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State Library of NSW

Officially the oldest library in Australia, with a grand exterior to match its distinction.

TravelCurious Tip

Whether it’s too hot or too rainy, the State Library is a great choice when the elements aren’t working in your favour!

Centrally located next to the Domain and The Royal Botanic Gardens, the State Library of NSW is a perfect place to take a couple of hours rest and relaxation out of your busy sightseeing schedule. It was opened as the Australian Subscription Library in 1826, thus making it the country’s oldest library. In 1869 it was bought by the state government for the then-princely sum of £5100, and has been free for Sydneysiders and visitors alike to enjoy ever since.


The Mutiny on the Bounty, First Hand

Now, almost 200 years after it opened, the library contains over five million items, including two million books and over a million photographs. One particular highlight of the collection is the log and journal of William Bligh, captain of the HMS Bounty before its famous mutiny in 1789, after which he and his loyal men made their almost unbelievable 4,000 mile journey to Timor. Also intriguing are all six editions of The Australian Abo Call, published in 1938, which was the first newspaper printed in Australia to focus on the concerns of native Aboriginals.


A Treasure Trove of Australiana

These and many other unique items are organized in free exhibitions that are often put on by the library. You can peruse these at your leisure while taking in the gorgeous architecture of the Mitchell Library Reading Room, or enjoy a coffee in the Café Trim, which is open seven days a week. As if that weren’t enough, there are frequent film screenings in the library’s projector room, also free of charge, as well as a History and Heritage Tour every weekday at 10.30am.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Sydney
St Mary's Cathedral
Situated next to Hyde Park, St. Mary's is the most important church in Sydney - it's also the longest in Australia.
Royal Botanical Gardens
Covering almost 75 acres, Sydney's are celebrated as some of the best botanical gardens in the world.
Circular Quay
The main departure point for most of Sydney's ferries; see if you can spot the man with the didgeridoo.
Sydney Tower Eye
The tallest building in Sydney offers breathtaking 360 degree views of the city.
The Strand Arcade
This 19th century arcade is at the heart of downtown Sydney, and full of delightful boutique shops.
City Skyline
The city's iconic silhouettes are best viewed from across Darling Harbour, the North Shore or from a ferry cruise.

Related Tours

Private Half Day Highlights of Sydney with local guide
You will start your tour at Circular Quay, famed as the main departure point for the city’s many ferries and also for the didgeridoo players close-by.  

Sydney Opera House

Your guide will lead you on a short walk to what is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the city: the iconic Sydney Opera House.  Set on a spit of land jutting out into Sydney Harbour, and opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II, this centre for performing arts has won international acclaim for its style and beauty.  You will visit the outside the Sydney Opera House and take a look out at the magnificent panoramic view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Downtown Sydney

Now heading inland, your guide will take you up Macquarie Street, stopping briefly to admire the State Library of New South Wales - the oldest public library in Australia.  At the end of Macquarie you’ll be faced by the lush greenery of Hyde Park, Sydney’s equivalent to Central Park in New York or the original Hyde Park in London.  Flanking one side of park is the imposing St. Mary’s Cathedral that is the current seat of the Archbishop of Sydney.

After a quick stop in the park, you’ll move across town through one of Sydney’s oldest shopping arcades, The Strand, before heading back to circular quay down high-rise George St.  This will be the perfect opportunity for your guide tell you the story of modern Sydney and how it has grown into the metropolis you see today.

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