Victorian and Federation Sydney - Sydney CBD Walking Tour

The story of the founding of colonial Sydney is well known, but what is less well known is the Victorian and Federation period, where the city we know today really took shape. Between 1850 and 1900 the population of Sydney increased eight-fold, and became, for a time, the 15th biggest city in the world. This tour covers some of the most beautiful and ornate buildings in Sydney. Our walk entails some standing, but does commence with a talk over coffee so moderate fitness is recommended. Meet at Downing Centre, 143-147 Liverpool Street 10 minutes before the tour starts so it can commence on time.

This walk will go ahead whatever the weather, except where the guide deems there to be a threat to health and safety. In this situation you will be contacted with an alternative date. Please ensure your mobile phone number is up-to-date with WEA before enrolling and ensure that you have it with you on the day in case the tutor needs to contact you.


  • Face-to-Face


The route of the tour will be confirmed on the day, but will start at Liverpool St and wind its way to Circular Quay. Some of the buildings the tour will likely visit are:

  • Mark Foy’s Department Store
  • St Andrews Church
  • Town Hall
  • Queen Victoria Building
  • Great Synagogue
  • Dymock’s Building
  • Strand Arcade
  • GPO
  • Societe Generale Office
  • Chullwalla Chambers
  • Sydney Hospital
  • Wyoming Building
  • Burns Philp House
  • Customs House


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the main features of Australian commercial architecture styles over the period, such as Italianate, Gothic Revival, American Romanesque and French.
  2. Understand the various forces – economic, social, technological and political – that shaped Sydney’s urban development and architecture over the period.
  3. Recognise and describe a number of key Sydney CBD buildings from the 1850s to 1914.

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