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Fullerton Hotel Sydney launches free heritage tours for all

The Fullerton Hotel Sydney has launched its complimentary heritage tours, offering hotel guests and members of the public a unique opportunity to discover the bygone tales of one of Sydney’s most iconic buildings – the former General Post Office (GPO). 


For the first time, tour participants will be able to take a trip down memory lane to explore the building’s vibrant history which has connected Sydney to the wider world through letters, telegrams and the lively phone exchange.



“The introduction of Fullerton Experiences and the complimentary heritage tours are part of our vision to bring this building back to life. We encourage our guests, and the local community, to discover not just The Fullerton Hotel Sydney, but the former GPO building as a destination itself,” said Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale, General Manager of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts.


“It is an honour to showcase and introduce a wider audience to this iconic building steeped in character and history, which has played such a significant role in the working and social life of the city of Sydney.” 


Fullerton Experiences

The Fullerton Hotel Sydney is the latest opening from The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, the brand behind the rejuvenation of Singapore’s Fullerton Heritage precinct located in the heart of the Lion City, including The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore. 


Committed to its role as custodians of heritage, The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts brand is renowned for its dedication to preserving buildings and their stories. This tradition will continue with The Fullerton Hotel Sydney, which shares a rich heritage with its sister hotel, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, also a former GPO. 


The tradition will also extend to the introduction of Fullerton Experiences, a bespoke programme designed to celebrate heritage, culture, arts and culinary excellence for both the local Sydney community and a global audience.



Sydney GPO’s Storied History 

During its former life, the Sydney GPO building served as the gateway to the world, the centre of NSW’s telephone and mail communication for many years, and Sydney’s postal headquarters until 1996. Designed by colonial architect James Barnet and built on a grand scale, Sydney’s GPO building defined the Sydney streetscape and skyline for decades. Constructed in 1866 to meet the demands of the city’s growing population, the building was regarded as one of Sydney’s most well-known landmarks.


Controversial Carvings and the Public Outcry of 1883 

During the 90-minute heritage tours, heritage tour guides from the Hotel will share fascinating stories and facts of bygone years, from the hallowed hallways of the historic building to the ornamental carvings on the façade. This includes the once controversial Pitt Street carvings that depict Sydney’s early working life and caused a public outcry upon their reveal in 1883. 


The carvings depict contemporary people at work in realistic form, such as the Postmaster General thought to be Francis Wright flirtatiously delivering a letter to a barmaid, an astronomer marking Sydney’s position on a globe, a young architect, thought to be James Barnet drawing a building, and a digger pointing with satisfaction to a chunk of gold and quartz.


The carvings were deemed to be inappropriate and sacrilegious with the absence oftraditional gods or goddesses, and so vehement was the opposition to the carvings that there was a parliamentary enquiry debating their removal.


Special attention was paid to the Martin Place and George Street façade carvings, which have recently undergone a painstaking restoration under the watchful eye of expert stone masons, during the remediation and maintenance project commissioned by The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts.


Restored to their former glory, on  the front of each arch along Martin Place, 24 face carvings represent different states, countries and continents, ranging from Russia clad in a bear skin, to a square-jawed America with stars across her brow, while a stony-faced Queen Victoria overlooks Martin Place from her perch above the main entrance. The representation of the badge of NSW, seen as a turning point in the colony's symbolism, faces George Street.



Creating Fullerton Memories 

After the tour, guests are also invited to cement their memory of this historic postal destination by penning a note on a specially designed Fullerton Hotel Sydney postcard, available at Concierge. A limited-edition $1.00 Fullerton Sydney postal stamp is also available for purchase at the same venue. 


Complimentary Heritage Tours and Sydney Open 2019 

Exclusive tours for hotel guests will run on Friday and Saturday mornings at 10am, while members of the public are invited to join the tours at 11.45am on both days. Tour groups are restricted to 15 guests each to ensure a personalised experience, and bookings are advised through the concierge, or via email.  


The Fullerton Hotel Sydney will open its doors for Sydney Open on 2 and 3 November, allowing ticket holders to explore the building and gain access to otherwise restricted spaces over one weekend. To purchase tickets and learn more, see here.


As The Fullerton Hotel Sydney begins a new chapter in the former GPO building, the hotel invites guests, Sydneysiders and global travellers to discover the past, and create new stories and memories in the revitalised space.


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Published: 3 November 2019

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