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Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal c.1960 | by Sydney Heritage
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Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal c.1960

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The Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal was officially opened by the Hon. J.B Renshaw, MLA Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Lands on the 20th December 1960.


Until World War 11 passenger traffic in the Port of Sydney had stabilised at 20,000-30,000 arrivals and departures each year. Following the war a combination of high immigration, increased tourism and short cruises instigated by shipping lines lifted arrivals and departures to 160,000 in 1962. By then larger ships with associated needs for customs clearance and visitor facilities had prompted development of specialised facilities, initially at Pyrmont by the early 1950's, then at Woolloomooloo in 1956. The Board recognised this as a stop-gap measure and had already investigated Sydney Cove as the site of a third passenger terminal.


The location was ideal due to its proximity to public transport; its situation in a busling commercial centre surrounded by stately buildings and with a rich local history. A further impetus to development came when P&O - Orient Line decided to build two super liners "Oriana and "Canberra" for the Australian route.


Following extensive research and investigation to determine the most satisfactory form of construction, the Maritime Services Board commenced work on the new facility at Sydney Cove in 1958. Wharves and sheds were demolished and a seawall was constructed using reinforced concrete cassions to enclose solid fill reclamation. This method had the advantages of being cheap, easy to construct and practically free of maintenance problems. The wall was 720 feet long. Behind a 40 foot apron the building extended 625 feet north-south and was 111 feet wide. The ground floor was taken up with cargo handling and the first floor catered for passengers and customs facilities.


The new terminal was opened on 20 December 1960 and 10 days later the "Oriana" on her maiden voyage berthed at the terminal. Over the next two decades the terminal was the arrival point of many newcomers to Australia and as such played an important role in the history of Australia of which the contribution of migrants to Australian life is a large part. However by the 1980's the price of air travel had dropped to a point where it became an affordable option for the majority of travellers. Thus by 1983 when an ideas competition was run to gather suggestions for re-use of the terminal it was suggested that up to one third of the terminal was obsolete.


A1985-87 design by Lawrence Nield and Partners was adopted for the Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal and substancial modifications, including additional features such as restaurants and cafes, took place as part of the lead up to Bicentenial celebrations

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Taken on February 12, 2012