The area known as Sydney was inhabited for some 50,000 years by local Aborigines before the arrival of European settlers. The area, referred to as Warrane, was visited frequently by Europeans in the 17th century, and was first charted in 17709 by the famous explorer James Cook. On April 29, 1770, Cook claimed the entire east coast for King George III and named it New South Wales. For several years, no move was made by the birtihs empire to settle their new land acquisition, until the botanist on the Cook expedition, Joseph banks, decided to establish a colony, due in part to the American War of independence, which prevented the extradition of British convicts to the American colonies.
The history of modern day Sydney, and Australia as well, began on May 13, 1787, when The First Fleet, commissioned by Baron Sydney, set sail for Botany Bay on May 13, 1787. When the fleet assembled, they discovered that there was no fresh water locally available, and the fleet sailed further on to Port Jackson, now known as Sydney Harbor, where they discovered a pristine forest and a naturally occurring stream.
Penal colonies were established in the area shortly there after, and this practice continued until 1840, when the citizens of Sydney protested. Two years later, Sydney became an official city, and remained largely unpopulated and remote until ten years later, in 1852, when gold was discovered, and people from all over the world came to the area to seek their fortunes. Sydney transformed overnight from remote outpost to bustling mining town.
Modern day Sydney is full of wonders to explore, including the famous, landmark harbor, Sydneys Chinatown, and the many famous beaches that surround the area. One of Sydneys most famous museums, The Macleay, began as a small collection of insects and has since become of one of the leading natural history museums in the world. In addition to an impressive insect collection, the museum also showcases historic enthnographic material from the indigenous Australian peoples.
Another famous museum that should be a stop on anyones Australia vacation itinerary is the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Established in the memory of Australian expatrate artist John Power, this structure houses Australias most impressive collection of artifacts, art work, and historic documents. In 1989, the museum was relocated to its present day location, and today is one of the city of Sydneys most visited landmarks.
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