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Sydney (to 1995)

Sydney is a stunningly beautiful city, at least around the harbour, of 4 million people. As you can imagine, the harbour is the reason for the city’s existance.

Captain Cook sailed past in 1770 and noted it looked like a fine harbour, naming it Port Jackson. The first settlers arrived in 1788 though most of them did not come willingly. After the American revolution, England had no place to dump prisoners, so with the jails overflowing, 13 (?) ships were sent to Botany Bay where Cook landed. It was quickly realized that there was no adequete water supply so they relocated Port Jackson, the next bay to the north. The Tank Stream provided water, Port Jackson was found to be extensive with deep water and permanent settlement was established. The central business district now occupies this site.

Over the following years, more convicts were sent. The demands on the Tank Stream were too great and some people pushed west up the Parramatta River beyond the tidal zone in search of fresh water. A new settlement was established about 25 km from "downtown" and it is now roughly the geographic center of Sydney.

Free settlers started arriving in the early 1800s, initially in small numbers but it became a minor flood when gold was discovered near Bathurst in about 1850. The city’s future was assured.

Beyond the appearances though, one thing that makes Sydney special is its ethnic diversity. We have a 1998 National Geographic map which indicates that 23.4% of Australians were born outside the country (by comparison, the figure for America is 7.9%) but Sydney is above average. Although there are concentrations of national groups in different places around the city, there are no "ghettos" populated exclusively by people from a single country. The closest is Cabramatta which is dominated by Vietnamese but there are significant numbers of Laotians and Cambodians. Far from being a place that people avoid, Cabramatta draws lots of tourists looking for something interesting to eat and cheap fabric amongst other things.

We met each other when we lived in Auburn, a suburb with a working-class tradition. Indeed, the State Premier during the Depression as Jack Lang was the local member for Auburn. I believe he was famous/infamous for refusing to pay government debts to the banks saying the workers had a greater need for what little the government had.

A few years after we married, we moved to Turramurra, the name meaning "big hill" in the local aboriginal language (as with most of the country, when white settlers moved in, the aboriginies were forced out). The result is that rain-bearing clouds gain altitude as they cross Turramurra and dump their moisture giving us the highest rainfall in Sydney. We have no view but are surrounded by big trees. There are lots of birds.