% by 1961. Suburban Sydney expanded along its beaches from Mona Vale and the Barrenjoey Peninsular in the north to Cronulla and the shores of Port Hacking in the south. Pockets of undeveloped land between the main roads and rail corridors such as those in and around Castle Hill, Carlingford, Fairfield, Bankstown and Liverpool were filled in with new suburbs. Market gardens, orchards, small farms and poultry sheds were replaced by fibro or brick veneer bungalows.

SS Oriana at the new Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal, 1960

During the 1950s and early 1960s, the wharves of Wooloomooloo, Sydney Cove, Walsh Bay and Pyrmont were alive with the sound of new arrivals. Barely a week went by without a liner steaming into port with more hopefuls from Europe. To cope with the demand, a new passenger terminal was built on the western shore of Circular Quay. Ironically, the first ship to use it was not a migrant ship but the cruise liner SS Oriana on its maiden voyage in 1960. Its visit reflected a change in direction being taken by international travel in which the airliner would replace the ocean liner, a move which saw the latter being relegated to holiday cruising. The terminal had become obsolete even as it was being brought into service. Being too large for its new role as host to the occasional cruiseliner, it was appropriately modified, though never was utilised fully for the initial function for which it was built.

By the 1970s, the flow of migrants from Europe was replaced by an influx of Asians, many escaping the horrors of war torn South-East Asia. This was made possible by the abolition of the White Australian Policy which had precluded migration to Australia by the majority of none European races for the large part of the century.

Australia now declared itself a multicultural society and began taking in migrants from all corners of the globe, a policy it continues to embrace today. Sydney and Melbourne were still a major drawcard for the newcomers, with the majority choosing Sydney as their new home.

Suburban growth, particularly in the outlying suburbs, brought with it the challenge of providing new and additional community services and facilities, the greater load falling on the shoulders of local government. This growth brought with it a change of approach to many aspects of life and one that was to undergo a radical change was shopping. The city centre, where traditionally the bigger stores were located, was much further away and less accessible as a result of the increased traffic on the roads and distances one had to travel to get there from the newly developing outlying areas. Following the model set in California, the shopping experience entered a new phase with the introduction of the suburban shopping centre. Top Ryde (1957) was the first, followed by Roselands (1965) in the south and Warringah in the north. The latter pair set the pattern for the future - giant block buildings that were easily accessible and offering ample parking space for the family motor car. The people warmed to these new centres, drawn by what they had to offer including a handful of major department stores, a visit to which had previously meant a visit to the Sydney Central Business District; a choice of food and grocery stores plus a wide selection of other shops and services such as banks and building societies. Even the grocery store had changed, with self service, wide aisles, trolleys and checkouts replacing the traditional shopkeeper behind the counter.


Watsons Bay tram

During the inter war period, Sydney s tram system was Australia's largest. In 1933 it was running profitably, therefore it is hard to believe that within the short space of 6 years, commencing with the Manly and northern beaches lines, the dismantling of the Sydney tram system would begin and that it would take only a further 22 years for it to disappear completely from the Sydney landscape. The relative ease with which it happened was made possible because the system as a whole was made up of a number of isolated sections, however it is unlikely that it would have happened so quickly had there not been political forces at work to sway the hands of those in authority.

The demise of trams occurred rapidly between 1949 and 1961, to be largely replaced by government operated diesel motor buses. There is no doubt that trams could have survived on particular routes that suited their characteristics. The intervention of the Second World War had seen enormous patronage of the tram system. In 1944/45 it carried over 404.6 million passengers but only essential maintenance was being carried out. After the War, the projected capital cost of the major refurbishment that the system needed, combined with intense lobbying by parties eager to replace trams with buses, led to its total abandonment. 100 years after the first tram had run, the last line closed.

The closures were executed with speed and uncharacteristic efficiency. The North Shore s tram service closed in June 1958. The last Pitt St. and Castlereagh St. tram ran in 1957 on a Saturday night at 1 am. Within hours of the tram's run the overhead wires were being pulled down and on the following morning, a Sunday, the tracks were paved over, ensuring there would be no return of the trams even if the buses which replaced them should prove inadequate. The buses were adequate even though they began running at a loss from the first day. Within a few years, the City Council began expressing its regret over its decision to replace trams with buses but all attempts to bring them back failed until the 1990s when a light rail service was re-introduced onto the streets of Sydney with a service from Central station to Darling Harbour. It was later extended to Lilyfield with plans now on the drawing board for further expansion.

Remnants of Sydney's tram system

North Shore tram Service: What looks like a freeway on-ramp at the end of Blue Street, North Sydney, which goes nowhere and is today used as a car parking station, once was linked by an overhead bridge to the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge and carried the tram lines that linked Wynyard station with the North Sydney tram station. Located at Milsons Point to the east of the harbour bridge approaches on Olympic Drive is a car park. It was created as a turning circle for trams at the Milsons Point tram terminus above the ferry wharf located nearby.

One of the few surviving buildings from the north shore tramway system is a tram shelter located in Parriwi Road, Mosman. This simple structure was built when the tram service was extended from Spit Junction to the Spit in 1900, by way of a new route excavated on the eastern side of Upper Spit Ridge, Parriwi Road. The tram service ceased in June 1958 and was replaced by a bus service. This waiting shelter has been repaired and partly rebuilt over the years but retains its original form though it is now a bus shelter.

Manly and northern beaches tram service: A rare surviving component of the Manly to Narrabeen tramline is a tram shelter located on Pittwater Road near Berry Reserve carpark, Narrabeen. Constructed as a tram terminus, it is a single storey timber framed structure with weatherboards on 3 side and brick toilets added at the rear. After the line s closure in 1939, the structure has been used as a bus shelter. Another remnant of the tramway system exists in Balmoral in the form of an abandoned tramway cutting, though no fixtures remain and the lines are overgrown. A curved section of tramway ran through the cutting in the escarpment leading from Balmoral Beach up to Middle Head Road via Beaconsfield and Gordon Streets, making the steep descent from Mosman Junction possible. Opened on 29th May 1922 and abandoned with the closure of the whole tramway network, the line was a branch of the service to Georges Heights along Middle Head Road. The latter line was closed from its junction with the Balmoral line in October 1925. Remnants of a tram terminus and the wharf for the tram punt for the Spit Bridge tram service are located in Avona Crescent, Seaforth. The site also includes the remains of a vehicular ferry ramp.

Abandoned tramway cutting, Balmoral

Sydney tram service: A cutting now occupied by Gap Parade at Watsons Bay was created to carry the tramline in a loop at the service s terminus. Sections of exposed tracks can be seen in the roadway of O Dea Avenue in Waterloo and the Great North Road, Abbotsford. A tramway Station/waiting shed, now used by buses, also remains on the Great North Road, Abbotsford.

Parramatta River Steamers and Tramway Company tramway service: The former tram alignment in the centre of the road is now used as car and truck parking bays. In 1881 a special Act was passed to allow the development of this privately owned tramway between the Duck River Wharf and Parramatta. The tramway was built by Charles Jeanneret, owner of the Parramatta River Steamers and Tramway Company to provide a direct link between Sydney and Parramatta via the waterway. Opened in 1884, it operated 8 daily services to Parramatta. By 1895 this had been reduced to 6 services and in 1928 the service closed after regular passenger ferries ceased to operate on the upper reaches of the river. A wide street alignment to allow for trams and tracks along the eastern end of the road in Grand Avenue, Rosehill are the only remaining evidence of a privatelty operated tram service which once operated here.


Before World War II, flying boats had handled most of the world's air passenger traffic. They were expected to continue their growth, development and dominance of air passenger transport after the war, however this did not happen as the military on both sides made major advancements in the design and performance of land-based military aircraft during the war years. This new technology was incorporated into commercial aircraft design when peace came, resulting in a new breed of land-based aircraft being purchased by the world s airlines which were larger, faster and more economical than the flying boats. Within a decade, flying boat production had ground to a halt and land-based aircraft began bringing air travel within the reach of everyday people. To prepare for the larger aircraft heading their way and the increased number of air travellers they would bring, the Dept. of Civil Aviation persuaded the Federal Government to upgrade all of Australia s major airports.

