Sydney, the largest city in Australia and Oceania, is Australia's financial hub. It is the capital of the state of New South Wales, but not the capital of Australia (that role is fulfilled by Canberra). Its most famous landmarks are the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge; the former, in particular, is required by law to be shown in any fictional depiction of the city. Its only major nickname is "The Harbour City", but it is occasionally referred to as the "Emerald City of Oz", which upon closer inspection is something of a backhanded compliment.
Considered to be among the most beautiful cities in the world thanks to said landmarks (and many more besides), its diverse environment (beaches, parks, forests...) and temperate climate,note it makes for a very popular tourist destination - indeed, tourism forms a large part of the city's economy. It has Australia's most famous beach (Bondi Beach) and a very active nightclub scene.
Amongst Sydneysiders is one of the biggest overseas-born populations of any city in the world. Consequently, the city is wildly multicultural both as a matter of official policy, and in day-to-day life. It has the largest Asian, Middle-Eastern, and North and South American communities in Australia,note as well as significant Pacific Islander, African, and Aboriginal Australian communities, and a European-heritage majority. It is home to Oceania's biggest Chinatown. While the overwhelming majority of Sydneysiders speak Australian English, the city is home to languages from all over the world, chiefly Arabic (4.1%), Mandarin (3%), and Cantonese (3%). Sydney is the most ethnically diverse city in Australia.
Perhaps Sydney's most spectacular display of entertainment is the annual New Year's Eve celebrations - one of the earliest celebrated due to time zone differences - where no less than 1 million people, native and tourist alike, will pack themselves into the harbourside, the CBD (Central Business District) and its surrounding areas.note Another much-loved attraction is the Royal Easter Show. Sydney also has the successful Vivid and Coffee festivals.
An establishing shot of Sydney (especially the Opera House and/or the Harbour Bridge) is a quick and easy way for a movie to show that its threat is worldwide: see, for instance, Independence Day's flying-saucer-over-the-Harbour shot. It's also popular for Nations Of The World Montages.
While present-day Sydney is noted for its beauty and is currently ranked as an Alpha+ global city, the history that shaped it is considerably less pretty. Sydney had a very rocky start: the first British colonists here had very little food, and conditions amongst convict workers were harsh. Even convicts who had earned their freedom had many restrictions imposed onto them, and then-governor William Bligh decided to impose even more restrictions on rum, which was used as currency back then, as well as prevent the colony from taking in free settlers to keep New South Wales purely a penal colony. This led to the Rum Rebellion, which resulted in two years military rule and the ascension of Lachlan Macquarie. This rarely-mentioned rebellion arguably made a big impact on Australia's future: convicts could now have no restrictions placed onto them, and free settlers were welcomed in. The 19th Century was a testing time: early on, the dangers of famine were looming, and even when food was no longer a problem, Sydney was riddled with disease and crime, seemingly destined to forever be in the shadow of Melbourne, which had overtaken Sydney in both population and wealth on the back of a Gold Rush.
Sydney's fortunes reversed in the 1890s, when Melbourne's booming economy crashed, causing a nationwide economic recession and leaving Melbourne economically stagnant for decades. Even with Melbourne becoming capital of Australia from Federation in 1901 to 1927, Sydney overtook Melbourne's place as Australia's biggest city in 1905, and from that point on, it became a much better place to live than it was previously. However, trends are showing that Melbourne might take that coveted spot back very soon. Today, Sydney is a very large city, taking up a size roughly 75% of The Netherlands, with its population spread out all over the place. There's been talks of centralising the city and decentralising the states to prevent NSW from becoming a one-city state; cities such as Wollongong, Newcastle, Griffith and Albury are increasingly being seen as alternatives to Sydney, and Sydney's high (read: astronomical) housing prices and shoddy infrastructure (which they're desperately striving to improve), such as an overcrowded airport and relatively slow public transport note , in The New '10s only add fuel to that fire. Multiple renovations in the city (such as making a giant park in the city's west, a French Riviera-style strip in Brighton-le-Sands and turning King's Cross into Sydney's Times Square,note ) are underway, leading to the nickname "City of Cranes" due to the somewhat absurd amount of development done to it.note . Just don't bring up the Lockout Laws (which have, since January 2020, been mostly scrapped).
