English Across the Curriculum

Discover Australia

Australian Cities


Sydney is Australia's oldest and largest city, home to about 5.3 million people. It is Australia's most important industrial city and the capital of New South Wales . Sydney’s harbour is one of the most beautiful in the world. Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are among the famous tourist attractions.

Sydney was , at first, a prison colony back in 1788. At that time, many nations sent criminals to faraway places. The first prisoners were farmers and started raising sheep. In 1848 Great Britain stopped sending prisoners to Australia and a few years later gold was discovered . Sydney started to grow very quickly. By 1890, the population was about 400,000. During the 20th century many European immigrants arrived and turned Sydney into a multi-cultural city.

The people of Sydney are called Sydneysiders. About 70 % were born in Australia but in the last few decades many Asians have come to Sydney.

Downtown Sydney has many skyscrapers and office buildings, but there are also many historic buildings and parks , in which Sydneysiders can spend their free time. Many people like outdoor activities because the city has a mild climate. Sydney offers its people long beaches that attract swimmers, surfers and sunbathers .

Sydney Skyline
Image:Beau Giles, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Melbourne is Australia's second largest city with a population of 4.8 million. Situated around Port Phillip Bay the city is the capital and commercial centre of Victoria. Melbourne is a multicultural city . More than a third of its inhabitants arrived as immigrants from overseas. Melbourne is the home of famous art galleries, museums and festivals. Sport events take place on a regular basis. Among the most popular are the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Australian Open Tennis Championship and the Melbourne Cup, an annual horse race. In 1956 the city hosted the Olympic Summer Games.

Melbourne was founded as a permanent settlement in 1835 and was declared a city in 1847. When gold was discovered in the 1850s, Melbourne's rise as the centre of southern Australia started. It soon became Australia's largest city but was eventually overtaken by Sydney. When Australia became independent in 1901 , Melbourne became the temporary capital until Canberra was completed.

Skyline of Melbourne
Image: Gracchus250, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Canberra , with a population of about 300,000 is Australia's capital . The city is built around many hills. A dam on the Mongolo River forms Lake Burley Griffen in the middle of the city.

Australia’s parliament meets at Canberra. Many government buildings and other offices are situated here too. About half of the city’s people work for the government. Others work in smaller industries, trade and tourism.

When Australia became independent in 1901, the new government started looking for a place to build the capital city. In 1913 construction began and in 1927 Canberra became Australia’s capital.

Parliament House in Canberra

Image: John O'Neill , GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.2


Brisbane, on Australia's eastern coast, is the capital of Queensland and with a population of 2.5 million, Australia's third largest city. It got its name from the river that flows through it.In its early days some of the first prisoners were transferred there from Sydney.

Today the city profits from its moderate climate all year long and is an attraction for people seeking outdoor activities. Although it does not lie directly on the coast, wonderful beaches are only a few kilometres away.

Skyline of Brisbane

Image: Kgbo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Perth is the largest city in western Australia, and , with a population of 2 million, Australia's fourth largest city. Because it is thousands of km away from other major cities, Perth is one of the most isolated in the world.

The city became important during Australia's gold rush towards the end of the 20th century. As time went on, western Australia turned out to be rich in minerals. Since World War II, Perth has become the headquarters for major mining companies.

Image: Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Perth (AU), View from Kings Park -- 2019 -- 0435-42” / CC BY-SA 4.0


Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and with 1 million inhabitants, Australia's fifth most populous city. Founded in 1936, Adelaide is the only city in Australia that was made for free settlers and not for British prisoners.

Today is a multicultural city, often regarded as the food, wine and festival capital of Australia. It also offers parks, beaches and nearby hills for various outdoor activities .

Image:Trentino Priori, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Australian Cities
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Australia_location_map.svg