In 1947 more land at Mascot was purchased to allow for the extension of the east-west runway to a length of 1,480m. Up until that time, Cooks River ran around the airport on its eastern and southern sides, entering Botany Bay in the vicinity of where the General Holmes Drive tunnel would be built in 1963. Swampy ground alongside Cooks River had been a hazard for aircraft using the north-south runway for some time, with numerous planes becoming bogged after overshooting the runway. Levies had been built to avoid flooding of this area, particularly during high tides. Part of the upgrading works commenced in 1943 included the reclamation of the swamps and the diversion of Cooks River to its present course. The Botany goods railway line was re-routed around the airport's northern perimeter as it passed through newly acquired airport property. Funds were set aside for the construction of a flying boat base as part of the airport upgrade. The site of the old water works near Lord s Mill Pond was set aside for this purpose, but the plan was put permanently on hold as it became evident that the days of international travel by flying boat were over.

Air travel between Australia and Europe entered a new phase with the introduction of the Lockheed Constellation on the Kangaroo Run. Constellations were much faster, bigger and more economical than any flying boat, and paved the way for jet age. The first Constellation, which had been introduced by both Qantas and B.O.A.C. onto the London-Sydney route, landed at Mascot in December 1947. To make way for the increasing amount of international air traffic, all light traffic had been transferred from Mascot to Bankstown Airport in Sydney s west by 1949. Established during the war and used as by the US Air Force as its wartime in the Southern Pacific, Bankstown Airport was relinquished the RAAF in 1948 in preparation for its new role. The RAAF transferred its Bankstown operations to Windsor.

At a time when the Boeing 707 jet airliner began replacing the Constellation as the most used aircraft on the Kangaroo Run, more extensions commenced at Mascot in 1963 as part of a five year improvement plan which saw the north-south runway extended from 1,700m to 2,500m to accommodate jet aircraft which required longer runways. The extension of the runway necessitated the construction of a 1km peninsular into Botany Bay and a tunnel to take General Holmes Drive under the runway as well as the reconstruction of the main outfall sewer line on the airport s eastern boundary. These extensions occurred simultaneously with the construction of a new airport for Melbourne at Tullamarine.

With increasing air traffic, and the expectation of even more with the advent of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney Airport was extended in the 1990s with two more runways and the construction of major extensions to its terminals, car parks and access roads.


Pyrmont Redevelopment

Pyrmont, on the western fringe of Sydney's CBD, is today the focus of Australia's largest urban renewal programme. The project is one of a number set in motion around the shores of the waterways of Sydney Harbour that will see many industrial sites to which public access has been denied for many years being handed back to the people.

Those familiar with 1980s Pyrmont would find it hard to believe that this blue-collar area surrounded by derelict industrial waterfronts was once a popular and picturesque picnic spot frequented by the early colonists of Sydney. After being scarred beyond redemption by five decades of intensive quarrying on its shorelines, Pyrmont then suffered the indignity of extensive industrial development which resulted in its degeneration into a barren industrial wasteland when its factories were abandoned during the latter years of the 20th century. Since 1992, the 100-hectare peninsula has been the subject of intensive master planning, large-scale infrastructure provision and property redevelopment that transpormed Pyrmont into a desirable inner city residential suburb.

A major showcase development in the program was Jacksons Landing, a waterfront village located on the shores of Sydney Harbour on the site of the old CSR Sugar Refinery on the north western corner of the Pyrmont peninsula. The 12 hectare site of Jacksons Landing was one of the largest urban redevelopments ever undertaken in Australia. Key features of the development included a choice of housing style, from refurbished warehouses to terrace homes and luxurious waterfront apartments offering 24 hour security. Almost 40% of Jacksons Landing is parklands and landscaped areas which includes 600 metres of foreshore promenade with facilities such as pools, spas, gyms and tennis courts, a Community Clubhouse and a marina.

Above: Elizabeth Macarthur Bay Water Police site before redevelopment. Below: The site today (Pirrama Park)

Elizabeth Macarthur Bay

A foreshore promenade, public open space, a civic square and low-rise apartments are the key features of the redevelopment of the land around Elizabeth Macarthur Bay, Pyrmont. Elizabeth Macarthur Bay was the temporary home of the Water Police, the service's move to Camerons Cove made possible the redevelopment of the bay area. One of the highlights is the 10 metre wide foreshore promenade linking Pyrmont Point Park to Jacksons Landing, which brought the Government another step closer to realising its vision for continuous foreshore access between Wooloomooloo and Blackwattle Bay. An additional 0.4 hectares of public open space (Pirrama Park) and a low-rise residential and commercial development features a civic square. Central to the residential development is a public plaza on the waterfront.

Darling Island Redevelopment

Darling Island has undergone a major redevelopment which =included 109 apartments in 3 buildings. The Darling Island development commenced with the demolition of the northern part of the Darling Island Centre, a former passenger terminal which was a temporary home for Sydney's first casino, after which was used as the Sydney Media Centre during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Stage 2 included the accommodation of over 22,000 square metres of offices to meet growing demand for Pyrmont from the media and communications industries. The adjoining waterfront residential building accommodates over 30 apartments. The nearby Jones Bay wharf underwent similar redevelopment.

Above: Darling Island in 1960. Below: Darling Island today

White Bay Redevelopment

Across the bay from Pyrmont is Glebe Island and White Bay where the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority acquired the former White Bay power station for re-use in another example of urban renewal. The White Bay power station was built by the NSW Railway Commissioners between 1912 and 1917 to provide power for Sydney s expanding tram and electrified railway systems. The complex was extended in the 1920s and then redeveloped in the 1950s when the Electricity Commission of NSW was established to take control of all major power generation sites in the state. Since the 1960s, metropolitan power stations have been gradually replaced by much larger stations closer to coal supply sources, with White Bay amongst the last to be decommissioned. The White Bay station and the Powerhouse Museum are now the only surviving examples of this building type.

In the mid 19th century White Bay and Johnston s Bay flanked the original Glebe Island, where an abattoir was located to serve the Sydney market. By this time some reclamation of land in White Bay had begun, but the high water mark cut across what would 60 years later become the site for the power station. By 1889 the area had been subdivided into residential allotments and small businesses. In that year a ballast dike was built across White Bay and the area behind it progressively filled in. Beatt ie Creek became a stormwater drain and Glebe Island was permanently joined to the peninsula.

Harbour foreshores were considered excellent locations for the siting of power stations as coal could be transported from the Hunter Valley and Illawarra mines by ship. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries facilities were built at Ultimo, Pyrmont, White Bay and Balmain. The Colonial Sugar Refining company (CSR) established its own private power station at Elizabeth Macarthur Bay in Pyrmont, which is now subject to extensive residential re-development. The NSW Railway Commission began work on the White Bay power station in 1912 and it was completed in 1917. The major constructions on the site were done in brick and designed in anindustrial art nouveau style. White Bay provided power for the expanding tram and rail networks that crisscrossed the city. Extensions to the station were executed in the 1920s, which completed the original design in steel and reinforced concrete. In the 1950s the NSW Electricity Commission assumed control of all the state s major power generation facilities and the original boiler house was replaced. The northern section of the boiler house was rebuilt in the existing industrial style and the southern section in modern glass and brick. From the 1960s the contribution of the metropolitan power stations to the state s electricity grid began to diminish and they have now all been replaced by cleaner generating plants closer to coal supplies. The White Bay and Pyrmont stations were the last to be decommissioned in 1983.

White Bay Power Station

The White Bay Power Station is now the subject of a major redevelopment project. Set on nearly 4 hectares of land at the head of White Bay on the south-eastern side of the Balmain peninsula, it comprises a turbine hall equivalent in scale and dimension to the Queen Victoria Building, a boiler house and switching house, as well as a control room and coal loader. The historical plant and artifacts are to be retained to show the entire process of power generation from the loading of the coal to the switching room and distribution. Other developments for the site are presently on the brawing board.