Sydney's massive sprawl (and as mentioned before, we mean massive) means that it dominates the central coast of New South Wales; the metropolitan area includes Greater Sydney, Illawarra (from Wollongong to as far south as Nowra), the Southern Highlands (which includes Bowral and Moss Vale), through the Blue Mountains as far west as Lithgow, Central Coastnote , before linking up with the Newcastle metro area (including Lake Macquarie, Maitland, the Hunter basin up to Muswellbrook and up the coast to Nelson Bay). With more and more people living in commuter towns rather than near the city itself, there have been no signs of slowing down, with urban sprawl potentially reaching the regional city of Goulburn or even Canberra.
Sydney has several major sub-regions:
- The CBD and Eastern Sydney. The Sydney CBD is one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, and contains Asian regional offices for many big multi-national companies as well as a majority of Australian ones. Sydney Harbour and Bondi Beach are considered part of this region. Also the center of the hipster and artistic side of the city, as well as one of the larger Aboriginal populations in Redfern. The Inner West has become part of this region as the city expanded, it contains 'old growth' multicultural areas from the post-war immigration era, with areas commonly associated with Italians, Greeks and other Southern European nations. It's also home to the largest Chinatown in Australia. The current airport is located here.
- North Shore and the Northern Beaches are considered the upper class area of the city. Contains old homes, rich people, and a private school or three in each suburb. It has a genteel culture and a generous abundance of trees, parks and strips of natural bush. It is split from the Inner City and CBD by Sydney Harbour. The North Shore is home to the City of Ryde, one of the most multicultural areas in Australia (although still not as diverse as certain spots to the west, like Parramatta). The North's growing Asian community also includes "Little Korea" at its edge in Eastwood, while walking through other parts of the region are rather like walking through a city in China. The Northern Beaches is where Home and Away is filmed and is known for its super expensive houses in an impractical location (e.g. poor public transport, steep hills, winding roads) which are bought to solely to showcase the owner's wealth.
- The North West is considered "the suburbs" and goes from Epping to Hornsby to Parramatta. Has an odd relationship with the rest of the city as it is trapped between demographics, with people further East associating the North West with the middle and lower classes in the West and South West, while the people in those areas associate the North West with the upper class North Shore and CBD areas. It further isolates itself from the rest of the city because of it's preferences for both Rugby Union and a much higher level of interest in Australian Rules Football. Lots of parks and shopping centers. Some areas are not so multicultural, others (such as Epping for example, which has an Asian majority) have become extremely multicultural. May also consider Hornsby a part. Goes from Dural to Epping to Hornsby to Parramatta. A subset of the North West is the Hills District, a vague term for where you find nouveau riche upper-middle class families, almost all of which live in giant Mc Mansions and send their kids to fancy private schools in what could be termed the Australian version of The American Dream. Others are middle upper class and middle class but are not rich. It is considered one of the centres of the religious movement in Australia, with the 'Hillsong' Church being equivalent to Christian fundamentalist movements in the United States. Has a real suburb justifiably named Arcadia.
- Sutherland (and St George) is where the real surfer culture in Sydney is. It is directly south of the CBD and on the coast. Bondi Beach is for tourists, while Sutherland contains all the best surfing beaches in the city, like Cronulla Beach. It has a large white majority and reflects the demographics of Australia as a whole much more than the rest of the city does. This has caused tension with the West, as the more multicultural areas will head to Sutherland for the weekend, leading to anger at being 'invaded'. This tension eventually blew up during 2005 in what was termed the "Cronulla Race Riot". It includes Botany Bay which is not part of Sydney Harbour.
