Sydney’s Sensational Circular Quay

On Sunday morning, May 1st,  we walked two blocks down Hunter St. to George St., Sydney’s main street, and then turned right and walked seven more blocks to Circular Quay. I have to admit our first impressions were slightly negative. First of all, we discovered that the quay is not circular at all but more like the shape of a “U.” Later I discovered that the original name was “semicircular quay” which is closer to its exact shape but I guess was too many syllables  and so over the years the name was shortened to “circular.” But you can’t help but notice that an elevated motorway bisects most of the quay, hiding the view of the other side. It reminded me of the infamous Embarcadero Freeway back home in San Francisco which was torn down in 1991 after decades of protests that the monstrosity blocked everyone’s view. Then a big earthquake in 1989 severely damaged the freeway and it was closed down. After a week or so everyone noticed that there were no traffic problems whatsoever, thus eliminating the main argument from the freeway supporters that tearing down the freeway would cause gridlock.

Sydney’s version of our Embarcadero Freeway is called the Cahill Expressway and it includes a pedestrian walkway and a train station that overlooks the middle of the quay. A line of trees along Alfred Street partially hides the view of the expressway. And there are flowers and fountains and benches on an extended sidewalk.  We had a small brunch at one of the many outdoor cafes on this side of the quay and then walked under the expressway to the other side and voila!

The quay is full of gardens and walkways and shops and twice an many cafes / restaurants on the water side of the expressway. Buskers galore were spread out every few yards sending out all kinds of music. And people everywhere were just walking around or sitting around listening to the music. Or looking at the view. And what a view!

Arguably the world’s most beautiful building built in the 20th century dominates Bennelong Point,  the tip of a tiny peninsula on the right side of the quay. It’s called the Sydney Opera House and I took about a hundred pictures, most of which probably look just like those taken by millions of other tourists every year. But I managed to take a few shots in my own style, too.

Then I looked over to the left side of the quay past the Overseas Passenger Terminal and a  section of the city known as The Rocks and there stood the city’s other piece of architectural splendor, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, known to locals as “The Coathanger.” So I took another hundred shots. In between these two architectural icons the quay serves as the city’s main ferry terminal and there are a variety of seacraft ranging from tall sailing ships to jetboats that are available for harbor cruises. There goes another hundred shots!
Don’t worry: I won’t show you all 300 photos — just some of my favorite shots I took that day.

Alfred Street

Alfred St. fountain near the expressway

Sightseeing buses line up on Alfred St. near the expressway.

Walking under the expressway

Still in the shadow of the expressway

An Aborigine and his digeridoo

Walking toward Circular Quay West and the bridge

A million tourists take this shot every year.

Me among the millions

Looking back at the city's skyline from Circular Quay West

The Overseas Passenger Terminal. Super cruise ships can't fit under the bridge and have to berth at Circular Quay.

a long line of outdoor restaurants

I walked all the way to the bridge.

You stare at the bridge in front of you and then turn to the right and there's the Opera House.

Dawes Point Park is a popular spot for wedding pictures.

The Rocks -- Sydney's oldest district

Back to Circular Quay West

A jet boat excursion

More buskers -- these guys were singing Latin America songs in Spanish!

My final Circular Quay shot -- then back to the expressway

A very pleasant way to spend a few hours on a sunny Sydney Sunday!

About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in Gallery, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sydney’s Sensational Circular Quay

  1. Valentine says:

    I love the ‘film effect’ on some of these shots. beautiful.

  2. Pingback: Australia Redux | Crow Canyon Journal

  3. mvschulze says:

    Unique detail-scape of a cityscape we’ve all grown to know.

  4. Anj says:

    I’m a Sydney-sider currently visiting San Francisco. I just finished a walking tour of the Ferry Building and couldn’t help by see a parallel between the Cahill Expressway and the (now gone) Embarcadero Freeway. I mentioned this to the guide and he didn’t seem to agree, so I decided to Google and your site came up 🙂

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