Above: BP terminal, Waverton, 1970. Below: The site today

Balls Head and Waverton Peninsula redevelopment

The land around Waverton was originally developed by grantees and business partners Alexander Berry and Edward Wollstonecraft, in the early 1800s. Firstly, they constructed a stone wharf, then a stone warehouse, and workers' cottages and huts. Berry's overseer, W G Mathews, lived in the cottage on the site which consisted of only one room and a loft. Berry then leased the parcel of land leading to Balls Head for a short time as a coaling depot to shipping companies, P & O and General Steam Screw Ship Company, after which it was used for ship repairs, storage of ballast and even a distillery which operated out of a stone storehouse between 1872 and the 1880s and had connections to the Rag and Famish Hotel in the heart of North Sydney. In the late 1870s a section was leased as a depot to the NSW Torpedo Corps which was instrumental in the defence of Sydney Harbour in the period. The Corps relocated to Middle Head in the late 1880s though that part of Berrys Bay was to be known as Torpedo Bay well into the 1920s.

The Anglo Persian Oil Company's occupation of what became known as the BP site dates from 1908 but it wasn't until 1923 that their first tank was installed. The tanks grew in number to 31 by the late 1960s and were a prominent feature of this part of the Harbour. The substantial stone store erected by Berry and Wollstonecraft was demolished to open the way for additional fuel storage tanks in the mid 1930s. The bund wall left standing contains the stones of the storehouse and is listed by the North Sydney Council as having 'high' heritage significance. In the early 1950s additional tanks for storage were added in Unnecessary Road (a planned extension of Rose Street which is today Larkin Street) and adjacent properties purchased to provide accommodation for the staff.

The Commonwealth Oil Refineries took over the Anglo Persian Oil Company (now BP) and many locals still recall the large letters of COR in lights on top of the cliff face. The cliff face in the past was known as 'Gibralter' and this is evidenced in historical maps of the area and relates to the character of the cliff face. The last tanks were dismantled in the mid 1990s. The outline of the tanks can still be seen, giving an impression of their size and bulk. The whole site has undergone a remediation process.

The Balls Head Coal Loader and the former BP bunkering site are both included in the Waverton Peninsula Conservation Management Plan as part of a larger Masterplan for the revitalisation and reuse of the former industrial sites of the Waverton peninsula when they are officially handed over from State Properties Group and BP to North Sydney Council. The recommendations of the Masterplan included creating continuous parkland through the ex-industrial sites connecting Waverton Park with Balls Head Reserve, extending and protecting the existing tracts of urban bushland, and maximising public access to the foreshore.


Cahill Expressway, Circular Quay, under construction

The Cahill Expressway - completed 1957

Sydney's first freeway - the Cahill Expressway - is that part of the southern approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge which directs traffic off and onto the bridge to and from the eastern sector of the CBD via a raised roadway on the top deck of a two level steel structure across the front of Circular Quay. The twin lines of the City Circle railway and Circular Quay station occupy the middle level of the structure, the Circular Quay ferry terminals and shops are located on the ground floor level. Like much of what was built around the world in the 1950s, it is functional though rather ugly and in a more environmentally and aesthetically conscious era would never have been allowed to be built. In recent years, there has been a groundswell of support for its removal as it is seen by many as an eyesore and an unnecessary barrier between the city centre and the harbour foreshore. During the run-up to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the Federal Government offered to go halves in the cost of removing it and sinking the railway, but the NSW State Government said it could not make available the funds to finance its share, citing more important projects to spend public money on. At the time of these negotiations, the harbour tunnel was being built and it was hoped by many that the Expressway would become unnecessary, and could therefore be pulled down, but this did not happen. The constant increase in north-south traffic using the bridge and tunnel has seen Expressway traffic on the increase again after an initial drop when the tunnel first came into use.

F6 - Southern Freeway - opened 1972 to 1975

The Southern Freeway connects the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Wollongong and the Shoalhaven region, following the Pacific Highway, the road it replaced when first opened in 1972 (the northern section was opened in 1975). The freeway passes through some spectacular country prior to its entry into the Bulli Pass where it makes a rapid decent from the top of the Illawarra Escarpment, to the coastal plain below. In the pass section it is often shrouded by fog which can lead to accidents. The Southern Freeway was a tollway until the mid 1990s when the toll booths were removed.

M4 - Western Motorway - opened 1972 to 1986

One of the busiest roads in Australia, its main function being to connect the fast-growing greater west with Sydney s inner west. Stopping 12km short of downtown Sydney, it follows a pattern set by other motorways in Sydney of bringing traffic so far but not all the way, leaving a bottleneck where its traffic flows into the suburban road system. The first section, from Blacktown and Penrith, was opened in 1792, and is still very much a pleasant drive through the country in spite of the approach of suburbia on both sides. The Mays Hill to Strathfield section was opened progressively after 1983 and is one of only two sections of Sydney's freeway system to travel Los Angeles style on a concrete deck above ground (the other is at Darling Harbour). The M4 s newest section, between Silverwater and Strathfield, is a tollway.

Recently widening along 90% of its length from four lanes to six lanes took nearly four years to complete, double the promised time. A 7km long tunnel has been proposed to take traffic from the freeway's current beginning in Strathfield to Lilyfield to the east where it would meet up with the short freeway-standard road leading to the Glebe Island Bridge. No decision has been made as to if or when this might be built.

South Westesrn Motorway, Casula

M5 - South Westesrn Motorway - opened 1975 to 2001

The first section of the South Western Motorway was constructed in 1974, between the Camden Valley Way and Narellan Road, serving Sydney's growing South West, Macarthur districts and then on as the Hume Highway to the Southern Highlands, Canberra and ultimately Melbourne. The section between the Hume Highway at Casula and the Heathcote Road at Moorebank was completed in 1984 and contains the only traffic light on the motorway, which causes a major disruption to the traffic flow.
The next section to be constructed, between the Hume Highway at Casula and Heathcote Road at Moorebank, was opened in 1984. For 16 years it took traffic as far as Beverly Hills where it ended in a bottleneck. The final section, between King Georges Road and General Holmes Drive at the Airport, incorporates a tunnel under the Wolli Creek valley. It was opened in December 2001.

Warringah Freeway under construction

Warringah Freeway - opened 1978 and 1992

This freeway forms part of the M1 and the Sydney Orbital Network to provide access to most of the suburbs in Sydney and is also a major route to the north, south, east and west of the metropolis. Planning began in 1951. As its name suggests, the road was envisioned as the first stage of a freeway system for Sydney's Manly/Warringah area. An early alignment had the freeway crossing into the Manly Warringah area via Castlecrag, then later via Castle Cove. The freeway was never extended in this direction due to opposition by the residents of Castlecrag. A large amount of residential and commercial property, half a golf course, and a cemetery were resumed by the government to build this freeway. The first stage of the road, opened on 18th June 1968, takes traffic off the Harbour Bridge to the suburbs of the North Shore without having to negotiate the local traffic of North Sydney. The original north termination point of the freeway was Chandos Street, Cammeray, with a small extension being added to Willoughby road in 1978. The Chandos Street ramps were moved to Brook St at this time. Three years after the Warringah Freeway was completed as far as Willoughby, the freeway was extended as far as Lane Cove, the new section being called the Gore Hill freeway. As a result, the suburb of Narremburn was basically cut in half.

