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Although locals had long lived in the area, during the late 18th century several British explorers claimed part of eastern Australia, and soon the Sydney area began to be settled by convicts. In its early days, the colony struggled. However, the city improved with time and the kinds of settlers changed. The 1840s and 1850s were a transition period when, due to a gold rush and other factors, Sydney began to grow quickly. Sydney's population was about 500,000 by the late 1800s.
Sydney's Habour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House are famous destinations in Sydney.