History of Sydney Cove

Sydney Cove oyster bar old toilet house

Historically, Sydney Cove is one of Australia’s most significant landmarks. On the 26th of January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip—the leader of the First Fleet—raised a flag on the shore of Sydney Cove to proclaim the Colony of New South Wales, in the name of the King of England.

This date was later to become our national holiday, known today as Australia Day. Coincidentally, on this exact day 200 years later, the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar began trading.

The Federation building, which houses the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, itself dates back to 1908. It was constructed for the workers at Burns Philip & Co as part of the wharf facilities that serviced the many Island trading ships during the early to mid 1900s. In 1911 a tendons room was added which, along with the public lavatories, remained in use until 1987 when Circular Quay was redeveloped in preparation for Australia’s bicentennial celebrations. Part of the redevelopment included changing the usage of this heritage-listed building to ‘restaurant’—the first step towards making East Circular Quay a true people precinct.

The Sydney Cove Oyster Bar has traded since that date and developed a reputation for serving premium Sydney Rock Oysters and quality Australian seafood in what is arguably the most perfect location of any city in the world.

Its close proximity to the Opera House makes it the ideal destination for a pre-opera meal and its easy strolling distance from most CBD hotels makes it a favourite for that late night coffee or dessert wine. Sydneysiders and travellers alike would agree that the tranquil setting and spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge make The Sydney Cove Oyster Bar one of the country’s absolute “must-do” locations.


We love our Instagram and we're always sharing cool images from the days and nights @ the Oyster Bar. Follow us and comment if you like, we'd love the company.

Closing Date 28 March 2021

Unfortunately we will be closing our doors for the final time in less than 50 days because Property NSW would not extend our lease. So please make a booking and come and say goodbye to a small business that has been a little shining light on the Sydney dining scene for over 33 years.