It was not until 1992 when the Gore Hill Freeway was added to connect the Warringah Freeway to the Pacific Highway at Lane Cove, that the road officially became part of Australia's Highway 1. Until then, it had been a short freeway that terminated curiously in the middle of the suburbs, despite being Sydney's most prominent freeway, the "F1", with 16 lanes connecting to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The original blueprint for the Warringah Freeway allowed for it to be built in six stages. Only Stage 1 (Warrangah Freeway to Willoughybgy Road) and Stage 6 (Gore Hill Freeway) were completed. Stage 2 (Northbridge to Castlecrag and Wakehurst Parkway link), Stage 3 (Bridge over Middle harbour between east Castlecrag and Seaforth) and Stage 4 (Seaforth to Balgowlah spur link) were never bulit due to lobbying by local resident groups. Stage 6 (Upgrade of Wakehurst Parkway to freeway conditions to Warringah Road. Spur link to Manly Vale) was planned for completion in 1977 but was only partially completed (Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation) in 1985.
Western Distributor under construction, Darling Harbour

Western Distributor - opened 1981

A system of on and off ramps for Harbour Bridge traffic heading to and from Sydney's inner western suburbs, designed to remove through traffic from city streets and replace Pyrmont Bridge which was closed to vehicular traffic on the opening of the Distributor. The elevated roadways of the Western Distributor pass through and over the Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay precincts, ending in Sydney's south near Chinatown and Haymarket and west towards Glebe via Pyrmont. Plans are to build a tunnel linking the Western Distributor to the M4 Motorway which stops rather abruptly at Strathfield some 7 km away.

F3 - Sydney to Newcastle Freeway - completed 1993

A 128km section of freeway which weaves a broad path through cuttings and across the waters of the Hawkesbury, linking Hornsby with Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and the Central Coast. When the first 7 km section section of dual carriageway north from the Hawkesbury River was opened in the mid-1960s, it cut the journey in half, replacing the twisting, narrow Pacific Highway. By the time the last section was completed in December 1993, traffic had increased enormously, yet the freeway still manages to handle the pressure, except at busy times like the beginning and end of long weekends when traffic has been known to come to a standstill. Plans to link the Hornsby end to the M2 Hills Motorway have been considered, but the right-of-way acquisition costs would be prohibitive.

M2 - The Hills Motorway - opened May 1997

The Hills Motorway is Sydney's newest freeway and covers a distance of 21km from Epping and Pittwater Road, North Ryde to Abbot and Old Windsor Road, Baulkham Hills. It links the north-western corridor and hills district with the city centre via the Gore Hill Expressway, however a bottleneck exists in a 3 km section of Lane Cove s streets which traffic must pass through to get from the end of one to the beginning of the other. Like most freeways in Sydney, the M2 had a rather controversial start as it passes perilously close to the Lane Cove National Park, as well as many forest reserves in the north-western suburbs. It s builders, The Hills Motorway Group, have a 35 year concession from the NSW Government to the use of the land corridor on which the M2 is built. Construction of the Motorway was funded by the "User Pays" system and hence the investors recover their investment through the payment of Tolls. Costing $650 million to build, it has a network of 42 emergency phones, some of which are operated by solar power.

Eastern Distributor tunnel entrance

The Eastern Distributor - opened 1999

The 1.7km Eastern Distributor was built to ease the bottlenecks caused in Sydney s inner eastern suburbs as a result of the through traffic heading south from the Harbour Tunnel and Cahill Expressway weaving its way through the narrow streets of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills and on to Southern Cross Drive. It is comprised of a series of roads and tunnels, part of which were constructed in a double deck configuration with the southbound lanes below the northbound lanes. The roadway, in spite of it having toll booths which slow traffic down, moves north-south traffic efficiently and has cut the duration of a north shore to Sydney Airport journey in half.


In 1993, a new system of arterial route numbering in the Sydney metropolitan area was introduced called Metroads. Called Metroads, they replaced National Routes and Highways and many State Routes throughout the Sydney region. Sydney presently has nine Metroads numbered from 1 to 10 (Metroad 8 has been reserved for future use by the Western Sydney Orbital freeway). Others will no doubt be added as they join the system.

Princes Highway, Kogarah

Metroad One: Wahroonga to Waterfall
Length: 68km. Replaced National Route 1
Includes Princes Highway, Acacia Road, President Avenue, The Grand Parade, General Holmes Drive, Southern Cross Drive, Eastern Distributor, Cahill Expressway, Sydney Harbour Tunnel, Warringah Freeway, Gore Hill Freeway, Pacific Highway.

Metroad Two: Milsons Point to Windsor
Length: 60km. Replaced National Route 1, State Route 28 (most), State Route 30 (most), and multiplexed with part of State Route 40 Includes Warringah Expressway, Gore Hill Freeway, Longueville Road, Epping Road, Hills Motorway (M2 Motorway), Old Windsor Road, Windsor Road.

Metroad Three: Blakehurst to Mona Vale
Length: 53km. Replaced State Route 33 in its entirety. Includes King Georges Road, Wiley Avenue, Roberts Road, Centenary Drive, Homebush Bay Drive, Concord Road, Church Street, Devlin Street, Lane Cove Road, Ryde Road, Mona Vale Road.

Metroad Four: Sydney to Lapstone
Length: 58km. Replaced National Route 32
NAMES: Western Distributor, Anzac Bridge, City West Link Road, Dobroyd Parade, Wattle Street, Parramatta Road, Western Motorway (M4 Motorway).

Metroad Five: Sydney to Campbelltown
Length: 58km. Replaced National Highway 31, National Route 31
Includes Broadway, Parramatta Road, Liverpool Road, Hume Highway, Roberts Road, Wiley Avenue, King Georges Road, South-Western Motorway (M5 Motorway).

Metroad Six: Heathcote to Carlingford
Length: 40km. Replaced State Route 45 in its entirety, former southern extremity of Metroad 7
NAMES: Heathcote Road, New Illawarra Road, Old Illawarra Road, Alfords Point Road, Davies Road, Fairford Road, Stacey Street, Rookwood Road, Joseph Street, Olympic Drive, Boorea Street, St. Hilliers Road, Silverwater Road, Stewart Street, Marsden Road.

Metroad Seven: Casula to Wahroonga
Length: 42km. Replaced State Route 77 in its entirety
NAMES: Hume Highway, Cumberland Highway (Orange Grove Road, Joseph Street, Cambridge Street, New Cambridge Street, Palmerston Road, Smithfield Road, Warren Road, Betts Road, Jersey Road, Emert Street, Freame Street, Hart Drive, Old Windsor Road, Briens Road, James Ruse Drive, Pennant Hills Road).

Metroad Nine: Campbelltown to Windsor
Length: 61km. Replaced State Route 69
Includes Narellan Road, Camden Valley Way, The Northern Road, Parker Street, Richmond Road, George Street, Macquarie Street.

Metroad Ten: Artarmon to Mona Vale
Length: 29km (18 miles). Replaced State Route 14
Includes Pacific Highway, Falcon Street, Military Road, Spit Road, Manly Road, Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation, Condamine Street, Pittwater Road.



MLC Building, North Sydney

The end of World War II brought a clean sweep in many aspects of life, not the least in architecture. Contemporary architectural styles were treated as part and parcel of the new beginning. Just as New York's Empire State Building was looked upon as the post-World War architectural icon for the world to follow, the now destroyed United Nations twin towers, two rectangular prisms with walls of glass, became the look to follow after World War II. Built around a steel and reinforced concrete frame onto which floors and walls were attached, the International style was found to be highly functional, allowing the flexibility of open planning, as well as being lightweight and inexpensive compared to older building styles.

The only drawback was that the walls of glass were defenceless against the Australian sun, and many an air conditioning system was taxed to the limit trying to cope with the heat. Walls of curtains and/or louvres became a necessary extra until the introduction of reflective glass in the 1990s.
The multi-storeyed office building of the 1950s and 1960s is the most threatened species among Australia's historic building stock today. Modernism itself was not the easiest style to love, and while the Baby Boomer generation see it as a style representing their era, to the next generation modernist architecture is dated, unloved and ready for replacement, as more often than not it stands on prime real estate.

Box-like in shape, sleek, uninterrupted surfaces, limited exterior decoration, interior decoration mainly landscaping of indoor plants. Examples:
MLC Building, Miller Street, North Sydney (1955; Bates, Smart & McCutcheon)
Blues Point Tower, Blues Point (1962; Harry Seidler and Associates)
Qantas House, Chifley Square, Sydney (1957; Rudder, Littlemore and Rudder)
Liner House, Bridge Street, Sydney (1960; Bunning & Madden)
Lend Lease House, Macquarie Street, Sydney (1961; Harry Seidler)
AMP Building, Circular Quay, Sydney (1962; Peddle, Thorpe & Walker)
Water Board Building, Pitt Street, Sydney (1963; McConnel, Smith & Johnson)
Australia Square, Cnr Bond & George Streets, Sydney (1967; Harry Seidler & Assoc)
Leighton Building, Pacific Highway, St Leonards (1985; Devine, Erby, Mazlin Australia)
Grosvenor Place, George Street, Sydney (1985; Harry Seidler & Assoc.)


