The Rocks Sydney

"The Rocks Sydney - historical, bursting with life and some great pubs and shops!"

The Rocks is a classic tourist area but you can't help but love it. Steeped in history (well for Australia at least!) and full of life, this is a must do for any trip to Sydney.

This is a great place to walk around. Its compact so it doesn't take that long, but you can admire the architecture and stop off in one of its many pubs or shops. Come in the evening and be blown away by the old buildings lit up at night and turned into fancy restaurants

History Of The Rocks

You would find it hard to believe these days that the first inhabitants of the Rocks lived in rat-infested slums and the whole area was run by gangs. Believe it or not that was only about 100 years ago too.

The Rocks was so named due to the rugged cliffs that were once very dominant here. In 1788 the first boats arrived and the convicts were put to work building. They had very limited tools and some of the roads you see today (Argyle Cut) were carved out of the rock using just a hammer and chisel!

Now its a colourful place where the old colonial architecture is still very much present, and it's one of the nicest walks you can do between here and the Sydney Australia Opera House.

You can do a self guided tour of the rocks by going to the Visitor Centre and asking for a map. The organised Sydney Walking Tours around the area are fabulous though. I particularly enjoyed the Ghost Tour. More details in the above link.

The Best Colonial Examples

There is lots to see along Lower Fort Street, Gloucester Walk, Playfair Street and the main George Street but here are my favourites:

Cadmans Cottage on George Street. A little further on from the Museum of Contemporary Art is a small cottage where John Cadman used to live with his family. Here there was a barracks too.

Campbells Storehouseon Circular Quay West A beautiful set of restaurants overlooking the water. This is where Robert Campbell set up a wharf to store tea, sugar, spirits and cloth he imported from India.You can still see the pulleys that were used to raise the cargo from the wharf at the top of the building.

  • Argyle Stores on Argyle Street - Probably my favourite of the colonial buildings here at The Rocks Sydney. This is an old warehouse set on cobbled stones. It is likely that alcohol was largely stored here. Now it's a nice array of shops selling fashions and the like.
  • Susannah Place on Gloucester Street This is a little row of four terraces that is now a museum about domestic service. It shows the living quarters and has a quaint corner grocery shop too. Don't miss this one. The museum is awesome.
  • The Big Dig, between Cumberland and Gloucester Street - This is at the site of the new Sydney Harbour YHA in the Rocks Sydney and is an archeological site where they have found the foundations of a whole street where over 200 families lived. They have pieced together remnants of their lives with story boards and artifacts to admire
  • The Hero of Waterloo on Lower Fort Street. This was a favourite drinking place for the Garrison Soldiers that used to live nearby (see also the Garrison Church opposite) . There is an underground tunnel that was also used for smuggling.

    It was also said that drunken sailors were pushed through a trapdoor into the tunnel where their boat would be waiting for them! These days you can enjoy a drink and soak up the atmosphere

  • The Rocks Market

    The Rocks Sydney Market is on every Saturday and Sunday and is a great place to pick up a souvenir. I love the atmosphere, the eating stands and the Australian-ness of the merchandise.

    You'll find the market at the end of George Street, just at the junction of Hickson Road.

    There are over 200 stalls selling food, souvenirs, jewellery and fashion items.

    Fridays too these days you can enjoy a food market down at the rocks.

    The Best Pubs in the Rocks Sydney

    There are some great old fashioned pubs that are a joy to visit.

    A couple of stand outs are

  • The Lord Nelson on Kent Street. The ale is brewed on the premises and the food is good too
  • The Australian, Cumberland Street - Guaranteed a good atmosphere with plenty of interesting pizzas on the menu - try Kangaroo or Emu here. It's more about the eating than the drinks here though. Attracts a few travellers due to the interesting menu.
  • The Argyle Argyle Street- pretty large and modern with a good courtyard which makes it a destination pub during the summer months. Tends to attract the workers for drinks after work but still busy on a weekend too
  • Hero of Waterloo Lower Fort Street- This has to get a mention due to its history and secret passage (see above for more details)

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