One of the things that makes Sydney solid very nearly made it impossible. When settlers first arrived in the late 1700s, they found to their dismay that the soil was very shallow on most of the available flat land, with solid sandstone underlying, and often jutting out of, the thin layer of dirt and vegetation. The colony nearly failed because of the lack of land suitable for growing crops. Survival was a struggle, and it took a bit of exploring to find places where food could be grown.
Once a foothold was gained, the sandstone no longer seemed to be the enemy. It became the colony’s most popular building material, and quarries soon dotted the city. Most buildings in the city that date to the mid-1800s were built of the area’s hard sandstone.
Today, it is still possible to see how daunting those first endeavors at settlement must have been. The image on the left is the Argyle Cut, a 300-foot tunnel begun in 1843, carved and then blasted through the wall of sandstone that divided Sydney. The image on the right is the picket fence around a house I passed in one of Sydney’s neighborhoods—the fence is actually bolted to the rock.
So one can truly say that Sydney has a solid foundation.