Late 20th Century International

Qantas House, Chifley Square, Sydney

Late 20th Century International was styled on the principles set down in the 1950s, but with greater creativity in design. There was a move away from the matchbox  shape with the introduction of curved and angular walls. Wall to ceiling windows became less common, replaced by windows set in horizontal or vertical strips. Characteristics:
Essential cubic but with contrasting non-rectangular shapes, cantilevered forms, overhangs and other external sun control devices integrated into the design.


St Kevin's Catholic Church, Dee Why

A style pioneered by US architect Frank Lloyd Wright which saw buildings blending into their environment and becoming part of it. Illustrated in both commercial and domestic applications, Australia's most famous example is the new Parliament House in Canberra.
Stark, complex and angular, appearing to grow from the site and blended into it with as little disturbance as possible to the natural setting.
St Kevin's Church, 50 Oakes Avenue, Dee Why (1962; Gibbons & Gibbons)
David Moore house, Lobster Bay, NSW (1973; Ian McKay)
40a Upper Cliff Road, Northwood (1978; Furio Valich)
The wave house, Scotland Island (1979; Morrice Shaw)


Masonic Centre, Sydney

A radical departure from anything seen before, Brutalist architecture is visually uncompromising, stark and over-scaled, an architectural expression of the 1960s term 'let it all hang out'.
Chunky style, exposed reinforced concrete surfaces, sharp diagonal lines and slopes.
Seidler House, Kalang Avenue, Killara (1967; Harry Seidler)
Masonic Centre, Cnr Castlereagh & Goulburn Streets, Sydney (1975; Joseland Gilling Co.)
Car park, Cooper Wharf Road, Wooloomooloo (1980; John Andrews international Pty Ltd)


Sydney Football Stadium

Employed in buildings designed to span great distances or enclose huge light-filled places. The metallic structural skeleton remains exposed with the walls, windows and other additions attached to the frames. Melbourne s Sidney Myer Music Bowl (1958), an all-steel tent-like stadium, was the prototype in Australia.
Large scale, sculptural, often appears to be floating above the site to dramatic effects.
Sydney Football Stadium, Moore Park (1986; Philip Cox, Richardson, Taylor & Assoc.)
PE Centre, Pymble Ladies Collage, Avon Road, Pymble (1984; Devine, Erby, Mazlin Australia Pty Ltd)

Late Modern

Capita Centre

Extension of the various expressions of modern architecture which emerged in the first half of the 20th century, particularly the international style, but with the addition of elements in design intended to capture the image of the electronic age.
Sleek, glossy buildings often with sheer mirror facades, pyramidal and cylindrical shapes common.
263-273 Clarence Street, Sydney (1976; Mario Arnaboldi)
Clemenger Building, Pacific Highway, Gore Hill (1985; Bodham-Whetam Dorta & Mitchell)
Capita Centre, Castlereagh Street, Sydney (1990; Harry Seidler & assoc.)


Chifley Tower

A style in which design keys from a variety ofmodern styles are incorporated so as to make the building's character reflect the environment into which it is being placed.
Contemporary design but incorporating references to details of other styles such as classical colonnades, art deco motifs.
Coopers & Lybrand Building, George Street, Sydney (1987; Rice, Dabney)
Federation Pavilion, Centennial Park (1988; Alexander Tzannes)
Chifley Tower, Phillip Street, Sydney (1993; Kohn Pederson Fox [USA] and Travis Partners)
Governor Phillip Tower, Cnr Phillip & Bridge Street, Sydney (1995; Richard Johnson)


Sydney Opera House under construction, 1969

1959-73 - Sydney Opera House

Bennelong Point, Sydney
In 1947, English composer and Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Eugune Goossens, himself a decendant of explorer James Cook, pursuaded the government of the day that Sydney should have its own opera theatre and that Bennelong Point was the ideal location for such a building. On 13th September, 1955, the Premier of New South Wales, J.J. Cahill, announced an international competition which invited the world s leading architects to design an Opera House for Sydney. The prize for the winning entry was £5,000. 233 entries were received, and the winner, announced on 29th January 1957, was 38-year old Danish architect Jorn Utson. Second prize was won by an American group and an English company gained third place.

Utzon hailed from the small village of Hellebaek on Denmark's northern sea coast. His fascination with a nearby castle as a boy gave birth to his interest in architecture. Later in life he travelled widely and was impressed by the plint formation of the ancient Mayan temples of Mexico which strongly influenced his inclusion of a giant podium in his prize-winning opera house design The main feature of Utson's design, however, was a series of shell-shaped roof vaults which suggested the sails of yachts in silhouette.

Selecting the design was one thing, turning its reality was another. What Utzon had submitted was only a set of sketches, preliminary plans and elevations and it was only after the design had been accepted that it became known that Utzon had not yet taken his idea beyond the preliminary concept stage. At first, no one questioned the feasibility of the project, but so complex became the task of creating the huge roof vaults, many in architectural cicles began to believe the design to be unbuildable. 3,000 hours of computer time were put into the shells and roof calculations alone which took eight years to finish, five years more than the Government had allowed for the completion of the whole project. Technological barriers had to be broken, adding greatly to the cost and time required to finish the project. Construction was planned in three sections - the building of the podium; the roof shells; finishing, equipment and furnishing. Preliminary construction work began in May 1958.

A series of public lotteries were launched to raise the money to build the Opera House. Tickets were sold at a cost of £3 each, each lottery of 100,000 tickets having a major prize of £200,000. The first lottery was drawn on 10th January 1958. In a tragic turn of events, the son of one of the winners, 8-year old Graeme Thorne, was kidnapped, held to ransom then murdered after the ransom was paid. A change of Government in May 1965 saw Robert (later sir) Askin take over as the new Premier of NSW and David Hughes as minister for Public Works, under whose portfolio the building of the Opera House came. Alarmed that the estimated cost of the poject had risen by 600% to £25 million, Hughes asked Utzon for a likely completion date and final cost. Utzon would not give him an answer, saying that much of the work being carried out was experimental. Hughes said that the time for experimentation was over and insisted that the plans be modified so that conventional building methods could be used. Utzon's refusal led to an impasse which resulted in him leaving the project in February 1966. He then left Sydney, never to return again to see the structure in its completed glory.

Hughes appointed a new team of architects to complete the project. They prepared a comprehensive review of the project, detailing work done, work yet to be completed and a plan for its completion. The plan included a drastic revision of Utzon s plan for the interior, a fundenmental change being the scrapping of a combined Concert Hall and Opera Theatre. The revised plan, presented to and approved by the Government in 1968, revised the final cost at $85 million (£41.5 million in Imperial currency which was changede to Decimal in 1966) and set the end of 1972 as the targetted completion date. The last segment of the last rib of the roof was positioned in January 1967, ending the completion of the second section.

The peak of construction was reached in mid-1972 with more than 1,200 workers engaged on the site with at least that number again involved in the production off the site. Materials were brought in from around the world - exterior tiles from Sweden; interior tiles from Austria and Japan; lighting and curtains from Germany; carpets from New South Wales and Victoria; heat pumps from USA; techynical advice from Philips in Holland and General Electric in Britain. After completion, the concert hall was tested for accoustics with a performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on 17th December 1972. The installation of the Concert Hall's great organ, the largest of its kind in the world with 11,000 pipes, was not completed until 1976.

Officially opened on 20th October 1973 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Sydney Opera House was completed 16 years of planning and construction began at a final cost of $102 million, some $95 million above the original estimate. Towering 66 metres above its 20 metre high podium, the peak of the highest shell is 9 metres higher than the roadway of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and is the height of a 22 storey office building.

