The handsome stone Sydney Observatory building with its distinctive copper telescope domes is set in gardens atop Observatory Hill. It overlooks parkland and glorious Sydney Harbour – a natural oasis not far from the centre of the city. It is only a few minutes walk from most of the highlights of the historic and charming Rocks precinct: craft centres, cobbled laneways, stone cottages, cosy cafes and characterful pubs.

This overview serves to familiarise you with the site, buildings, history, scientific importance and themes of Sydney Observatory. We also hope to whet your appetite so you will want to visit our lovely Obs – in which case please head on over to the Planning your visit section of our website.

From our beginnings in 1858 as a centre of scientific research for the colony of New South Wales, Sydney Observatory is now a museum and educational centre.

Our exhibits and programs reflect the rich history of the site and of Sydney Observatory as an astronomical observatory, timekeeper, signal station and meteorology centre. Recent archaeological excavations have provided insight into the use of Fort Phillip at the site (next to the Signal Station), and archaeological programs are increasingly also being offered at Sydney Observatory to cover this part of its fascinating history.

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The exhibits and programs provided by Sydney Observatory cover themes that reflect the fascinating history of this important site:

- Astronomy
- Meteorology
- Timekeeping
- Archaeology

Download and print the free self-guided scientific-themed walking tour around the Rocks and Sydney. The walk duration is approximately 60-90 minutes.