10 ways to step back in time this Heritage Festival

Immerse yourself in a world of curiosity until 31 May.

Explore these talks, activities and historical walks that will spirit you back in time to a different era for Heritage Festival 2022.

1. Sydney Barani website

The Sydney Barani website showcases the history and culture of Aboriginal Sydney, from first contact to today’s living culture. The website is a rich guide to Sydney’s Aboriginal history, featuring important sites across the city that reveal these histories, cultures and associations. Barani is an Aboriginal word of the Sydney language that means ‘yesterday’.

Artwork Wuganmagulya (Farm Cove) by Brenda Croft. Photograph by Jamie Williams Photography

2. History walk: Barani Sydney Cove / Warrane

Download our Sydney Culture Walks app and take a step back in time. The tour Barani Sydney Cove / Warrane covers Sydney’s major tourist precinct, exploring sites of cultural significance and artistic expression for Aboriginal people. Come away with a newfound appreciation for Australia’s untold roots on Gadigal land.

Bennelong Point viewed from Dawes Point in c.1804. Courtesy State Library NSW, V1/1810/1

3. Citizen history: Voices from the past

It is said there is no better way to learn about the future, than hearing stories from the past. This oral collection series showcases the City of Sydney’s collection as a valuable resource for everyone.

Tuesday 12 April from 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Tuesday 19 April from 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Neighbours chatting in Glebe, 1999. City of Sydney Archives, A-00022463

4. Constructing Town Hall House

It’s one of the most iconic buildings in the heart of Sydney considered unattractive by some and important by others. Presented in Town Hall House, this talk will take the audience through the building’s architectural inspiration and some of its most interesting aspects. There will be opportunity to view the recently unearthed original architectural scale model of the building.

Tuesday 26 April from 1pm to 2pm

Model of Town Hall House, Sydney Square, Sydney Town Hall and St Andrew's Cathedral by modelmakers Porter Models to a design by Ken Woolley of Ancher, Mortlock and Woolley for the City of Sydney Council, 1972. City of Sydney Civic Collection 2017.026.001. Image by William Newell

5. Child’s Play: playgrounds in Sydney in the 20th century

Providing playgrounds in the city was a uniquely 20th century phenomenon that reflected changing understandings of children and their place in urban life. Originally designed to get children off busy streets, they also provided a chance for kids to play and discover. The discussion will look at how children occupied Sydney's urban spaces in the 20th century, with a focus on the introduction of supervised children's playgrounds in the inner city from the 1930s.

Tuesday 3 May from 1pm to 2pm

Children at Camperdown Park Children's Playground, Australia Street Camperdown, 1938. City of Sydney Archives, A-00015464

6. Curiosities and treasures in the City of Sydney archives

Enjoy a tour of curiosities and treasures from our archives, and learn how best to use them to make your own surprising discoveries.

Wednesday 18 May from 1pm to 2pm

Demolition Books, volume 6, 1911-1912. City of Sydney Archives, A-01136432

7. See Sydney as a Tourist in 1905

Make a day of it by visiting the historic Customs House. Start by going back in time to 1905. Sydney is in the grip of the bubonic plague but that hasn’t daunted the curiosity of travellers keen to explore our beautiful harbour city. Reflecting on the last 2 years, in the grip of a pandemic, this timely event is not one to be missed.

Customs House
Saturday 21 May from 11am to 12pm

Bird's eye view map of Sydney, Oceanic Steamship Company: John Andrew & Co. 1905. State Library of NSW, Z/M3 811.17/1905/2

8. Developing Sydney: capturing change 1900-1920

Continue your journey back in time, and take in the Developing Sydney exhibition on Levels 1 and 2 of Customs House. These photographs document the first 2 decades of the 20th century, and the city’s profound transformation.

Customs House
Weekdays, 10am to 6pm
Weekends, 11am to 4pm

Adjoining shops at 247A and 247B Pitt Street, c.1912. City of Sydney Archives, A-01000362

9. Capturing Change: photography and the modern city

Grab a bite to eat in one of the many cafes around the historic Customs House as you continue to immerse yourself in history. Join us for an afternoon talk that will discuss images showcased in the Developing Sydney' exhibition and compare them with other contemporaneous photographs that show Sydney’s transition to a modern city.

Here is the photographer, his shadow caught in the act, capturing the Victoria Inn on the busy intersection of Flinders, Bourke and Oxford streets in July 1907. City of Sydney Archives, A-01000284

Customs House
Saturday 21 May from 2pm to 3pm

10. The City of Forking Paths: a twilight video walk

As the sun sets over the harbour, end your day by exploring the City of Forking Paths, a fictional journey through physical surrounds beginning at Customs House. Immerse yourself in the engrossing world of fact and fiction as artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller lead you on a virtual twilight video walk around The Rocks. Experienced on a smartphone or mobile device, download the app and use quality headphones.

Explore more Heritage Festival events.

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