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Sydney Harbour Bridge | © Lenny K Photography/Flickr
Sydney Harbour Bridge | © Lenny K Photography/Flickr
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11 Incredible Things You Never Knew About Sydney

Picture of Tom Smith
Updated: 6 October 2017
From the moment you fly into Sydney and see the harbour sparkling out the plane window, you know you’re dealing with a city of incredible beauty. But beneath the sun-drenched surface lies plenty you don’t know—including these 11 facts.

British colonisers were originally going to call the settlement New Albion.

They later changed the name to honour Lord Sydney, Tommy Townshend—a man who never actually set foot in Australia.

Sydney was the site of the only successful military coup in Australian history… which was fought over rum.

In 1808, 400 New South Wales soldiers—known as the ‘Rum Corps’ for their monopoly over the lucrative alcohol trade—arrested Governor William Bligh when he tried to clean up the corrupt rum racket, then imposed martial law over the colony.

The Arrest of Governor Bligh | © Wikimedia Commons
The Arrest of Governor Bligh | © Wikimedia Commons

Sydney’s post code is 2000, after the year in which they hosted the Olympic Games.

IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch described the Milennium Games as the “best ever”.

The Granny Smith apple was born in Sydney.

The story goes that new cultivar sprouted in the yard of Eastwood woman Maria Ann Smith in the 19th century thanks to her habit of throwing Tasmanian-grown French crab-apple cores out her kitchen window—a story that’s still celebrated every year at Eastwood’s Granny Smith Festival.

Granny Smith apples | © benjamint444_Wikimedia Commons
Granny Smith apples | © benjamint444_Wikimedia Commons

The opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 was hijacked by a sword-wielding maniac on horseback.

A right-wing paramilitary member by the name of Francis de Groot swept through the crowd and slashed the ceremonial ribbon before the assembled dignitaries had the chance.

Sydney Harbour Bridge opening | © Wikimedia Commons
Sydney Harbour Bridge opening | © Wikimedia Commons

Bondi Beach set a Guinness World Record for the largest ever swimsuit photo shoot.

This took place in 2007, when a battalion of 1,010 bikini-clad women congregated on the iconic strip of sand.

The Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, was a nightmare to build.

The architectural marvel opened its doors in 1973—a full decade after it was due to be completed—at a cost of $102 million, some 1357% over the $7m budget.

Sydney Opera House | © Geoff Stearns/Flickr
Sydney Opera House | © Geoff Stearns/Flickr

Nearly 40% of Sydneysiders were born overseas.

So it’s little wonder the city boasts phenomenal pho, primo pizza and cracking curry.

Sydney is home to a Japanese war grave.

In 1942, during World War II, a small fleet of submarines raided the harbour—the only occasion since British arrival the city has come under attack. The bombardments were repelled and the Allies recovered the scuttled subs… well, except one, which was discovered by amateur scuba divers in 2006 off the Northern Beaches, and is now protected as a war grave.

Recovered Japanese submarine in Sydney | © Hpeterswald/Wikimedia Commons
Recovered Japanese submarine in Sydney | © Hpeterswald/Wikimedia Commons

If Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the biggest gay pride parades in the world.

More than 300,000 revellers painting the town rainbow each March.

Sydney Mardi Gras | © Eva Rinaldi/Flickr
Sydney Mardi Gras | © Eva Rinaldi/Flickr

The ‘Coat Hanger’ is the world’s tallest steel arch bridge.

It is also the second widest long-span bridge, and sixth longest spanning-arch bridge, with 485,000 square metres—or 60 football fields—worth of steelwork to paint. Crocodile Dundee himself, Paul Hogan, was famously a member of the bridge painting crew before he hit Hollywood.

Sydney Harbour Bridge | © Reubentg/Wikimedia Commons
Sydney Harbour Bridge | © Reubentg/Wikimedia Commons