There is increasing awareness in Australia of the health impacts of poor air quality. A common public concern raised at a number of "roadshow" events as part of the federally funded Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub (CAUL) project was whether or not the air quality monitoring network around Sydney was sampling air representative of typical suburban settings. In order to investigate this concern, ambient air quality measurements were made on the roof of a two-storey building in the Sydney suburb of Auburn, to simulate a typical suburban balcony site. Measurements were also taken at a busy roadside and these are discussed in a companion paper (Part 2). Measurements made at the balcony site were compared to data from three proximate regulatory air quality monitoring stations: Chullora, Liverpool and Prospect. During the 16-month measurement campaign, observations of carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, ozone and particulate matter less than 2.5-μm diameter at the simulated urban balcony site were comparable to those at the closest permanent air quality stations. Despite the Auburn site experiencing 10% higher average carbon monoxide amounts than any of the permanent air quality monitoring sites, the oxides of nitrogen were within the range of the permanent sites and the pollutants of greatest concern within Sydney (PM 2.5 and ozone) were both lowest at Auburn. Similar diurnal and seasonal cycles were observed between all sites, suggesting common pollutant sources and mechanisms. Therefore, it is concluded that the existing air quality network provides a good representation of typical pollution levels at the Auburn "balcony" site.