Sydney, centrally located on the eastern coast, is Australia’s largest and most influential city. Its multicultural nature, advanced infrastructure, state of the art technologies, scale of foreign investment and architectural ingenuity not only make for a highly desired international tourist destination but are all compelling evidence to suggest that Sydney is in fact an established city of the developed world. As in any developed city, there are a myriad of urban dynamics of change at work that have, and will continue to evolve the morphology of the Australian metropolis.
The Greater Sydney Metropolitan Region (GSMR) is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Its wide-ranging spatial articulation extends from Wollongong in the south to beyond Newcastle in the North and to the Blue Mountains in the West. Sydney is an important world city and is aptly located to serve as a base in the Asia-Pacific region. It is Australia’s major financial, corporate and information centre and is also an important centre of manufacturing. In recent years Sydney has attracted many large transnational corporations (TNC’s), some of which include: American Express, Bankers Trust and Bell Laboratories.
As like most large cities, Sydney suffers from problems such as pollution, traffic congestion and high prices for residential housing. In the year 2000, the GSMR had a total population of 4. 75 million. The population growth rate is steady at around 1 percent growth per year. As Cities in the main are dynamic by nature, with changes in things such as transport, government intervention and population size and distribution, it is becoming increasingly important to consider cities, especially those of the developed world, in terms of their complex multiple-nuclei structures and multi-functional/multi-faceted natures.
Australia’s Sydney is an eminent example of this. Geographically, the city of Sydney has changed significantly throughout the past 200 years. The Pyrmont-Ultimo area was once the hub of Sydney’s industrial boom. It was home to establishments such as the CSR sugar refinery (1875), the Goldsbrough Mort Wool Stores, the fish markets, power stations, flourmills and the Saunders’ family sandstone quarries. Establishments such as these saw the area thrive as a centre of manufacturing and production.
However, the 1950’s saw the relocation of heavy industry away from such close proximity to the city centre to areas further up the Parramatta River and into the West. The inner city residential population also declined with the increasing accessibility to the motorcar and the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, as both provided more people with the freedom and ability to live further away from their place of employment. The majority of Sydney’s population growth occurred post-World War II.
Between 1947 and 1966, 55 percent of Sydney’s population growth came from overseas migration. A likely reason for this is that throughout that period of time, the Australian Government was actively encouraging and enforcing its “populate or perish” policy. The majority of these migrants settled in Sydney and Melbourne for the purpose of employment, especially in the new labour intensive manufacturing industries. Other migrants moved to Sydney because of familial ties and connections dating back to the 1920’s and earlier.
Many migrants of the post-war period moved to inner-city areas to form urban villages. For example, Leichhardt developed a large Italian population and Cabramatta is renowned for its Vietnamese dominated populace. Sydney’s rapid suburbanisation in the second half of the twentieth century resulted in a sprawling city. By the early 1980’s poor transport infrastructure, the cost of basic services/utilities and the increasing scarceness and expense of quality residential and commercial land made it apparent that the city could not support such an intense rate of suburban sprawl.
Consequently, in the late 1980’s a strategy known as “Sydney into its Third Century” was released by the state government. This strategy provided a regional framework for future development and redevelopment. One of the major recommendations of the strategy was to increase housing densities, that is, urban consolidation. Even with a policy of urban consolidation, Sydney has continued to expand rapidly into the rural-urban fringe as new suburbs are continually being established. It can also be argued that urban consolidation has only been oderately effective in Sydney as population density remains fairly low for such a large city. For these reasons, it can be seen that the city’s urban consolidation strategies may need to be reviewed. Over a period of time, parts of cities tend to decay in the sense that they are not as modern as other parts or they have simply been neglected. This may include disused factories, railway yards and dockyard areas as well as residential areas. This process is known as urban decay and effected areas are often referred to as ‘blighted zones’ of the city.
In the case of Sydney, urban decay is evident in the poorer quality terrace housing suburbs such as Newtown, Pyrmont, Ultimo, Glebe and Redfern, former railway workshops and yards such as Eveleigh in Redfern, former dock and railway areas in Darling Harbour and Pyrmont and former factory areas in Zetland and Rhodes. (ref. map on page 4). Sydney councils are now making an effort to upgrade and redevelop these areas of decay/urban blight through the processes of urban renewal and gentrification. Many other cities, such as London and New York, have also recently undertaken major urban renewal and gentrification projects.
In the case of Sydney, the Pyrmont-Ultimo area of the city’s inner west is an instance of urban renewal and gentrification taking place. Counterurbanisation occurs when people choose to leave the metropolitan area in preference for a rural country town lifestyle. This process has existed in Sydney for many years. Some of those who move from Sydney to a rural area choose to maintain an urban way of life and work through long distance commuting and/or technology which is a process known as exurbanisation. These “exurbanites” are generally quite affluent.
Although there are some high-income earners who are involved in moving away from metropolitan Sydney, most counter-migrants are poorer individuals and families in search of a more affordable lifestyle. Sydney is experiencing the growing trend of Spatial Exclusion. This occurs when there are restrictions on spatial access and the freedom of movement of other urban dwellers, i. e. high security suburbs, walled estates/gated communities and security conscious shopping malls and business centres. In Sydney there are a growing number of gated communities.
The relatively new Jackson’s Landing development in Pyrmont, for example, includes the following features; 1350 apartments, 150 terrace houses, pools, tennis courts, parks, restaurants, shops, a cliff-side walk and promenade, 24 hour security and an estimated population of 4000. Spatial exclusion is becoming increasingly popular in Sydney as distinctions of and between advantage and disadvantage become more acute. Throughout the twentieth century there was a continuous decline in the number of people living in rural areas as the relative significance of farming also declined both as a means for providing employment and for creating wealth.
Subsequently, there were repeated calls for decentralisation of the population. Decentralisation occurs when governments provide encouragement and incentives for various industries to move out of large metropolitan areas. Throughout the 1970’s there was a strong push from both state and federal government to decentralise the population with a planned urban development program. Plans were developed for designated growth centres in Townsville, Gosford-Wyong, Albury-Wodonga, Geelong, Monarto, Bathurst-Orange and Sydney’s Campbelltown.
There are many urban dynamics of change at work that have, and will continue to evolve the morphology of Sydney. The processes of suburbanisation, urban consolidation, urban decay, urban renewal, gentrification, counterurbanisation, exurbanisation, spatial exclusion, decentralisation and the creation of urban villages are all vital dynamics transforming the Australian metropolis, enabling it to maintain its stance as a vibrant, desirable and functional city of international relevance.
Bibliography A Geography of Global Interactions 2 – Grant Kleemann James Forrest David Hamper Helen Rhodes Shayne Smith Senior Geography 2 – John Paine Nick Hutchinson Kate Lanceley Rebecca Reeves www. boredofstudies. com www. jacksonslanding. com