Sydney Extremes

Central Business District

Fort Phillip

The oldest surviving built structure in the inner city area is believed to be a section of the Fort Phillip perimeter wall. Constructed at the peak of Observatory Hill in 1804, Fort Phillip was ill-conceived, was never completed and never had the potential to be used as anything but a barracks or, as happened, a signal station.

The Oldest Building is the Mint Building on Macquarie Street which was opened in 1815 as part of the Rum Hospital. The oldest residential building is Cadman's Cottage at The Rocks (1816).

Sydney Tower

The tallest man-made structure is the communication spire of Sydney Tower, which is 305 metres above street level. At 228 metres, the 55-level MLC Centre in Pitt Street is the highest building.
Century Tower, at 158 metres above street level, is Sydney's tallest residential building. The World Tower development when completed with become the tallest at 232 metres above street level.

Two Red Gums in the Royal Botanical Gardens behind the Sydney Opera House (above) are believed to be the oldest trees in the inner city area. They are also the closest native trees to the centre of Sydney. It is not known if they were alive when the first fleet arrived in 1788, or whether they are descendents of original bushland species, or whether they pre-date the gardens, as the age of trees of this species is hard to confirm.

Arthur Phillip's landing, 1788

What seems to support the possibility that the trees pre-date colonisation is a painting depicting the raising of the British flag on the shores of Sydney Cove by Gov. Arthur Phillip on 26th January 1788. On the right hand side of the painting are two Red Gums standing by themselves in exactly the same position and location as today's two red gums. Could the trees in the painting be the very trees that stand opposite the Opera House today? They are remarkably similar in shape, and judging by the size of the people depicted, today's trees are twice their size. Compared to the tree on the left of the painting, the 1788 trees are little more than saplings, so if they were still alive today, they would hve grown and matured into similar sized tress to those that stand on the exact same spot today.

The oldest known planted trees are a row of deteriorating Swamp Mahoganies, planted in 1816 to line the newly completed Mrs Macquaries Road. They are to the north of the Macquarie Wall. A replacement row was planted in 2002, from seed sourced from La Perouse (seed collected from the trees themselves was not viable).
The next oldest planted tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens is the Red Cedar near the Palm House, collected from near Parramatta in 1822. The closest stands of Red Cedar are now probably in Royal National Park and Kurrajong. The adjacent Broad-leaved Paperbark was proba bly collected locally and planted sometime before 1828.

Atherden Street

The shortest street in Sydney is Atherden Street in The Rocks. Just 28 metres long, it extends from Playfair Street into what was once the face of a quarry.

At 2.4 metres from kerb to kerb, the narrowest streets in Sydney (they are identical in width) are Argyle Lane and Lance Lane in Millers Point. High Lane, which runs parallel to Argyle Lance and Lance Lane, is just 8 cm wider but is on a higher elevation in its middle section. The streets appear to be dual carriageways of the same street but they are not.

In 1802, first fleet chaplain Rev Richard Johnson became rector of St Phillip's, Church Hill located on York St, Sydney, making it the oldest parishes in Sydney and jointly with St John's Parramatta, the oldest in Australia. The current church buildings at both parishes were completed in 1856.

David Jones, Sydney

David Jones is Sydney's oldest department store and retail trading establishment and one of the world's only department stores still trading under its original name. Opened for business in 1877 in a small store in George Street opposite Martin Place, it still operates to it's founders ideal, to sell "the best and most exclusive goods" and to carry "a stock that embraces the everyday wants of mankind at large." Sydney's biggest shopping mall is the five level Parramatta Westfield Centre, which was opened in 1974. It has 360 retail outlets, a cinema complex and five major department stores.

Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney is the oldest scientific institution and the oldest Garden in Australia.

Queen Mary 2 berthed at Cowper Wharf, Woolloomooloo

The Cunard passenger liner Queen Mary 2, which visits Sydney every February on its annual world cruise, was the largest vessel to enter Sydney Harbour before 2019. At the time of her construction in 2003, Queen Mary 2 was the longest, widest and tallest passenger ship ever built, and with a gross tonnage of 148,528 tonnes, was also the largest. She no longer holds this distinction after the construction of Royal Caribbean International's 154,407 tonne Freedom of the Seas in April 2006. Queen Mary 2 is too large to berth at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, and must tie up at the Navy's Cowper Wharf, Woolloomooloo, or anchor in the harbour off Bradleys Head.
The 118,000-tonne ore carrier Iron Pacific is the biggest vessel to birth at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay. P&O Cruises' Star Princess was the biggest passenger ship to arrive in Australia when it made its inaugural visit to Australia in November 2003, and remains the largest passenger liner to berth at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Woronora Trig Station

The highest natural point within the Sydney Metropolitan Area is the Woronora Trig Station, about 5 km south west of Heathcote, which is 281.88m above sea level.

The shortest distance between any two stations on the Sydney rail network is between Granville and Clyde. The stations are about 730 metres apart.

Elizabeth Bay

The most densely populated area of Sydney, and in fact the whole of Australia, is the suburb of Elizabeth Bay. At the other extreme, Schofields is the least densely populated, with just 3,000 people living within its 6.2 sq. km.

Sydney Metropolitan Area
St John's Church Parramatta was founded in 1802 by the well-known colonial chaplain, Rev Samuel Marsden, making it the oldest suburban parish in Sydney and jointly with St Phillip's Sydney, the oldest in Australia. The current church buildings at both parishes were completed in 1856.