1965-67 - AMP Sydney Cove Building

Cnr Alfred & Phillip Streets, Sydney
Following approaches to the Sydney City Council over a five year period by the AMP Society to construct a building which broke the existing height limit of its day, vigorous public debate took place before a Bill was passed in the NSW Parliament changing the limit, thus allowing this project to proceed. When opened, its height was twice that of any other building in the city including the AWA Building if the tower is not calculated as part of the building's height.

Built as the head office of a leading Australian owned and operated insurance company, the building broke new ground not only with its height but also in that it did not occupy the whole of its site. Only 55% of the site was occupied by the office building, the rest was to be part of the public space around Circular Quay, achieved by the removal vehicular traffic from Alfred Street. For a time, this occurred, but the re-introduction of taxis and buses has turned the forecourt of the AMP Building into wasted space as it is separated from the rest of the Circular Quay open space by a busy roadway. A rooftop lookout proved a popular tourist attraction until a similar lookout on the higher Australia Square building opened five years later precipitated its closure.

Following the new curtain wall-shaped office tower designs of New York architect Gordon Bunshaft, it broke new ground not only in its shape but also in being one of the first office buildings in Australia to feature wall to ceiling windows. The reflection from Circular Quay on the windows caused major air conditioning problems.

1965-67 - Australia Square

Cnr George, Pitt & Bond Streets, Sydney
Designed by Harry Seidler, an architect whose designs have had a major impact on the Sydney city skyline, for Lend Lease Corporation, a major developer of commercial sites in Sydney. When opened the 183 metre high structure laid claim to being the world's tallest lightweight concrete office building. Created by the amalgamation of 30 small sites, its area includes a public plaza surrounding the tower, which incorporates office space, retail shops, car parking and a revolving restaurant on the highest public access level. Contrary to trends of the day, the building was circular and not rectangular, and did not feature a podium, but was a free standing design set back from the street front and surrounded by ground floor public space.

When the building was opened, the lookout and restaurant on the 47th and 48th floors gave uninterrupted harbour views until 1976 when the new AMP tower (198m) in Bridge Street became the first of a number of buildings constructed between it and the harbour. The lookout is now closed, though The Summit Restaurant is still going strong. The view of Circular Quay and the harbour from Australia s first roofto p revolving restaurant is still spectacular, but sadly no longer uninterrupted.

1970-1981 - Sydney Tower

Market Street, Sydney
Standing at 305 meters, Sydney Tower is the tallest man made structure in Australia. The turret contains two revolving restaurants and a coffee lounge/function room on levels one to three, an Observation Deck is situated on level four, and two telecommunications and three main plant levels above. The Centrepoint development (now operated by Westfield) was conceived in 1968 and comprises over 140 shops, extensive commercial office space, overhead and underground pedestrian promenades and the high-rise tourist and telecommunications tower. 56 cables stabilise the Tower and the strands of these cables, if laid end to end, would stretch from Sydney to Alice Springs or from Sydney to New Zealand. The turret is serviced by three high-speed double-decker lifts having a car capacity of 14 persons or 452 kilograms and capable of moving 2,000 persons per hour.
Construction of the Centrepoint complex began in late 1970 and the first 52 shops opened in 1972. The office block was completed in 1974 and the Tower, the final stage of the complex, was finished in August 1981. The building process took 14 years. Building of the first stage of the tower was completed in October 1977. Seven stories of the turret were jacked 115 metres above Pitt Street and the first stage of the 56 cables was attached to an intermediate anchorage ring. This in itself was a painstaking task, with each cable weighing 7 tonnes! But this was only the first stage of an exacting engineering feat that resulted in a nine-storey building more than a thousand feet in the sky.
The shaft supporting the turret is made up of 46 barrel units, each weighing 27 tonnes. These were brought on to the site in seven pieces and welded together. Each unit was completed with lift rails, stair well and hydrologic risers before hoisting. The shaft also contains two sets of fire stairs, fire, electrical and plumbing ducts in one half and three lift shafts in the remainder.

1985-88 - Sydney Football Stadium

Moore Park
Elliptical design by Philip Cox of Cox, Richardson, Taylor and Partners, which utilised advanced steel engineering systems. The site on Sydney's urban edge and adjacent to Sydney's other amphitheater buildings provided an architectural challenge. As part of the brief, it was determined that a roof which shelters 60% of the 40 000 spectators was needed and maintains sightlines to the field. Flood lighting had to be incorporated for evening matches. Inspiration from the Colosseum and surrounding amphitheater buildings gave rise to its circular plan. Harmonizing with the low-scale residential areas to the north and providing maximum seating at the halfway line created an undulating ribbon-like roof shelter, heightened by the use of two different roof structures.

1985-89 - State Bank Centre

52 Martin Place, Sydney. Architect: Peddle Thorp and Walker Architects. Cost: $ 92, 500, 000
Created to provide Head Office accommodation for the State Bank of NSW, it includes an office tower and supporting facilities including shops and parking. Redevelopment of the site involved the demolition of an Art deco building ( the Rural Bank headquarters). Typical of contemporary Sydney office towers, the lowest level of the building provides food and retail facilities in an arcade that links to Martin Place rail station. The ten levels of podium which incorporate the banking chamber are occupied by the bank. This space over-looks the rectangular-shaped atrium. A sports complex high over this banking chamber is linked back to the tower by twin bridges. This sports complex, which includes squash courts, a gymnasium and a swimming pool, is suspended from a rectangular portal truss that is located at level three and spans the site width of 36m. Hanging steel mullions of 18m long were used to support the glazed facade to Martin Place and the bridges that join the atrium space to the garden feature. On the sides, 23m long mullions were suspended to support the glazing.

1988-92 - Grosvenor Place

225 George Street (cnr Harrington Street), Sydney
Built at a cost of $350 million, Grosvenor Place was designed by Harry Seidler, a highly respected Sydney based architect with a deeply held commitment to modern architecture. Grosvenor Place, along with other Seidler projects such as Australia Square (1967), MLC Centre (1975) and the Blues Point apartment tower have had a major impact on the Sydney landscape.

Being on the doorway  between Sydney and The Rocks, the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority exercised considerable control over the design of Grosvenor Place. It restricted the height to 176m above sea level so that it formed part of a stepping envelope between the Qantas building and the Regent Hotel, and required the site to be a pedestrian gateway to The Rocks; a diagonal walkway was incorporated into the design to allow through foot traffic from George to Harrington Street. With 44 above-ground levels, a three storey lobby and 4 basement levels, the floor plan consists of two crescents, offset but with a common axis on each side of a sharp ended elliptical service core. The shape was chosen as it offers the full sweep of the best views and open space outlook and offered opportunities for a long span, column free system of construction.

1989-994 - Governor Phillip Tower

Phillip Street, Sydney. Cost: $300 million
Rectangular in shape with a central core, the building has 64 levels with 10 basement levels for parking and plant facilities and a typical floor area of 1872 sq m (52m x 36m), it is a typical office block skyscraper of recent years. Governor Phillip Tower is located within the first Government House site which is in the heart of Sydney's CBD and is bounded by Bridge, Phillip, Bent and Young streets. The site contains heritage listed terrace housing along both Young and Phillip streets as well as the important remnants of the footings of both the original, and many extensions to, the first Government House.
The brief called for a state of the art quality high-rise office building, in terms of both the design and construction, with maximum site development, while retaining the terrace housing and the remnants of the Government House footings undisturbed. To satisfy the brief from a planning point of view, the east face of the tower was cantilevered some eight metres out from the historic terrace houses, 40 metres below.

1996-99 - Telstra Stadium

Olympic Park, Homebush Bay
Designed by Bligh Voller Nied with the London-based Lobb Partnership
With a capacity to seat 110,000, the Sydney Olympic Stadium (now named Telstra Stadium) is the largest facility ever built for an Olympic Games. It is a practical design, tailored for the Australian climate. The roof is translucent, allowing extensive natural lighting and also reduces glare and shadow on the field, a requirement for daytime TV broadcasts. The slope of the roof provides sun and rain protection without creating the claustrophobic feel of a fully enclosed dome. Moreover, the sloping roof optimizes the acoustics.

