In bustling Circular Quay, Customs House stands on the spot where modern Australia was founded. This is where, in 1788, the First Fleet came ashore to establish a British penal colony in a faraway land. Built in 1845 in a classically Georgian style, the building is exceptionally well preserved, and the exterior is a sight in itself. The Basics
Until 1990, Customs House served as headquarters for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Today, it is a popular meeting and gathering space. On the top floor, Café Sydney looks out over Circular Quay and is a great place for a fresh seafood meal, while the laid-back outdoor Quay Bar offers drinks and snacks. Free exhibitions are on regular display throughout the building, and the ground floor and library offer relaxed lounge areas, shared work spaces, and public-access computers.
Visits to Customs House are often included in architecture, history, and heritage-themed walking tours, which also give a sense of the European settlement of Sydney and its development into a modern city. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Customs House is a must-visit for those with an interest in Sydney’s history.
- Entrance to Customs House is free of charge.
- There is free Wi-Fi throughout the building.
- The building has ramp access and accessible elevators that reach all floors.
Customs House is in the heart of Circular Quay and close to many major hotels. It’s a 10-minute walk from Martin Place train station, 15 minutes from Town Hall train station, and five minutes from the Sydney Opera House.
When to Get There
The building is open daily. On weekdays from 8am to 12am; Saturday 10am to 12am, and Sunday 11am to 5pm. Restaurants and exhibitions keep slightly different hours, so check before you visit. City Model: Sydney at Your Feet
There’s a miniature replica of the city in a glass atrium under the first floor of the Customs House. The scale model depicts 3.9 square miles (10 square kilometers) of downtown Sydney and is upgraded yearly to reflect the ever-changing face of the city. City Model is even more striking at night when hundreds of fiber-optic lights illuminate the streets under your feet.