History of Eastern Suburbs, Sydney

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The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney is the metropolitan region stretching from Sydney City all the way to the coastline, on the southern side of the harbour. This is not an official or an administrative demarcation, but rather a customary delimitation, so the area doesn’t have clearly-defined boundaries. When talking about the Eastern Suburbs, some people refer strictly to the suburbs that lie east of Sydney City and up to the Pacific Ocean, while others include suburbs located further to the south, in between Botany Bay and the coastline. 

However, one thing’s for sure – the Eastern Suburbs is one of the most popular tourist areas in Sydney, thanks to its extensive views of the Sydney Harbour and amazing sandy beaches. From the world-famous Bondi Beach and Watsons Bay to Coogee Beach, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay, Darling Point, La Perouse, or Centennial Park, there are plenty of amazing attractions here to keep any visitor entertained. 

A trip back in history 

Looking back at its history, there Eastern Suburbs have some interesting stories to tell. Once an area dominated by bush tracks and sand dunes, the Eastern Suburbs developed over time into a small paradise of beaches and bays, where Sydney’s upper-class residents flocked to build luxurious villas with stunning harbour views. 

As we go down the memory lane, after the European settlement, there are several historical events that are worth mentioning. On the 26th of January 1788, the French explorer La Perouse first landed at Yarra Bay in the area that now bears his name.

On the 22nd of February 1859 Randwick officially became the first municipality in NSW and by August 1859 the Council had already completed its first major project – the Coogee Bay Road that tied Carrington Road to Coogee Beach.

On the 26th of January 1888 the Centennial Park hosted Australia’s centenary celebrations and 13 years later, on the 1st of January 1901, the Centennial Park was chosen as the site for the proclamation of the Federal Constitution, uniting the six colonies as one Commonwealth of Australia.

The Eastern Suburbs Railway

Probably one of the most important milestones in the Eastern Suburb’s history and the event that influenced the area’s growth significantly is the construction of the Eastern Suburbs Railway, completed in 1979.

When the idea of building a railway that would reach the Eastern Suburbs first came into discussion, it was met with strong opposition. One of the reasons was the eastern suburbs’ small population – in 1871, there were only 11.000 residents living in the suburbs of Paddington, Woollahra, Waverley and Randwick.

After long discussions in the parliament, the first steps in this direction were made in 1880 when the first tramway line from Liverpool Street to Randwick Racecourse was opened. In the following years, the tramway network continued to grow, reaching Bondi Beach, Rose Bay and Watsons Bay. However, it wasn’t until 1915 that a proposal for a city and eastern suburbs railway was finally approved by the Parliament. What followed was a time-consuming and cumbersome building process that spanned over decades. Finally, the Eastern Suburbs Railway was officially opened on 23rd of June 1979, and on 25th of June, the first passenger train left Central for Bondi Junction.