Old Government House, Parramatta

The oldest building is Old Government House, Parramatta Park, Parramatta, parts of which date from 1790. The oldest residence is the homestead of Elizabeth Farm, 70 Alice Street, Parramatta, which was erected in 1793. The place containing the oldest evidence of human occupation is a rock shelter by the Nepean River near Penrith. Carbon dating of artefacts found their indicate they are 14,700 years old.

The oldest known undisturbed grave in Sydney, in fact in Australia, is in St John's Cemetery, Parramatta. The grave is marked by a slab of river sandstone which bears the inscription: "H.E. Dodd 1791." He was buried there on 29th January 1791, a year after the opening of the cemetery. Dodd, who was Gov. Phillip's valet for the voyage out from England, was placed in charge of the farm at Farm Cove in February 1788. Dodd had been an agricultural labourer and had worked on Phillip's farm in Hampshire.

Blaxland High School on Coughlan Road sits on the most westerly extremity of Metropolitan Sydney, the railway line behind it being the boundary.

Marine Parade, Bangalley Head

The homes on Marine Parade, Avalon behind St Michael's Cave are Sydney's most easterly residences. The most easterly point is Bangalley Head, Avalon, a short walk away.

Australia's oldest existing gravestone was erected in an area known as Campbell's Ridge at Dawes Point which was Sydney's first burial ground. Its inscription reads: "In memory of George Graves late boatswain's yeoman of HMS Sirius who departed this life ye 10th July 178(8) aged 48 years". The headstone was dug out of the ground in the early 1870s and later found serving as a paving stone in Bethel Street, The Rocks. The stone is now on display in the Coach House at Vaucluse House.

McElhone Lane, Surry Hills is the narrowest suburban street in Sydney. A row of stone cottages in it were once occupied by dairymen who cows grazed in a paddock at the end of the street. Their cattle were kept off the street by a gate.

Neotsfield Avenue, Sydney's most northerly street. Cars are banned on Dangar Island, so the residents use wheelbarrows to cart their groceries home.

Neotsfield Avenue

The homes of Dangar Island in the Hawkesbury River are the most northerly in Metropolitan Sydney, the island's store is Sydney's most northerly building. The most northerly street on Dangar Island, and hence Sydney's most northerly street, is Neotsfield Avenue, which leads from the public wharf through the main settlement.

The lowest point within the Sydney Metropolitan Area is obviously sea level unless you include tunnels or the harbour at its deepest point in your calculations. In the case of the latter, this occurs between Dawes Point and Blues Point where the waters reaches a depth of 47.2m.
As for tunnels, the deepest is part of a coal mining venture which cut a labyrinth of 5m diameter brick-lined shafts and tunnels under Balmain and the Harbour from Birchgrove between 1897 to 1931. The deepest of these is believed to have been a tunnel 900 metres below Parramatta River in the vicinity of Birkenhead Point.

Hunts Creek Dam

Sydney's oldest surviving water storage dam that is still in use is the Hunts Creek Dam off James Ruse Drive, Parramatta. Located within Lake Parramatta Reserve, the 8 metre high dam wall was built in 1855 and was an important part of Sydney's first independent water supply, bringing water Sydney's greater west. It was also the first use of a proper dam wall in the colony, The dam is no longer part of Sydney's water supply and has been adapted for recreational use.
Sydney's oldest surviving reservoir is in Hurley Park in Dumaresq Street, Campbelltown. Built between 1838 to 1840 using convict labour and financed by local settlers, it consists of a reservoir which was the town's water supply until 1882, a spillway flowing to a tank from which cattle could drink.

This tiny triangle of beach on Lavender Bay is the smallest beach in the Sydney metropolitan area. The beach once extend the full length of the bay's foreshore, but industry and then the development of wharves, boat moorings and seawalls has seen it shrink to its present minuscule size.

Isaac Smith, eighteen year old Midshipman and cousin of Cook s wife Elizabeth, is the first recorded European to set foot on the east coast of Australia when the crew of HM Endeavour came ashore at Botany Bay on 29 April 1770. A small brass plaque marks the site on the beach at Kurnell.

Hunters Hill, named in 1794 after the second governor of the NSW, Captain John Hunter, is the smallest local government area in metropolitan Sydney.

Holroyd Brickworks

Holroyd is the smallest locality in Sydney. Three streets form its borders and for many years it comprised solely of an abandoned brickworks site. Until recently, no streets passed through it and 50% is of its area was a park. A section of Holroyd has been re-developed as a residential area.

In terms of area, Huntleys Point, with five streets and Rushcutters Bay with 10 streets are slightly larger than Holroyd, followed by the similarly sized but still tiny suburbs of Kyle Bay (nine streets), Kangaroo Pt. (eight streets) and Canada Bay (13 streets). Breakfast Point has only three streets but it is larger in area than all of the above suburbs, as it is a big industrial site.

43 Edgeware Road, Enmore

The narrowest house in Sydney is a tiny, two storeyed Victorian house at 43 Edgeware Road, Enmore. It is less than 3 metres wide. In spite of its size, it was subdivided at one stage into 4 flats. Steep stairs in a blue and white pattern lead to the front door. The tiny verandah is heavily decorated with cast-iron lace.

The suburb receiving the highest rainfall according to the Bureau of Meteorology is Ingleside with 1,414 mm per year. Turramurra and Frenchs Forest vie for second place with an annual recorded average of 1,404 mm. Camden is at the opposite end of the scale with 750 mm.

Wolseley Road, Point Piper

The most valuable street in terms of its real estate value has been calculated as being Wolseley Road, Point Piper. An evaluation in 2002 calculated the total value of waterfront properties in this 1 km long blue ribbon street as being $720 million.

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