The Rocks, Sydney – an alternative walking tour

An alternative walking tour of Sydney’s historic Rocks neighbourhood.

The Rocks, Sydney – an alternative walking tour

The Rocks, Sydney – an alternative walking tour

OUR SYDNEY WALKS RESUME ON 15 APRIL 2024. JOIN US!

An alternative walking tour of Sydney’s historic Rocks – Tallawoladah district.

With the intimacy and access of a small group (8 or less), we’ll see where the harsh convict settlement of New South Wales was established in 1788. The Rocks was known to Australia’s First People as Tallawoladah and this is where Australia’s long history of invasion and dispossession began. Some of the best preserved remnants of colonial Sydney are found here, right by the harbour and in the shadow of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is where some of the fiercest battles to preserve Sydney’s built heritage have occurred.

(Daily 9.30am – 12PM with breaks – $65 incl. GST and coffee / soft drink). Tours operate with a minimum 2 people.

Sydney Harbour Bridge cuts through The Rocks
Sydney Harbour Bridge cuts through The Rocks © Mark Bowyer
 
The Rocks – an alternative walking tour – highlights
We’ll discover –

* Where Sydney’s prison without walls was founded in 1788, and the hungry brutal years of the early colony. Who were the convicts?
* Early contact between the invaders and First Nations clans of the area.
* The whalers, gold-seekers and waterside workers who settled here as the settler economy boomed.
* Australia’s first Chinatown “Little Canton” developed here during the 1850s Gold Rush.
* Sydney’s contested architectural heritage. Since the 1970s, The Rocks has been at the centre of skirmishes between developers, locals and heritage advocates. A working class area of wharfies, whalers and public housing, has gentrified, and is now home to some of Sydney’s most expensive real estate.

Check out our other downtown Sydney history walk; Sydney – tales of the city

You can check the Rusty Compass independent travel guide to Sydney here.

 
Cannon on Sydney Harbour – remote colonial Sydney was fearful of invasion from the beginning © Mark Bowyer 

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY IN 2023 – WHY AN ALTERNATIVE TOUR?

2023 is a big year to be digging into history in Sydney and Australia. Later this year, a referendum will be held to belatedly give constitutional recognition to Australia’s First Peoples and create an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament. As a small business involved in telling Australian stories, Old Compass Travel supports The Voice amendment to the Constitution and we seek to to operate our walks in a way that respectfully acknowledges Australia’s First Peoples.

Australia’s understanding of history is changing. Stories that weren’t told just two or three decades ago are now central to the narrative of our cities and our country. History is always contentious and its perspectives are always evolving. It’s supposed to be that way. The most important shift is in addressing the long silence around the dispossession of our First Peoples. Our walks focus on Sydney during and after colonisation. We hope they convey some of the complexity of a fresh alternative look at our history. 

OUR TOUR LEADERS

Old Compass Travel tour leaders are experts in the places they work. They bring depth to our walks well beyond the talking points of the itinerary. They’ll have an interest in history and contemporary affairs, architecture and economics – big stories. They’ll also be able to help you make the most of your Sydney and Australia travels.

WHO YOU ARE

You’re a curious, active traveller (over 12 years of age) interested in exploring the stories of Sydney – past and present – on foot. You’ll have an interest in history and getting a better understanding of the city, its past and present. You’ll need to be mobile – but we move at a casual speed. Expect to be on your feet for 90 minutes with breaks. Sydney can be hot in summer and cold in winter. Most of the tour is conducted along shaded paths. We operate in most weather conditions – there are plenty of nice spots to take shelter if we need to. The tour is an excellent introduction to all things Sydney – even for locals.

Sydney sandstone - The Rocks
Sydney sandstone – The Rocks

 

WHEN DOES THE TOUR OPERATE – WHAT’S THE COST?

The tour commences at 9.30AM and concludes at 11.30AM – 12PM. We enjoy a coffee and a chat in a lovely Rocks location (there are many).

Cost $65 per person incl. 10% GST and a coffee (or soft drink). Tours operate with a minimum 2 people. If we don’t have two travellers for a scheduled departure, the cost for a single (private tour) will be $120 incl. 10% GST.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

Expert guide, drink, presentation. Small group (max 8) experience.

NOT INCLUDED?

There are no entrance fees.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

Comfortable walking shoes, hat, sunscreen, water bottle and warmth in winter, umbrella and raincoat when conditions require.

Rock terraces, Sydney ©Mark Bowyer
Rock terraces, Sydney ©Mark Bowyer

PRIVATE TOURS AND TOURS FOR HIGH SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES

You can put your own tour group together. We can also tailor a walk to your interests. Special discounts apply to private tours of more than 5. We also run specialised walks for High Schools and Universities.

For special bookings, contact us at

[email protected].

GADIGAL COUNTRY

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Country on which we walk on this tour, the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.

CONDITIONS

The tour is available to anyone over 12 years of age with average fitness and mobility (ask us about family walks and walks for the less mobile). We walk around 3000 steps over 1.5 hours. There are some hills and stairs.

We operate in most weather conditions. If we cancel due to weather or another externality, we will provide an alternate tour date or a full refund.  One date change can be made up to 24 hours prior to the tour without penalty. There are no refunds for cancellations within 48 hours of travel.

Tour Brief

  • OUR SYDNEY WALKS RESUME ON APRIL 15 2024
  • Price: $65AUD pp incl. 10% GST
  • Walking tour – 2.5 hour approx.
  • Operates daily from The Rocks @ 9.30AM
  • Includes: Expert Sydney guide, presentation, coffee stop (coffee or soft drink).
  • Email – [email protected]