Sydney’s main transport and tourism hub is based at Circular Quay. It was here in 1788, 18 years after Captain Cook discovered Australia at Botany Bay (just by the Sydney International Airport), that Captain Phillip and the ships of the First Fleet landed to establish the new colony.
What is at Circular Quay?
Circular Quay is where the Sydney Harbour meets the Central Business District of Sydney. It’s a port that’s abuzz with locals and tourists alike as it’s the main terminus for the Sydney Ferry services and a place to change to the city’s train and bus services.
But everywhere you look at Circular Quay, you’ll be amazed by the energy and the iconography of sights like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, which is a short walk from the ferries at Bennelong Point.
It wasn’t just a terminus of trains and ferries that could be found at Circular Quay. Bennelong Point, the site of the iconic Sydney Opera House, which was named after one of the original landowners, was up until the 1950s, a bus terminal. It was demolished to make way for the architectural and cultural treasure that is the Opera House.
For foodies, you’ll find Chef acclaimed restaurants, Aria and Quay. And don’t miss the chance to sip on an ice-cold craft beer or Aperol spritz and watch the world go by.
The Sydney Customs House holds a commanding position just across from the ferries, a testament to a time when the main cargo ships docked in this area and not down at the ports of Botany Bay. Constructed in 1844 in Georgian style by Mortimer Lewis, the Sydney Customs House ceased operating as a customs office in 1988 and today is used for events.
To the west of Circular Quay, you’ll see Sydney Contemporary Art, the city’s repository of modern artworks, and the ultra-modern Cruise Ship Terminal. For the last two years, the terminal has been devoid of the massive Norwegian and P&O style pleasure ships that have been popular for their packages to French Polynesia and Fiji. Early in the pandemic, the New South Wales government knowingly let infected passengers disembark and enter the community, sparking the first wave of Covid in Australia and almost destroying its tourism-based economy,
Pandemic horror stories aside, the terminal offers a spectacular view of the Harbour and is a must-visit if you like beers – the James Squire Ale House has some of Australia’s most drinkable brews. And if you like quality old pubs, head to The Rocks, once an area of downtrodden tenements, warehouses, and crime, which is now one of the most appealing parts of Sydney.
Catch a Ferry to Luna Park or the Zoo
Across the Harbour and just under the reaches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, you’ll see the giant grin and colorful towers of Luna Park, Sydney’s oldest pier-style amusement park.
In 1979, Luna Park was mothballed until 1981 after a fire on the Ghost Train rollercoaster. It was not until recently that it was revealed that the fire was an arson attack by organized crime monsters who dominated the Sydney underworld between the 1960s and late 1980s. The park was bulldozed and reconstructed, eventually being refurbished in the 90s and returned to its former glory.
Today, Luna Park is a popular playground for families and first dates. The iconic gateway makes for perfect Instagram fodder, and the ferry ride will give you a grand view of the bridge and Sydney Opera House together.
Circular Quay Ferries
You can use your Oyster transit card to buy tickets on most Sydney ferries at Circular Quay. As a harbour city, the waters offer a relaxed way to get around, and the famous ferries are a refreshing change to the daily commute. Regular ferry services depart for destinations like Manly and its popular beaches, Watson’s Bay, Parramatta, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, Mosman Bay, and Cockatoo Island, to name just a few.Follow & Connect with us