Circular Quay. Road in Sydney, New South Wales

Circular Quay

Road in Sydney, New South Wales

Australian Icons | Circular Quay | Sydney Photo © Hadi Zaher

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Circular Quay

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Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Circular Quay lies in the heart of Sydney, Australia, and is one of the major transportation hubs in the city. It is a harbor – with some imagination you may even say it is an actual circle – situated in the north of the Sydney Central Business District. Located at Sydney Cove between The Rocks and Bennelong Point (Wikipedia
	Article), the Quay is home to some of Sydney’s most famous attractions. It consists of pedestrianized walkways, restaurants, bars, and parks, as well as a train station, bus stops, and ferry terminals.

A walkway on the southern side of Circular Quay runs towards the iconic Sydney Opera House and the magnificent green oasis that is the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. Another walkway, on the northern side, leads to the equally iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Rocks, the oldest neighborhood in the city. The area is always bustling, as it is the number one tourist hotspot in Sydney. The combination and variation of attractions in and around Circular Quay is close to unique. In addition, the area is also home to some of the city’s very best restaurants. And the harbor views are, obviously, unbeatable.

The New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney Harbour are world-famous and Circular Quay happens to be the focal point of this fantastic spectacle.

Opera House Bar - Circular
Opera House Bar - Circular Quay. Photo by Homeless Bear


City of blinding lights
	- Circular Quay, Sydney NSW - Circular Quay
City of blinding lights - Circular Quay, Sydney NSW - Circular Quay. Photo by Peter Spradbrow
In the beginning of 1788, the First Fleet (Wikipedia Article) landed in Sydney Cove, the very location of present-day Circular Quay. At first the area was used almost solely for shipping. It wasn't until a while later that it became a center of entertainment and transportation.

When trams were still operating, Circular Quay was the focal point. In 1861, the first tram ran through the Quay along Pitt Street to the old Sydney Railway Station. It was horse-drawn. The purpose of these trams between the train station and Circular Quay was to provide easy connections to ferry terminals. 27 regular tram services used to run. Now, the only Australian city that still has an operating tram system is Melbourne.

The original name of Circular Quay was Semi-Circular Quay, which is what it actually is. The only reason for shortening the name was convenience.

 - Circular Quay
Circular Quay. Photo by Lina Hayes


Sydney Harbour
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Circular Quay is, without question, one of the major transportation centers in Sydney. There are a train station, several bus stops, and ferry quays. The railway station at Circular Quay is the only station on the City Circle that lies above ground. The City Circle is Sydney’s metro or underground system, which loops around underneath Sydney’s Central Business District. The platforms of the Circular Quay station overlook the ferry quays and offer great views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.

The Cahill Expressway is a major elevated road that runs on top of the City Circle station in Circular Quay and connects the suburb of Woolloomooloo (Wikipedia Article) with North Sydney. The first freeway ever built in Australia, it runs through The Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens via tunnels and cuttings, past Circular Quay and across the Harbour Bridge. This urban freeway was named after John Cahill, who was the premier of New South Wales at the time of construction. Incidentally, it was he who also gave the start sign for the building of the Opera House.

Circular Quay used to be a main tram terminal. Nowadays, many bus routes follow the former tram lines and have stops at Circular Quay. Five commuter ferry terminals are located at Circular Quay. The Quay is also the end-point for all ferries that operate in the Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour. In addition to the public ferries, there is also a large offer of harbor taxis, boat tours, and harbor cruises by smaller companies.

sydney_vivid_circular_quay - Circular Quay
sydney_vivid_circular_quay - Circular Quay. Photo by lightcubex

Circular Quay 30/03/2010 - Circular Quay
Circular Quay 30/03/2010 - Circular Quay. Photo by Nigel Howe

Things to See and Do

Home to many of Sydney’s major icons, Circular Quay provides entertainment and excitement to all visitors. After arriving at the Quay it really is hard to choose where to go first. On the eastern side lie the Opera House and the huge Royal Botanic Gardens, which offers fantastic views of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Located to the west are the magnificent Harbour Bridge and the old neighborhood of The Rocks, one of the city’s most interesting and lively areas. The Quay is fringed with excellent restaurants, great bars, and nice cafés.

Visitors can take a ferry to Sydney Olympic Park along the beautiful Parramatta River, or to one of the foreshores of Sydney Harbour National Park where they can enjoy a picnic or go for a swim. In addition, there are also ferries to Manly, with its fantastic beach and aquarium, or across the harbor to Taronga Zoo, the world’s only zoo with a view.

For culture, people can visit the Museum of Contemporary Art and the City of Sydney Library.

Similar Landmarks

Another popular and bustling harbor area in Sydney is Darling Harbour, probably the one main center of entertainment and nightlife in the city. There are ferries from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 17, 2015

Pictures of Circular Quay

Circular Quay - Circular Quay
Circular Quay - Photo by Jen


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