1998 - 400 George Street, Sydney

Well crafted Neoclassical design. The tower's form is derived from one of the city s planning tenets: preservation of sunlight in certain public spaces (Pitt Street Mall in this case). A graceful, curving and overtly public arcade is incised into the site behind an extant Victorian building on the corner of King Street and the Mall. Significant historic buildings exist on the site and are linked by podium infills.

1998 - Sydney Olympic Train Station

Olympic Park, Homebush
When Sydney won the bid to stage the 2000 Olympic Games, the main sporting venues had been the subject of initial master plans. In the 1995 Master Plan, a loop rail link and proposed an underground station in the centre of the Olympic site was adopted. The station had to be 500m away from the Stadium and 100m west of the main Olympic Plaza and capable of handling crowds of up to 50,000 people per hour arriving and departing. The basic design is that of a barrel vault. The concept of a series of single span vaulted roof trusses which gave a leaf like expression with a ribbed underside was developed and studied using physical models before being tested through computer modelling. A single span system was selected in order to achieve a column-free and spacious concourse. Natural lighting and ventilation required the extensive use of glazing and favoured a columnar structure to a walled one.


The most common style of home built in post World War II Australia was a simple box-shaped cottage with tiled roof, multiple tiered front and a porch or small verandah. The style was a less elaborate, somewhat spartan derivation of the Californian Bungalow, initially of weatherboard construction out of necessity as building materials were in short supply after the war. Double brick and brick veneer eventually replaced weatherboard in the boom building period of the late 1950s/early 1960s. Sandstone, which by now had become the most expensive building material available, was almost totally reserved for fireplaces and internal or external feature walls which enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the 1960s. Most houses were single storey mass produced spec. (speculative) homes constructed by building companies in estates prior to being sold rather than being built to order, a practice that continues today in new subdivisions in outlying areas.

In the 1960s, builders began to experiment with variations to the basic theme. They added embellishments such as courtyards, internal and external arches and split levels which recalled the Homestead, Early Colonial, Old English, Spanish Mission and Mediterranean styles of past eras. Garages, carports and concrete drives were joined by sunrooms, games rooms, rumpus rooms and ensuites as standard fare in the suburban home of the late 20th century. The spartan, boxy blocks of home units that were quickly thrown up the 1950s to meet the demand for low cost housing were in direct contrast to the highly decorative Art Deco apartment buildings of the pre-war era. These rather ugly creations gave way to a variety of more architecturally pleasing styles in the 1960s and 70s which featured everything from arches and bay windows to glass walls and panels, verandahs and courtyards, columns and multi tiered fronts.

As land became more expensive and in shorter supply, some developers have returned to the 19th century concept of the semi-detached home where two houses shared a common wall and were built on a single plot of land. These smaller, less expensive homes were known as villas and quickly grew in popularity, particularly as replacements for older homes in inner suburbs. A new concept saw developers buying up a number of adjoining suburban blocks, demolishing the existing homes and replacing them with mini estates of villas. This type of redevelopment allowed high density living but without the drabness of rows and rows of terrace-houses so common in the inner suburbs of a century ago.

1962 - Blues Point Tower

Sydney based architect Harry Seidler took what was then a radical approach to domestic architecture when he introduced 'skyscraper' apartment living to the Sydney landscape. His creation, known as the Blues Point Tower, was completed in 1962, and was Australia's tallest residential building until 1970. Seidler had planned a high-density redevelopment for the entire suburb. Reacting to a 1957 suggestion that the area, on Sydney's Lower North Shore, be zoned for industrial use, Seidler proposed that McMahons Point could instead house hundreds of apartments, all with harbour views. Although the industrial zoning was rejected, political support for Seidler's plan quickly faded, and Blues Point Tower was the only element of the plan to be built.

Standing 83 metres above the harbour with 144 apartments over 25 levels, the International-style apartment block is often regarded as one of the ugliest buildings in Sydney. The Tower is considered by many Sydney residents to be inconsistent with its surrounding buildings and cityscape. Over time, many public figures have criticised it, or even called for its demolition. However, in 1993, North Sydney Council added the building to its local heritage register. Cartoonist Patrick Cook was one of the most vehement critics. Seidler sued Cook for defamation over a 1982 cartoon in The National Times lampooning Seidler's particular brand of architecture. Seidler lost the case.

One of the first residents was Seidler's late brother, Marcel, a photographer. Over the years, Blues Point Tower has had more than its fair share of celebrity tenants, the most famous being Rupert Murdoch during the 1960s. Gwen Meredith (writer of the enduring radio series Blue Hills) also had an apartment in the building, and the artist Lloyd Rees would often visit a friend's apartment from which he'd make sketches of the harbour. As well as heralding a new architectural age in Sydney itself, Blues Point Tower signalled a major sociological and demographical shift that was 30 years ahead of its time - the shift away from the suburban bungalow and return to the city. It has only been in the past decade that Sydneysiders en masse have begun to accept high-rise city living as a viable option.


1949 - Spit Bridge

The original Spit Bridge replaced a punt service in 1924. Described at the time as the ugliest bridge in Sydney, it had a centre span which was raised and lowered by a spider-like maze of girders, pulleys and cables hovering above it and mounted on the adjacent piers. Complete with a roadway, footway and tram tracks, it was built as a temporary measure only, but worked well, even though it was designed and constructed in a space of less than 12 months. The current bridge, a higher, 4-lane structure with a single-leaf electrically operated bascule span, replaced the earlier structure in 1949. As with the previous crossings, increased traffic have turned the bridge into a bottleneck. Options for the future include a duplicate bascule bridge or a high level structure similar to the Roseville Bridge.

1965 - Silverwater Bridge

Road bridge over the Parramatta River which replaced a smaller timber structure. The new bridge is historically significant in that it was the first box-girder construction and also three-span continuous bridge built in Sydney that followed new developments in prestressed concrete bridge construction overseas.

1956 - Iron Cove Bridge

The present bridge replaced an earlier structure which was built and opened in 1882 to complete the Five Bridges route. Unlike most bridges of its era, the 1882 structure did not end up in the scrap metal yard. Gordon Duff, an enterprising engineer for the Jemalong Shire Council at Forbes purchased the bridge s lattice steel spans and had the re-erected at various sites throughout the shire. It is commonly believed that Iron Cove was named because of the Iron Bridge which spans its mouth. This is not so; it was known as Iron Bark Cove in the 1800s as a forest of iron bark trees surrounded its shores. The current name is a shortened version of the original.

1981 - South Creek Bridge, Windsor

The first bridge built was a floating bridge which carried traffic between 1802 and 1814. Its replacement was a low-level timber beam bridge which survived until 1853 when a high-level bridge consisting of three laminated timber arches replaced it. The bridge was upgraded with steel trusses in 1881 and remained in service until 1981 when the current prestressed concrete girder bridge was built.

1960-64 - Gladesville Bridge

The original Gladesville Bridge was the first road bridge over the main navigable harbour channel and the first permanent regular harbour crossing. Opened 1st February 1881, it was similar in design to the Pyrmont and Glebe Island Bridges, being a low-level bridge on sandstone piers with 5 iron lattice girders each 46m in length, and a central swing-span. The Gladesville Bridge replaced the Bedlam ferry punt , which for 80 years had linked the northern and southern sections of the Great North Road, the main thoroughfare to the Hornsby and Ryde districts from Sydney. Victoria Road became its replacement, leaving the Great North Road as a road to nowhere.

Being only a two-lane bridge including tram tracks, by the 1950s it had become a major bottleneck, with traffic jams and lines of cars queued up to cross being commonplace. In 1960, work commenced on the high span concrete bridge which replaced it. Opened 2nd October 1964, the great concrete arch was built to a height of 40.8 metres at its centre, which allowed access to any large ships which may wish to travel upstream, particularly the colliers which serviced the Mortlake Gasworks. Ironically, following the shift to natural gas, colliers no longer use this section of the river. The arch consists of four concrete-box arches constructed independently of each other then stressed laterally together on steel arch ribs. Span: 308m.

