Hailed as the birthplace of Sydney, the Rocks is steeped in history and culture. Sitting on the southern shore of the Sydney Harbour, it's the spot where the first European settlers set foot on Sydney soil. As you wander through the cobbled lanes, or perhaps indulge in one of the walking tours or a visit to Cadman's Cottage, don't be fooled that the Rocks is just a preserved historical site. It may be home to some of the oldest pubs in Australia but it is also a thriving and lively precinct, home to markets awash with tourists and Sydney-siders alike.
Being the oldest area of Sydney, The Rocks showcases architecture from the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. The rich history of The Rocks holds stories of convict life, publicans' expansion plans, the habits of sailors and wharf labourers, the changing alignment of the waterfront and more.
The Rocks became established as the commercial hub of the city, although it's reputation wasn't all that good; being populated by convicts and their descendants it became a place of drunkeness, brothels and uncivilised affairs. By the end of the 1800's wealthier residents were moving out of the area to places such as Ashfield and St Peters. This resulted in many of the houses in The Rocks being neglected and overcrowded.
The New South Wales Government took ownership back of The Rocks area however in the 1900's the Bubonic Plague put a halt on things for several years as the area had to be contained. As that passed more housing was finally built and areas started redevelopment. The Sydney Harbour Bridge started construction in 1923 but this meant some houses needed to be demolished. Several redevelopments occurred over the years from around the 1960's and of course with all this many protests took place from residents not happy with certain plans and threats of people losing their homes. By 1977 the NSW Government had passed its own Heritage Act protecting the area.
Today there are over 100 heritage sites in The Rocks. The oldest house is Cadman's Cottage, built in 1816. The Dawes Point Battery is the oldest remaining European structure, which was built in 1791.
Things To Do
There are many things you can do in The Rocks and it's easy to spend the whole day here and still have plenty of things still to do. You can over course do a heritage tour and learn all about the area and visit all the historical buildings within the area. There is even an App for this to do at your leisure, view the video (right). There are also self guided bike tours available.
The Rocks is well known for it's weekend markets and they also do a Friday afternoon food market. Ever-popular and always a great way to pass time and enjoy the experience in a lovely setting.
The Rocks is also home to several museums including The Rocks Discovery Museum, Susannah Place Museum, The Sydney Observatory and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
For even more things to do visit The Rocks website where you can filter by the type of experience you would like.
Very straight forward to get to as The Rocks is such a central part of Sydney.
By Ferry: To Circular Quay and you are practically in The Rocks.
By Train: To Circular Quay station and again right there.
By Bus: Many bus routes go here and pull up right outside Circular Quay station.
By Car: There are several cars parks around the area, quite difficult to get street parking though.
On Foot: Only a 10 minute walk from Wynyard station or 15 minutes from Town Hall station.