- The West of Sydney has started to be termed 'Greater Western Sydney', but this area is so large and massive that it makes more sense to discuss more specifically the sub-regions.
- South Western Sydney, centered around the 'second CBD' of Parramatta was filled with immigration waves from the 1970's onward. This contained Vietnamese fleeing from The Vietnam War, Lebanese, Iranian and Iraqi refugees, ex-Yugoslavian immigrants and from the mid 2000's, African refugees many of which come from Sudan. It is one of the most multi-cultural regions on the planet note and has been said to contain people from more countries than actually exist right now. Apart from Parramatta, there is relatively little high rise buildings and contains wide areas of urban sprawl. Unlike the rest of the city, people from the South West will prefer Association Football over Rugby League, and half of all players from the Australian National team hail from the South West area.
- Blacktown and Penrith (situated in the Cumberland region) were once considered Satellite Cities, but population spread and development has pushed Blacktown into Sydney as a whole, with Penrith expected to become so in the next 15 to 20 years. Penrith is the furthest part of Sydney to still be considered 'Sydney', with the rise of the "Greater Western Sydney" name, and is the last major suburb of Sydney one encounters before entering the Blue Mountains region. Penrith roughly matches Sutherland in its white-majority demographics except for being nowhere near a beach. Blacktown and Penrith contain most of the lower-middle class 'bogan' population of the city. Between Blacktown and Penrith are Mount Druitt, Rooty Hill and Doonside, suburbs with a such a poor reputation even compared to Blacktown and Penrith that SBS created a documentary called Struggle Street to showcase the plight of this area (and not in a wholly sympathetic way either). These areas are also "swing seats": marginal electoral divisions with volatile party affiliations, and thus receiving much campaign time, much like an American "Bellwether State".
- If not included in the above region, Windsor and Richmond are to the north of Blacktown and Penrith respectively. Founded within the first 10 years of European settlement in Australia, both towns originally were farming regions taking advantage of the Hawkebury River for its fertile floodplains and ease of transport; even now, it is still a market garden area. Home to RAAF Base Richmond, where Australia's C130 and C17 military transports are based. Of note, this area was the last in the Sydney Basin to get electrified railway service and still doesn't have its own motorway.
- Macarthur (it's main suburb being Campbelltown) is the last major sub-region, being further South West than the rest of the city, it is still something of a Satellite City. Mostly unremarkable, it contains a variety of nationalities, although not to the extent of South West Sydney, in mostly generic middle class housing. It also contains a lot of open rural land due to it being a borderline country area. Nearby is the Holworthy Barracks (used for artillery training) and Macquarie Fields, another area locally considered to be the Wrong Side of the Tracks due to its high crime rate, unemployment and history of riots. Soccer fans know it as the home of Macarthur FC, one of the A-League's newer clubs and the reigning Australia Cup champions.
- Perhaps one of the world's best examples of Arcadia and Ghibli Hills can be found in this region. A drive on the A9 highway from Richmond or Windsor to Campbelltown (except for Penrith which is halfway between these two regions) takes you through picturesque scenery like forests with Kangaroos, country towns that don't look they're only 50km from Sydney CBD◊, green rolling hills, paddocks with dairy cows and the constant backdrop of the Blue Mountains◊, in fact, it looks exactly like a children's picture book. It is precisely in this area that the airport in Badgerys Creek is to be built after literally decades of Development Hell.
- The Inner-West, a trendy area west of the CBD composed of many suburbs which border the city. The centrepiece of the inner-west is undoubtedly Newtown, a hub for hipsters, goths, emos, lovers of vintage Retraux aesthetics, tattooed Badass Biker s, LGBTQIAP+ people and other alternative subcultures. It is also famed for its culture and its nightlifeNote , as well as a political culture shaped by bourgeois bohemians and granola girls.
- Canterbury-Bankstown is the area which borders the Inner-West, St George and the South West of Sydney. It is mainly a residential and industrial area with many business owned by Asian and Middle-Eastern migrants.
