Sydney Town Hall
Why go there
As early as 1813 Governor Lachlan Macquarie floated the idea of a town hall for Sydney but it wasn’t for another 40 odd years before it began to take shape. Almost 70 years later in 1889 Sydney Town Hall opened to much fanfare. Constructed of honey-coloured sandstone quarried from nearby Pyrmont, the building is a visually striking mix of French Second Empire (Napoleon III) architecture and ancient Greek and Roman influences. However, the building stands on what was Sydney’s first official cemetery, in use between 1793 and 1820, and this adds a significant layer of interest to tours of the magnificently decorated building.
The Sydney Town Hall contains an incredible history of the colony and development of Sydney as a city. The building comprises a series of rooms which will draw the breath of most visitors:
- The sheer opulence of The Vestibule,
- Centennial Hall for its majesty of scale,
- The grandeur of the Grand Organ,
- A tour where you’ll learn of the site’s history as a burial ground.
Access for all
The City of Sydney website access page contains information for the prospective visitor:
The formal entry into the Town Hall is a sandstone stairway from George St. An additional entry to the Lower Town Hall is around the corner in Druitt St. Level access is available into this part of the building. A door bell is located to the right of the door. However, if you have an access need and book a tour, it will commence from this point and the doors will be open. A modern lift equipped with tactile buttons and audio floor announcement conveys visitors between the three levels.
If you come to the Town Hall for a performance or event, you will find the George Street entrance Ticket Booths are fitted with a hearing loop and both The Centennial Hall (including Gallery level) and the Lower Town Hall are fitted with a Hearing loop system. Accessible toilets are located on Ground Floor and Level One.
Any queries regarding access can be directed to 02 9265 9282.
Tours and programs
Public tours are generally held after the free advertised public organ concerts held four times a year and ‘spot’ tours during January and February. Check the website or call the Town Hall for details.
Tours of Sydney Town Hall are also conducted by Friends of the Town Hall on request. These tours commence at 10.30am and last up to two hours depending on the availability of access to rooms. The Town Hall is an historic but still working building where individual rooms can be required at short notice, either council work or hire by the public.
Several on-line virtual tours (still images, audio and video) of the Town Hall are available at:
Eating and shopping
There is no café or gift shop inside the Sydney Town Hall, however directly across Druitt St.,is an array of shops and cafes. However, don’t miss the opportunity of acquiring a book documenting the history and features of the Sydney Town Hall from the Friends!
How to get there
Buses travelling along George St stop outside the Queen Victoria Building (QVB), directly across Druitt St. Town Hall Station lies under Town Hall and QVB with an accessible lift upto George St.
Bike parking facilities are available on both the Druitt Street forecourt and the Sydney Square side of the building. Maps of cycle ways are available on the City of Sydney website:
There is no specific Town Hall parking. Commercial car parking is available in the underground Queen Victoria Building opposite.
To view the map, you need Adobe Reader
Interactive map: http://maps.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/accessibility-map/