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SubSection MarkerSydney Customs House

Sydney Customs House - 45 Alfred Street, Sydney

A symbolic reminder of the First Fleet landing and the importance of Circular Quay as the original maritime centre for the colony.


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Sydney Customs House occupies the presumed site of the First Fleet landing and flag-raising – marking the foundation of the colony of New South Wales. It is a symbolic reminder of European colonisation and the importance of maritime activities in the economic survival of the colony.

Customs House

Source: NSW State Heritage Inventory

1844 - Colonial architect Mortimer Lewis designed the first Customs House, a rectangular, Georgian-style building. Its basement was positioned on rock just 13 cm above sea level. images courtesy of Australian Customs Service Historical Collection, Canberra

1887 - Colonial architect James Barnet’s designs involved partially demolishing the original building and reconstructing it as a three-storey Italianate classical palazzo

Customs House, Circular Quay, c.1900

1901 - Government architect Walter Liberty Vernon added a wing at the rear, giving the building an E-shaped plan. He designed two further storeys to Barnet’s building and changed the style to French neo-classical.

Ferry wharves, Circular Quay with Customs House in the background c.1904

Construction work at Customs House, 1909

1920 - Commonwealth works architect George Oakeshott demolished Vernon’s courtyard wing. Lifts were installed and a caretaker’s flat added as a sixth floor

1974 - Sydney Customs House is classified by the National Trust

Contemporary photos of Customs House.

The atrium of Sydney Customs House.

The first floor contains the Barnet Long Room, perfectly restored as a performance and function space.

The indoor/outdoor cafe of Customs House

With views of Sydney Cove and the Harbour Bridge, this international style restaurant offers indoor and outdoor dining, a long bar and innovative show kitchen.

City Exhibition Space on the fourth floor is an interactive exhibition based on Sydney's development.

The Object Gallery showcases innovative contemporary craft, design and 3D art through its galleries, stores and quarterly magazine.

The Object Gallery store

Contemporary glasswork exhibition at Object Gallery

Contemporary metalwork from the Object Gallery

Contemporary glasswork exhibition at Object Gallery

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