Think you’ve heard all there is to know about Australia’s lively capital city? From killer spiders to expensive opera houses, we’ll bet you haven’t heard some of these interesting facts about Sydney before.
Interesting facts about Sydney
1. The Sydney Fish Market is one of the world’s largest fish markets
The Sydney Fish Market is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s also the third-largest in the world. Open every day of the year except for Christmas Day, it’s an authentic, working fish market located in Blackwattle Bay close to downtown Sydney. Inside, you’ll find a wide array of seafood retailers, cafés and restaurants, as well as Sydney Seafood School. It’s one of the best places in the city to find Aussie favourites like Prawns, Oysters, Rocklobster and Barramundi.
2. It’s the birthplace of the humble Granny Smith Apple
Most Brits assume the Granny Smith hails from England’s rolling hills, but it was actually born over 16,000 km (10,500 miles) away on the sandy shores of Sydney. Maria Ann Smith, who emigrated with her husband from the UK in 1838, created it by accident. According to local legend, she grew French crab apples in her garden and when she’d finished with the cores, she tossed them onto a compost heam. The rest is history.
Every year, on the Eastbank, there’s a Granny Smith Festival to mark the momentous occasion. Attendees dress up in apple-themed clothing, stalls serve up apple-based treats and there’s even an apple baking competition.
3. Sydney is home to one of the world’s deadliest spiders
The Sydney Funnel Web Spider is one of the most dangerous spiders on the planet. It can kill a human in just 15 minutes and its fangs can bite through gloves and fingernails.
It’s part of the funnel web spider family, found along Australia’s eastern coast, from New South Wales to Queensland. The Sydney funnel-web (Atrax robustus) tends to live in the suburbs and bushland in between Newcastle and Illawarra. They’re relative reach, with male spiders reaching a span of 10 cm.
4. The Sydney Opera House went WAY over budget
Completed in October 1973, the Sydney Opera House is now one of the most iconic monuments in the world. Part of that might be down to size; at 185 metres long and 120 metres wide, it’s one of the largest opera houses in the world. It’s pretty tall too, floating 22 storeys above Sydney at 67 metres (220 feet) high. But more likely it’s those instantly recognisable sails.
Original estimates for construction we $7 million. In the end, building the opera house cost $102 million. A State Lottery paid for most of this. It also took a lot longer to build the opera house than anticipated too. Work began in 1959 with 10,000 builders. Jørn Utzon resigned as chief architect in 1966 after he stopped receiving payments from the newly-appointed liberal government. There were huge protests demanding he be reinstated but he ended up leaving in April of the same year. He never returned – even when Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of Architects Australia in 1973.
5. A huge percentage of Sydney’s population was born overseas
Sydney is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Close to 40% of the population was born in another country, and census records reveal that there are over 200 different dialects spoken in the city.
6. Sydney has been inhabited for an awfully long time
Using radiocarbon dating, experts estimate that indigenous Australians inhabited Sydney at least 30,000 years ago.
7. Sydney Harbour Bridge has broken a lot of records
One of the capital’s most iconic sights, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the longest steel arch bridges in the world, stretching across 1650 ft (502 metres). It’s also the world’s widest and tallest long-span bridge in the world, according to Guinness World Records.
Today it encompasses eight traffic lanes, a railway track, a bicycle path, a walkway and a set of stairs climbing to the centre of the bridge. It’s known locally as ‘The Coat Hanger’ due to its shape.