University anniversaries

Sesquicentenary 1999-2002

Sesquicentenary Celebration Day, 13 October 2002

The University of Sydney Sesquicentenary celebrations commenced in 1999 and commemorated various important phases in the foundation of the University.

Sesquicentenary Celebration Day was held on 13 October 2002 as a celebratory, festive day encompassing a multiplicity of events for alumni, students and friends of the University and the general public to experience and enjoy the University. It commemorated the arrival of the first students and the presentation of the first lectures (October 1852) and the inauguration of the University (11 October 1852).

The University provided a core of enjoyable activities designed to draw a general audience and encourage the public to ‘feel at home’, enjoy and appreciate the campus, as part of the community. The day was intended as an outreach to the general public.

The birthday cake

The Sesqui birthday cake


Activities were centred on the Quadrangle and the front lawn, and included the following:

Main stage entertainment:
The main stage entertainment was provided by the James Morrison Sextet and Tim Freedman. (James is Conservatorium graduate, and Tim is an alumnus.) View photographs.

Quadrangle ‘Chill Out' Space:
The Quadrangle ‘Chill Out' Space provided a range of entertainments including student bands and DJs, Theatresports demonstrations and fun debates staged courtesy of the University Union. A participatory action painting was organised by the Art History and Theory Club and the work was later donated to the University.

Carillon recitals:
The University Carillonist gave regular recitals throughout the day - Quadrangle lawn.

Organ Recital:
A special recital on the Grand Organ in the Great Hall was performed by the University Organist.

Official Opening of the new entrance to the University from Victoria Park:
The Vice-Chancellor and the Deputy Chancellor joined the Mayor of South Sydney Council in a ribbon cutting ceremony to declare "open" the new heritage stairs linking Victoria Park and the University. This completed the re-establishment of the historic vista from the Quadrangle Clocktower to the University's original entrance on City Road. View photographs.

The cutting of the Sesqui Birthday cake:
A Sesqui Birthday Cake was jointly provided by the University and the University Union. After the Vice-Chancellor and the Deputy Chancellor cut the cake, over 1,000 pieces were served to the crowd. View photographs.

Australia Post commemorative pre-paid envelope:
Australia Post produced a special commemorative pre-paid envelope celebrating the Sesquicentenary. The campus Post Office was open on the celebration day to enable the purchase of the envelope and post marking with the date.

Celebrating the First Lectures:
An entertaining celebration of the First Lectures that were deleivered by the original Professors of the University, Charles Woolley, Morris Pell and John Smith. The Departments of English and Classics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics presented these in the Great Hall at intervals throughout the day.

Market stalls:
There were market stalls along Eastern Avenue and roving entertainment throughout the afternoon.

Invitational Cricket match and athletics:
A fifty-over a side cricket match on Number One Oval was played between the University's Poidevin-Gray (Under 21) team and a Vice-Chancellor’s International Eleven consisting of current University players, some recently retired internationals, members of the Australian Women's cricket team and some cricket loving celebrities. During the Lunch and Tea breaks in the cricket, some of Australia's best athletes competed for prizes in a series of match races including the Sydney University Sesquicentenary Gift.

Tours and displays of the Treasures of the University:
The War Memorial Gallery: Photographer Lisa Giles’ Schools of Thought exhibition to mark the sesquicentenary. This exhibition of black and white photography presented insights into the University's community of students, teachers and alumni.

The Macleay Museum: The exhibition was Collected: 150 years of Aboriginal Art and Artifacts, which featured the oldest known Aboriginal bark painting from the Port Essington area; boomerangs; spears; pearl shell ornaments; and a wanjina figure from the Kimberley.

The Nicholson Museum: The largest and most prestigious collection of antiquities in Australia, featuring masterpieces of ancient art from Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Rome, Cyprus and Mesopotamia.

The Rare Book and Special Collections Library: More than 185,000 separate books and manuscripts, including early printed books, manuscripts, modern limited editions, and examples of fine binding and printing; and collections of works of detective fiction, science fiction and fantasy.

The University of Sydney Archives: For the Sesquicentenary, a small display of significant University ‘Firsts’ was mounted by the University’s Archives in the information centre under the Clock Tower.