Then & Now: Sydney Airport Photos Taken 38 Years Apart

Same old, same old.

Two photos of Sydney Airport, taken 38 years apart, show how one part of Sydney has changed surprisingly little since the 1970s.


Sydney ain’t what it used to be (see: Vice’s recent piece: An Oral History of the Rise and Fall of Sydney’s Once-Magical Club Scene, if you don’t believe us). According to popular belief (and Melburnians), we are a city of personal trainers, bankers, wankers and real estate agents who are all simultaneously arrogant and self-loathing.

But even as Bondi’s 20-cent bread rolls have become $9 spelt loaves and Kings Cross has become a ghost town, there’s one thing that appears to have remained constant: the part of General Holmes Drive where you can see planes coming into land.

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Bringing that thought into our brains is Instagram account @retrosydney_. @retrosydney_ posted an image two days ago which shows a Qantas Boeing 747 passing across General Holmes Drive in 1978.

Claiming to have got their information from aussieairliners.org, @retrosydney_ captioned the image: “1978: General Holmes Drive, Mascot. Looking West as a @qantas Boeing 747 passes across General Holmes Drive in 1978 in its ‘ochre’ livery.”

They added: “Interestingly, this aircraft pictured here (VH-EBF) was ordered by Qantas in September 1972 and entered service in August 1973 – it was the 6th 747 to be delivered to Qantas.”

“It also had been the plane to have the first baby delivered on a Qantas Flight on a trip from Singapore to Sydney in late July 1974 🤰🏻 , and also featured in the movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’ 🐊 in 1985.”

@retrosydney_

Inspired, DMARGE did a little sleuthing on Pinterest and found an image of another Qantas jet crossing General Holmes Drive in 2016 (38 years later).

Top: General Holmes Drive in 1978 (image via @retrosydney_, who credit  Brian Blake via Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa with the photo). Bottom: General Holmes Drive in 2016 (image via Pinterest).

The two photos of General Holmes Drive show one aspect of Sydney, despite all the other New Things, has barely changed at all since 1978 – General Holmes Drive. That said: the cars were cooler in the 1970s, we, and a few Instagram commenters (“there’s a few big engines there and I’m not talking about the jumbo”) reckon. Oh, and @retrosydney_ claims the type of jet (The Queen Of The Skies) featured in the above image was scrapped in 2008.

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Other observations from social media commenters included wishing the roads were as smooth now (“If only Sydney roads were still that smooth. Need a 4WD to go anywhere after the last few summers”) and yet more pining after the cars (“that Statesman front end…..”).

Find that interesting? You’ll want to check out this 85 year old photo of Bondi Icebergs

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