Where stories live 

A cultural precinct awaiting discovery, laneways begging to be wandered, historic stories waiting to be told, and new stories waiting to be written. Quay Quarter is more than a place, it’s an experience - where culture and identity are celebrated at every turn. 
Amongst this constellation of cultural experiences, Quay Quarter invites the culturally-curious to uncover art and historical spaces that pay homage to the sites’ storied past and vibrant future.


The Aboriginal people had occupied the harbour area and its islands for thousands of years. The traditional owners of the Sydney city region are the Gadigal (Cadi, Cadigal) people of the Darug language group that extended across to the north shore and west to the Cumberland Plain and into the Blue Mountains. The Gadigal people to refer to the central Sydney area as ‘Eora Country’.
There is evidence to suggest that Sydney Cove and the land in the vicinity of the Quay Quarter precinct may have been sacred and culturally significant, specifically managed to both preserve and encourage the growth of particular plant species. Given this potential significance, it is likely that it was a locus of ceremonial and social activity/gatherings for local Aboriginal people in the past.

Image: c.1796 Thomas Watling, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales


The First Government House was built in Sydney Cove soon after the arrival of the First Fleet. In a plan of the Governor’s Domain dated 1816, today’s Quay Quarter site is shown within a “Pleasure Ground” located between First Government House and the shore. When a new government house was created in the early 1840s, the former grounds were subdivided.
The creation of Semi-Circular Quay between 1839 and 1847 enabled the construction of many new buildings relating the transport of goods by ship, including Customs House nearby.

Image source: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales


By 1870, large, purpose-built wool stores were built – many of them being striking monuments of the rapid increase in
the production and export of wool.
Today, the only buildings surviving in the Quay Quarter precinct from the 19th century are the Gallipoli Memorial Club building on Loftus Street and the former Hinchcliff Woolstore on Young Street.
The heritage restoration of these significant heritage buildings has been an important part of the Quay Quarter deelopment, with the vision of providing a rich, story-filled canvas for contemporary uses.

Image: Hinchcliff House former wool store, 5-7 Young Street Sydney, post-refurbishment, 2021 (Image: The Moment it Clicks).


Public art in the new Quay Quarter Lanes area – by the hand of esteemed Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones – depicts the story of Aboriginal man Arabanoo—who was central to the first engagement with the European people. The art works are currently underway, and will be revealed in 2021.
Today Sydney’s Circular Quay foreshore is a wonderland of cultural expression, exploration and enlightenment.  From international exhibitions at the MCA, to visiting Museum of Sydney on the site of Australia’s First Government House, meandering to the Sydney Opera House for an evening of music, and admiring masters at the Art Gallery of NSW or exploring  the Royal Botanic Gardens –  the foreshore’s cultural credentials are undeniable and rich.
Amongst this constellation of cultural experiences, Quay Quarter invites the culturally-curious to uncover art and historical spaces that pay homage to the sites’ storied past and vibrant future.


An iconic example of postwar internationalist architecture style completed in 1962, 33 Alfred Street is historically and aesthetically significant as the first skyscraper in Sydney, that is said to have paved the way for the development of tall office towers in the city.
  This “jewel” is starting a new chapter as extensive revitalisation and restoration works are planned for 2022-2024.  With its exquisite marble, granite and glass facades, sculptures and modernist detailing, it is an enduring symbol of Sydney’s economic ambitions – and architectural prowess. 

Image source: AMP image archive