- An area between Parramatta, Canterbury-Bankstown and the Inner West is where Sydney's Olympic Park is located. Despite being located atop a former clay mine, abattoir and landfill and near the munitions stockpile at the Newington Armory, the 2000 Sydney Olympics attracted worldwide praise for its smooth operation, lack of bad consequences (such as what happened to Montreal and Athens ) and successful utilisation of Olympic facilities after the games. However, due to it's proximity to industrial areas, Silverwater Jail and a large oil refinery, the area has a slight reputation as a polluted Wasteland. On the other hand, this area also has diverse shopping opportunities at Flemington Markets, Direct Factory Outlets (known locally as DFO) and an IKEA.
Something else that can be talked about is the cafe culture - just about every block, whether you're in the middle of the CBD or quiet outer suburbs like Richmond or Picton, is chockfull of them, and people take the quality of their coffee dead seriously. Any place that falters in this area will suffer, and suffer fast. A combination of a mobile population and Greek/Italian migration means that Sydney is a city of coffee snobs, and it's one of the few qualities that Sydneysiders and Melburnians will admit to sharing. Another thing Sydneysiders go nuts over is the HSP, or Halal Snack Pack, the pride and joy of the western suburbs. A product of Middle Eastern migrants, HSPs are a mix of chips (the fried kind to any Brits or Americans reading this) seasoned with chicken salt (plain salt is looked down upon), kebab meat (a choice of beef, chicken, lamb, or a mix of whatever's available), and a slathering of sauce (you also get a choice in this, though the 'Holy Trinity' of BBQ sauce, aioli and hot sauce is preferred. Any choice is fine, unless you simply pick tomato sauce, in which case, bad idea. Don't even think about having it with salad, either; who on earth are you trying to fool?). Cheese is also a recommended addition. All in all, it's big, fattening, and absolutely delicious.
Melbourne and Sydney have long had a rivalry over which city is better, with Melbourne usually claiming cultural supremacy while Sydney claims the crown for economic and political reasons. The two cities have a sporting rivalry in Association Football (The two cities otherwise tend to mainly support the other two codes of Football dominant within their states.). To add to the rivalry, these two cities were the first two in the Southern Hemisphere to host the Olympics, Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000. But then again, Melbourne has less scenery porn in its area than Sydney.
Sydney in media
- Mobile Suit Gundam and the many sequels. Sydney was destroyed in a Colony Drop. It appears in Stardust Memories as a giant bay, an extension of the Pacific Ocean.
- Even if the location is not visited or mentioned directly many of the alternate universes such as Iron Blooded Orphans will show Australia with a large circular bay roughly centred on Sydney in homage to the Universal Century event.
- Silent Möbius shows the Sydney Opera House in the first episode to make it clear that the supernatural phenomenon occurring is global.
- Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo has a scene where the characters travel to 'Sydney, Australia', in which everything is written in Japanese, and all the Sydneysiders are kangaroos or koalas.
- The first episode of Lupin III: Part II has Jigen living in Sydney, and the city itself features in the episode "The Vanishing Special Armored Car/Lion, Cheatin' and Stealin'".
- Rin lived somwhere in the Sydney area in Free! and returns to visit along with Haruka in episode 12 of the second season. There was a lot of research done to ensure that the settings & locations are accurate, which includes the side of a bus that's seen on screen for 5 seconds having accurate advertising.
- There is a minor research failure though as Rin and Haru, both male, end up in a hotel room with a single large bed and blame it on Rin having a girls name. Firstly, very few people in Australia would have an idea about what gender either of their names are due to how uncommon Japanese immigration to Australia is. Secondly, all hotels in Australia are booked specifically by what type of bed it has, and Rin would have been shown exactly what type of bed the room had when he booked it.
