St Mary’s Cathedral is unusual among the world’s large cathedrals in that, because of its size, the plan of the city around it and the fall of the land, it is orientated in a North/South direction rather than the usual East/West. The liturgical East End is at the North and the West Front is to the South. See Cathedral architecture of Western Europe
Sydney was colonised on 26th of January, 1788, as a penal settlement, governed in the name of His Majesty King George III by Captain Arthur Phillip, for prisoners transported from Britain. A good number of the people to arrive in Sydney at that time were military, some with wives and family. There were also a number of free settlers. The colony was chaplained by the Rev. Richard Johnson of the Church of England. No specific provision was made for the religious needs of those many convicts and settlers who were Roman Catholic. To redress this, a Catholic pastor, Rev. Father O’Flynn, travelled out to the colony of New South Wales, but as he arrived without Government sanction, he was sent home. It was not until 1820 that the Reverends Conolly and Therry arrived officially to minister to the Roman Catholics in Australia. Conolly went to Tasmania and Rev. Father John Joseph Therry remained in Sydney. It is claimed that on the day of his arrival, Therry had a vision of a mighty church of golden stone dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary raising its twin spires above the city of Sydney. This vision came to pass, but not until after 180 years and three intermediate buildings.