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Sydney Sights

Observatory Hill

  • Upper Fort St. Map It
  • The Rocks
  • Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

Updated 01/15/2014

Fodor's Review

The city's highest point, at 145 feet, was known originally as Windmill Hill, since the colony's first windmill occupied this breezy spot. Its purpose was to grind grain for flour, but soon after it was built the canvas sails were stolen, the machinery was damaged in a storm, and the foundations cracked. The signal station at the top of the hill was built in 1848. This later became an astronomical observatory. This is a great place for a picnic with a view.

Sight Information


Upper Fort St., Sydney, New South Wales, 2000, Australia

Map It

Updated 01/15/2014


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Apr 6, 2007

An Old Fashioned Experience

I've seen many observatories and planetariums, but none that quite compare to this one. It's a VERY old building on the top of a hill overlooking Sydney Harbor (breathtaking views in a quiet park setting) and very small. It takes you back to when it was used soon after Captain Phillips arrived with the First Fleet of convicts. I was concerned when I went into the planetarium show and saw about 30 wooden chairs facing a small movie screen next to

a lectern. To my surprise, the guide gave us all 3-D glasses and we watched two short animation cartoons that were excellently done and entertaining! Then we went up into the tiny observatory dome to take a look through 3 foot long telescope at the people on the top of the Harbor Bridge. All this must sound boring and old fashioned but the experience was one I wouldn't want anyone to miss. It gives a real up close and personal view of what astronomy was and is like on a personal level, not just what you see behind glass or watch the "experts" do. Except for the ease (very difficult) in getting to it on foot, I would give this a much better rating. Dr. Ken Rich

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