- For a period in the late '80s the X-Men went further underground than usual and operated out of a hidden base in the outback (requisitioned from a band of cyborg Road Warrior rejects) with the aid of a mysterious Magical Indigenous Australian teleporter. This was one of the few places where they mixed up both Sydney and the outback. (Odd, considering Chris Claremont has been to Sydney.)
- When Young Justice visited the Sydney Olympics, there were kangaroos bounding through the Olympic Village (which was seemingly situated on the side of a cliff within easy eyeshot of Sydney Harbour).
- In Y: The Last Man, post-Gendercide Australia has become the single most powerful navy in the world, based on having the only female piloted submarines, and the entirety of Sydney has become a heroin addicted slum from south-east Asian pirates smuggling drugs into the country.
- The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert opens in Sydney.
- Finding Nemo: "P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney. OH! I REMEMBERED IT!"
- Godzilla: Final Wars - Godzilla Completely PWNS Zilla on the Opera House! In under TEN SECONDS!!!
- Apparently the film's director studied in Australia, and included this scene as a Shout-Out.
- He Died With a Felafel in His Hand - the third and final portion of the film is set in Sydney. It's where the incident mentioned in the title takes place.
- Kangaroo Jack
- The Last Wave
- Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome - a brief shot of Sydney in smouldering ruins can be seen.
- The Matrix - while not meant to be set in Sydney, is unmistakably recognisable. You can see the Harbour Bridge in one shot.
- Mission: Impossible II
- Muriel's Wedding: The "City of Brides"
- Out Of The Body
- Pacific Rim had a short conflict between Mutavore and Striker Eureka. The Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are clearly visible when the Kaiju busts through the Coastal Wall.
- In Pacific Rim: Uprising, the PPDC council meeting attacked by the Obsidian Fury takes place in the Sydney CBD, with the black mech stepping out of Sydney Harbour right onto where the ferry docks of Circular Quay are today.
- Strictly Ballroom
- They're a Weird Mob
- Young Einstein
- The Inbetweeners 2 lets the audience know that the trip around Australia begins in Sydney by showing the Opera House.
- The Power Rangers film that came out in the 90s was shot around the Sydney CBD. The usual landmarks of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge were eschewed in favour of the Centrepoint Tower.
- Looking for Alibrandi features a teenage girl's urban life in Sydney.
- Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park
- Puberty Blues
- Taronga by Victor Kelleher. Guess where.
- Underdog series by Markus Zusak is set around Sydney's east-southeast, and The Book Thief contains a mention of Glebe at the end of the book.
- Cleverman - set in a near-future Dystopia where Redfern has been converted into "the Zone", a walled-off district patrolled by the military where the "Hairypeople" have been segregated.
- Dance Academy - a lot of it is set in or around the Sydney Opera House.
- The Girl from Tomorrow - set in present-day and future Sydney. Notable for featuring a Bad Future Sydney recognisable by a ruined Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
- Hey Dad..! - set in the northern suburb of Chatswood.
- Lost had a number of flashbacks set there. (Especially since most of the main characters had wound up in Australia, and taken the plane, bound for Los Angeles, that crashed on the island.) In one flashback, we see the skyline—complete with the Sydney Opera House—in the distance (courtesy of CGI).
- My Place is a historical childrens' program that starts in modern Sydney, but also features the Sydney site before the actual city was built.
- Pizza is a comedy about working-class Sydneysiders. Its successors Swift & Shift Couriers and Housos follow the same style. These series take place deep in South Western Sydney, far away from the bright lights of the CBD or the high priced coastal regions.
- Sweet and Sour tells the story of an obscure Sydney band in the mid-Eighties.
- Tomica Hero Rescue Fire Episode 37 one of the battles is set in Sydney. Super Jet Falcon and Gaia Leon did the Final Rescue.
- The second series of Underbelly, based on real life crime series, has half the series set in Sydney, while the third series, The Golden Mile is directly set in Sydney and is about the Kings Cross area of the Inner West.
