The Rocks Self-Guided Walking Tour – Discover Sydney’s Historic Heart

in Australia

Sydney vacation companies offer plenty of tours designed to introduce you to New South Wales’ capital.

While these excursions are informative and entertaining, they’re also costly. So why not save your dollars in Sydney and enjoy a self-guided tour instead?

One of the best places for exploring is The Rocks, a district regarded as the birthplace of modern Australia. Captain Arthur Phillip landed here in 1788, and it’s been growing ever since. Happily though, the area celebrates its heritage with historic buildings which remember its past.

Circular Quay is an easy place to start your journey. It has bus stops, a train station, and ferry wharf, so it’s one of the most accessible places in Sydney. The iconic sights of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge let you know you’re in the right spot. Travel north past the Museum of Contemporary Art to the first historic building on our tour, Cadman’s Cottage.

Cadman’s Cottage is one of Australia’s oldest surviving buildings. It was originally built in 1816 to house the state governor’s coxswain and crew, but today is home to the National Parks and Wildlife Service Information Center. You can visit for free every day except Mondays, Christmas, and Good Friday.

Across the road from the Overseas Passenger Terminal you’ll see a row of warehouses. Today they’re office spaces and restaurants, so it’s amazing to think they too were built in colonial times. You’ll see some steps which will take you to the main area of The Rocks.

Head west on Argyle Street and you’ll find The Rocks Center, a great source of information about The Rocks and the rest of Sydney. If you’re not sure what to do while you’re in the city, this is the place to come.

If you continue along Argyle you’ll come to the Argyle Cut, a deep rock cutting through sandstone which offers access to Darling Harbour and Millers Point. It’s amazing to think that convicts did the bulk of this work with only chisels and hammers in 1843. Explosives finished the job in 1867. At the turn of the 20th century it was a popular hangout for gangsters and lowlifes, but it’s happily been cleaned up since then!

Continue on to The Garrison Church, located at the corner of Argyle Street and Lower Fort Road. It began its life in 1840 as a military church, and plaques hanging on the walls remind us of this history.

Argyle Cut at Night

Argyle Cut at Night

After all that walking you’re probably tired and a bit thirsty. So why not do as the locals do and enjoy a schooner of beer at the Hero of Waterloo Hotel. The convict-built Irish pub has been one of Sydney’s most popular watering holes since 1843. Local drops including Tooheys New, Carlton Draught, and James Squire go down easy, so this hotel is a great place to end your Rocks walking tour!

[Image Source: Angus Fraser/Flickr]

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