Gladesville Bridge

1963 - Fig Tree Bridge

The first Fig Tree bridge over the Lane Cove River was a swing bridge, similar in design to the original swing bridges at Glebe Island and Pyrmont. The pivot of the swing span was mounted on the shore. The single opening span over the shipping channel had a very short counterweighted section built into the abutment. The swing bridge was replaced by the existing concrete structure in 1963.

1988-92 - Sydney Harbour Tunnel

The Harbour Tunnel, a Government/Private Enterprise Project, with a cost of $738 Million, was opened in August 1992. The 2.3 km tunnel cut crossing time by ten minutes in peak hour and is said to save 13 million litres of fuel a year. With two lanes north and two south, running parallel in separate sections, the tunnel has a design life of 100 years and was created to reduce bridge traffic by up to 60,000 vehicles per day.

The idea of a transport tunnel under the harbour was first proposed by two Sydney businessmen in 1885. their scheme was for twin tunnels, one for trams and one for horses and pedestrians. They offered to build it at their cost but charge a toll over a period of years so as to recoup their investment before handling the tunnels over to the State Government. The proposal was rejected by the Government of the day because it was considered too dangerous. Five years later, a Royal Commission inspected eight plans for a harbour crossing, one of which was for twin tunnels at a proposed cost of £600,000. The next proposal was raised by Chief Engineer John Bradfield around the turn of the century in a major look of Sydney's transport needs, a proposal from which the Harbour Bridge eventuated.

In Bradfield's day it was to be a rail tunnel but in the 1980s, when the idea of the present tunnel was birthed, it was for road traffic. A tunnel was again promoted in 1954 when Harbour Bridge traffic had become very congested. The idea was scrapped in favour of converting the two railway tracks on the eastern side of the bridge to motor vehicle lanes. This plan was effected in 1959. The two lanes thus created were joined to the newly completed Cahill Expressway in 1962 which took two lanes off traffic off the Harbour Bridge and across the front of Circular Quay to the eastern suburbs.

In 1982, a second bridge crossing was proposed but rejected in favour of a tunnel as there were no corridors left for a new north-south freeway. Plans for the tunnel were being formulated in 1985. In June 1987 an agreement was signed for the Sydney Harbour Tunnel Company, a company formed by the Joint Venture, to design, construct and operate the Tunnel. The period of operation would be 30 years, finishing in the year 2022 at which time the Tunnel would be handed over to the Government of NSW free of all costs. This second harbour crossing comprised of a combination of land tunnels on the North and South Harbour connected by an immersed tube tunnel section located in a trench dredged in the Harbour bottom from a point near the north east pylon of the harbour bridge to alongside the Opera House.

Constructed between January 1988 to August 1992 at a cost of $560 million, it has a land tunnel length of 1.3 kilometres (900 meters on North shore, 400 meters on South Shore) and a marine tunnel length of 1 kilometre At its lowest point, the tunnel is 27 meters below mean sea level. The tunnel consists of 8 reinforced concrete immersed tube units, each 120 meters long and weighing 23,000 tonnes. Each unit was prefabricated in Port Kembla, towed to Sydney, floated into position, sunk to rest on the harbour bed, emptied of water, sealed and then locked to its adjoining sections. The underwater sections of the tunnel were connected in March 1991. The first official crossing was made by the Governor of NSW, Rear-Admiral Sinclair and 17 year old apprentice carpenter Charles Nott on 31st March 1991. It was opened to road traffic in August 1992. The four lane tunnel has a traffic capacity of 2,000 vehicles per hour. Traffic is monitored by loop detectors every 120 metres and employs more than 30 closed circuit cameras. It is lit by 8,000 fluorescent tubes. Ventilation is by 14 supply and 16 exhaust fans, each one reversible and up to 2.5 metres in diameter.

2005 - Cross City Tunnel

A 2.1 km-long tunnel that links Darling Harbour on the Western fringe of the central business district to Rushcutters Bay in the Eastern Suburbs. The tunnel is actually two distinct tunnels and they largely follow a route underneath William Street and Park or Bathurst Streets, depending on whether it is eastbound or westbound. A privately-financed and built tollway that has been dogged by controversy, it is somewhat of an unloved white elephant, having never carried the volume of traffic anticipated (projected 90,000 vehicles per day; actual 33,000 vehicles per day) nor relieved traffic conjection in the city centre, the purpose for which it was built.

1992-95 - Anzac Bridge

The Anzac Bridge, spanning Johnstons Bay, is one of Sydney's more recent landmarks. It was built to replace a century old swing bridge and provides a key link between Sydney City and the suburbs to the west via Victoria Rd and an east-west route from the city to the M4 motorway at Concord. Formerly known as the Glebe Island Bridge, it is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Australia and amongst the longest concrete cable-stayed bridges in the world. The main span of the bridge is 345m long and 32.2m wide. A prestressed open grillage, it has two 1.85m deep longitudinal edge beams, cross girders at 5.17m spacing and a 250mm thick slab. The concrete deck is supported by two planes of stay cables attached to the 120m high reinforced delta-shaped reinforced concrete towers which make the bridge a landmark visible from many of the city's inner metropolitan suburbs.

2005 - Sea Cliff Bridge

Sea Cliff Bridge, located to the south of Sydney in the northern Illawarra region, is one of only seven off-shore parallel to coast bridges in the world. It was built to replace a section of Lawrence Hargraves Drive which followed the shoreline between the coastal villages of Coalcliff and Clifton. This roadway had been carved out of the cliff face in the area, but the increase in road triffic combined with the occurance of boulders falling onto the road, demanded a safer means of travel. The solution was this balanced cantilever bridge.

Featuring two lanes of traffic, a cycleway and a walkway, the Sea Cliff Bridge boasts spectacular views and is a feature of the scenic Lawrence Hargrave Drive. The bridge was named by 11 Year old schoolgirl Makenzie Russell (St. Brigids) following a naming competition opened to local primary school students.

The following are the major types of road bridges built in and around Sydney during the 20th century, with a few examples cited of each method of construction.

Steel bridges

Fig Tree Bridge, Gladesville

Cahill Expressway, Sydney. Completed 1955.
Iron Cove Bridge, Birkenhead Point. Completed 1956.
Newbridge Road over Georges River and railway line, Liverpool. Completed 1958.
Fig Tree Bridge over Lane Cove River. Completed 1963.
Macarthur Bridge over Nepean River. Completed 1972.

Prestressed concrete road bridges

Captain Cook Bridge, Taren Point

Sunnyholt Road over the railway at Blacktown. Completed 1955.
Burnt Bridge Creek. Completed 1957.
Fairfield over the railway. Completed 1959.
Narabeen Lakes Bridge. Completed 1959.
Clanville Road, Roseville. Completed 1960.
Abattoir, Flemington. Completed 1961.
O'Connell Street, Parramatta. Completed 1962.
Princes Highway over Cooks River, Tempe. Completed 1962.
Victoria Road, Rydalmere. Completed 1963.
Melford Street, Hurlstone Park. Completed 1964.
Tarban Creek Bridge. Completed 1965.
Captain Cook Bridge, over the Georges River. Completed 1965.
Milperra Bridge over George River. Completed 1966.
Regentville Bridge over the Nepean River. Completed 1971.
Alfords Point Bridge over the Georges River, Menai. Completed 1973.
South Creek, Windsor. Completed 1975.
Lane Cove Road/Epping Road interchange. Completed 1978. 102m long, 22m wide.
Gardeners Road over Southern Cross Drive, Eastlakes. Completed 1969.
Fairford Road over Canterbury Road, Bankstown. Completed 1985.
Epping Road interchange. Completed 1978.
Bondi Junction bypass. Completed 1978.

Prestressed concrete railway bridges

Horsley Drive, Fairfield. Completed 1967 and built to replace a level crossing.
Aston Street, Rosehill. Completed 1986 and built to replace level crossing.
Western Suburbs Railway viaducts at Wooloomooloo and Rushcutters Bay. Completed 1979.

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