- The mockumentary sitcom The Games explored the misadventures of an organising committee for the 2000 Summer Olympics.
- Here Come The Habibs is set on a rich suburb on Sydney Harbour. It is a satire of culture shock between old money WASPs with the noveau riche ethnic minority family who moved in next door.
- Crownies is largely set in Sydney's CBD. Its spinoff Janet King has its first series set in the same area, before moving into the western suburbs. This transition led to major storylines revolving less around corrupt officials and more towards gang violence.
- A Moody Christmas is set in the Ryde suburbs, with few location changes outside of some opening shots in London and the airport. Its sequel series The Moodys roams the Sydney area much more.
- One episode of the children's series Playschool in the early 90s follows the presenters as they visit Sydney's Taronga Zoo.
- The Australian special of Modern Family is largely set in Sydney, with the ending montage showing a trip to the Great Barrier Reef later on.
- The Bondi Vet reality TV franchise, consisting of the original series and Bondi Vet: Coast to Coast, started out following the lives of veterinarians in two different Sydney neighbourhoods. The latter series also features vets in other parts of the country.
- Musical groups originating in Sydney include:
- Although not from Sydney, Cold Chisel spent most of their career living there, and the city appears prominently in the lyrics and clips of many songs from their last two albums.
- The music video for Blur's M.O.R. was filmed on-location in Sydney, and depicted the band members as stuntmen (or bandits).
- Delta Goodrem is from Baulkham Hills is Sydney’s north-west.
- One of the scenes in the music video for Phil Collins' Take Me Home features him in Sydney with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in the background.
- The music videos for Elton John's "Blue Eyes" and "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" were filmed on-location near Sydney Harbour.
- David Bowie filmed the music videos for two songs from the album "Modern Love" in Sydney in early 1983. "Let's Dance" includes scenes in the Queen Victoria Building in the CBD and one near the end looking back into the City towards the Harbour Bridge & Opera House. "China Girl" has scenes at Long Reef Beach in the Northern Suburbs and unsurprisingly, in Sydney's Chinatown district. He also filed the Glass Spider tour video at a performance in Sydney.
- The page quote comes from famous Australian writer Henry Lawson's poem "Sydney-side". Three guesses what it's about.
- The rpg Durance is set in a science fictional penal colony, but specifies that it is inspired by the early settlement of Sydney and provides rules and information for playing there too.
- Emerald City by David Williamson.
- Sydney receives a Shout-Out in SimCity 4: Rush Hour: one of the more common bridge types for Avenues, the Large Steel Arch, is very obviously based on the Harbour Bridge. You can also use the Opera House in the previous game.
- In Halo, Sydney is the capital of the Unified Earth Government and where United Nations Space Command headquarters is located.
- Sydney Shark, itself the sequel to the Miami-themed Miami Shark, involves you playing as a shark destroying stuff in Sydney, on top of eating dozens of people and animals.
- Purna Jackson from Dead Island would probably have an Underbelly series based on her before the events in Banoi.. Cowgirl Cop. Dealing with sexism, racism, and police corruption in Sydney. Definitely a Collingwood supporter.
- In 2021, a track based on Sydney called Sydney Sprint was added to Mario Kart Tour. The following year, the track was added to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
- Community Channel is created and filmed in Sydney. The channel description includes: If you lived in Sydney, you'd hate cityrail too.
- Superwog. While its humour is applicable to many parts of Australia, was created and filmed in Sydney.
- The Ship Song Project, a YouTube music video initiative of the Sydney Opera House.
- The Free Hugs original is filmed around the Pitt Street Mall, with brief stops at Martin Place, Town Hall, and Darling Harbour. (This is all in a radius of about 20 city blocks).
- In the G.I. Joe universe, Cobra operative Major Bludd is from Sydney, and once served with the Australian SAS.
- It held the 2000 Olympics, said by the head of the IOC in the closing ceremony to be the "Best Olympics Ever" before Kanye West turned that into a meme.