Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Fort Macquarie or the Opry House

Dina hasn't really mentioned seeing the Sydney Opera House when she just recently visited Australia with her husband and son. I expect she gave it a good going over on her previous visit.

The Opera House is best viewed from a distance where you can wonder at its splendour. Not one reader here would not recognise it from a picture. Truly an iconic building in the fullest sense of the word.

But what was there before the Opera House? Originally a fort, Fort Macquarie. Construction began in 1817 and the Fort was completed four years later.

In 1901 Fort Macquarie was demolished. Does this mean just post Federation that Sydney no longer felt that it might be invaded by the Colony of Victoria now that we had all become states of Australia? Work out your own theory. I like mine, no matter how implausible.

By 1902 the newly built Fort Macquarie Tram Depot opened. Maybe not as beautiful as the Opera House, but certainly very important to the people of Sydney who depended on their trams. The luxury of so much space after partly operating in the cramped area in the Bridge Street Yard must have improved the tram service immensely.

As Sydney's tram system tottered towards its forced closure, Fort Macquarie Tram Depot was demolished in 1959 to allow for the construction of the Opera House. The Opera House construction took considerably longer than the tram depot took to construct, not opening until 1973. Our big boss Lizzie cut the ribbon.

Fort Macquarie wasn't Sydney's largest depot. That honour goes to the Dowling Street Depot, now the site of the Moore Park Supa Centre. Sydney probably had just as many tram depots as Melbourne, but Dowling Street Depot was huge. Melbourne's biggest tram depot, Malvern, when the maximum number of trams were on Melbourne roads, perhaps supplied 100 trams to the system. Dowling Street ran 300 trams out of its depot. The logistics of this are mind boggling.


  1. Andrew, hello! Long time no speak. How i've missed your blog. Sorry for my tardy approach - promise to make a better effort.

    Hope all is well with you, your family and your gorgeous niece.

  2. Hello gorgeous. To be clever is one achievement. To be witty and gorgeous is better. I still look out for you at QV.

  3. I was so in love with the Opera House when we first came in 2007. I took so many photos of it. It was an ongoing joke in our little OFOTO collection. There were multiple photos of the bridge and OH.

    This year I was less interested in it. I'm not sure the whole reason why--I think part of the reason was I learned some of it's history. All the Bennelong stuff made me sad.

  4. 300?!
    Crikey Dick, that's a handful to co-ordinate!

    Don't forget there's a homeless bloke buried under there - he used to sleep in the tram shed, died (of exposure) so his mates got him cremated then buried him in the footings of the Opera House.
    He haunts the joint, apparently ;)

  5. Understand what you are saying Dina, and perhaps I should have mentioned Bennelong too.

    I didn't know about the buried bloke Jayne. Fine trivia.