Sydney

This page includes my grandfather's postcards from Sydney

Sydney
Sydney aerial view as seen on Google Earth [1] Click image for enlarged view

Brief History of Sydney

There is evidence of Aboriginal people living in the Sydney area for up to 50,000 years before the arrival of Europeans. Those living closest to Sydney were 'The Eora People' and these were the first to 'benefit' from contact with the newcomers. Captain James Cook entered what we call Botany Bay in HMS Endeavour on 19 April 1770. Cook gave the place its name - though his original thought was to call it Sting-Ray Harbour. He changed his mind in the light of the impressive flora and fauna unknown to Europeans that were recorded by the expedition's naturalist Joseph Banks and his assistants.

Australia's first British colony of New South Wales was established in 1788 by Captain Arthur Phillip who arrived with a fleet of 11 vessels carrying over 1,000 settlers, of whom 778 were convicts. The British had two purposes in colonisation: finding an alternative 'dumping-ground' for criminals, since the American Revolution had removed the option of dumping them in America, and preventing the French Empire from expanding into the area.

Botany Bay was found to be unsuitable for agriculture so the fleet moved on to settle Sydney Cove, landing there on 26 January 1788 - now commemorated as Australia Day. The name Sydney was chosen in honour of the British Home Secretary of the time, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney. Phillip, a British Royal Navy officer, was appointed Governor of the new colony.

Phillip wanted skilled tradesmen to join the colony but instead was sent large numbers of convicts with very few useful skills. The colony struggled to produce food and there was a great deal of sickness. As elsewhere, Aboriginal people suffered very badly as they had no immunity to diseases brought by the Europeans. Aboriginal food sources were reduced as the settlers cleared land for farming. Unsurprisingly, the twin effects of hunger and disease resulted in violent confrontation which went on from 1795-1816 with the British defeating the Aboriginal people and dispossessing them of their lands.

Between 1788 and 1842 it is estimated that about 80,000 convicts were transported to New South Wales of which 85% were men. About two-thirds were English, a third Irish with small numbers of Scots and Welsh people. Not all were 'common criminals' - some were involved in rebellion and civil unrest in Britain.

In 1851, a gold rush followed the discovery of gold at Bathurst, about 120 miles west of Sydney. Large numbers of immigrant miners arrived at Sydney and the population swelled from 39,000 to 200,00 over a period of just 20 years.

Sydney developed financially and culturally during the 19th century. There was a horse-drawn tram system from 1861 and electrification had started by 1898. Sydney's population had grown to over a million by the early 20th century.

Sydney Postcards

Coogee Beach

The unused postcard below, in the 'Valentine Series' and presumably from J. Valentine & Co. of Dundee, is captioned 'Coogee Beach'. The beach is busy with rather over-dressed people; many paddling but there is nobody swimming in the sea. Several ladies are carrying parasols. Coogee Beach is on the east coast about 5 miles south-east of the centre of Sydney. It was connected to the city by a tramway from 1883.

Coogee Beach Sydney
Coogee Beach

Dinghy Race

The unused postcard below, in the 'Valentine Series' and presumably from J. Valentine & Co. of Dundee, is captioned 'Dingy Race at Sydney' - a typo that I can well understand as I always struggle with this word despite having owned several dinghies over the years. Many boats can be seen and a large crowd of well-dressed spectators watch from the shoreline. There is insufficient detail in the image to locate where in Sydney this race took place.

Dinghy Race At Sydney
Dinghy Race At Sydney

Flat Rock Middle Harbour

The unused postcard below, in the 'Valentine Series' and presumably from J. Valentine & Co. of Dundee, is captioned 'Flat Rock, Middle Harbour, Sydney'. Middle harbour is a large inlet off the main bay of Sydney Harbour and about 7 miles to the north of the city. There is a Flat Rock Beach next to Sugarloaf Bay and by the entrance to the Garigal National Park. The view includes a steam ferry and a gentlemen with a straw boater posing in the foreground.

Flat Rock Middle Harbour Sydney
Flat Rock Middle Harbour, Sydney

Manly Beach

The unused postcard below, in the 'Valentine Series' and presumably from J. Valentine & Co. of Dundee, is captioned 'Manly Beach'. It shows a group of rather overdressed people paddling in the surf. The gentleman and lady on the left are presumably wearing what were the latest fashions.

Manly Beach was given its name by the first Governor Arthur Phillip in 1788. He named it in recognition of the 'confident and manly behaviour of the local Aboriginal people of the Cannalgal and Kayimai clans who waded out to meet his boat in North Harbour'.

It is now the location of the Australian Open Surfing competition, which is held in February, and of many other outdoor activities.

Manly Beach
Manly Beach Sydney

Mosman Bay

The unused postcard below, in the 'Valentine Series' and presumably from J. Valentine & Co. of Dundee, is captioned 'Mosman Bay'. It shows a tranquil scene in this inlet which is on the far side of Sydney Harbour near the north end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (which didn't open until 1932). A steam ferry can be seen in the distance and probably provided a connecting service to the main part of Sydney.

Mosman Bay Sydney
Mosman Bay Sydney

The image below (not part of the collection) shows a view of Mosman Bay looking in the opposite direction and taken in 1905. The ferry shown is Kummulla and may well be the same vessel as on the postcard. Notes with the image say that it shows homes of the 'well-to-do' spreading round the foreshores of the bay.

Mosman Bay
Ferry Kummulla in Mosman Bay dated 1 January 1905 [18]

Click on the link below to go to the page with further postcards from places in Australia.