I love taking city breaks to busy destinations and, wherever I go, I always try to visit a place’s historic landmarks and gain an insight into its heritage. This was certainly the case when I recently took a holiday to Sydney, where I visited The Rocks district. If you’re considering booking a flight from the UK to Australia, I recommend you explore this fascinating part of the city.
Although it’s not the main reason behind why I think you should visit The Rocks, it is worth bearing in mind that it is very easy to get here. As Sydney’s the largest metropolis in Australia, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. Indeed, you might even be unsure where to go and how to get there. Luckily, The Rocks is very centrally located and is convenient to reach using public transport. Situated in the heart of the city, you can get here by train, and it is situated just to the west of the Circular Quay station, which is a stopping point on four major routes.
Add this to the fact it’s within walking distance of two of Australia’s most iconic landmarks – the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, and it couldn’t be easier to incorporate a trip to The Rocks within a sightseeing tour of Sydney.
While all of Sydney is brimming with history, I think The Rocks is a particularly good place for culture vultures to visit. Unlike the vast majority of the city, this district is largely made up of winding cobblestone avenues and Victorian sandstone buildings.
Indeed, The Rocks resembles what Sydney looked like back in its early days when convicts from Britain arrived in the city on a regular basis, so, in coming here, you may feel as if you’ve taken a step back in time to another era.
To get a good idea of the area’s history, I suggest you visit The Rocks Discovery Museum. This free-to-enter attraction is situated within a converted 1850s warehouse and is home to a range of interactive exhibits that will really bring The Rocks’ past to life. Here, you will get to take in displays that offer a glimpse into the lifestyles of the merchants, sailors and bankers who lived in the region more than 150 years ago, as well as admire Aboriginal artefacts belonging to the native Cadigal tribe.
However, The Rocks isn’t a complete bastion of period history as it is also home to the astounding Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Coming here was one of the real highlights of my time in Australia, so it’s definitely somewhere I think you should visit. The MCA’s permanent collection consists of more than 4,000 pieces (though there are lots of great temporary exhibitions taking place too) and, with all art forms represented here you’ll certainly find something that fascinates you.
Once you’ve finished taking in the exhibits, head up to the restaurant on the top floor. Not only is this a great place to grab a bite to eat, but it’s home to a rooftop terrace from which you can take in fantastic views of the Opera House. Shoppers will also be in their element here, as the district is home to some quaint shops where you can pick up fantastic souvenirs such as boomerangs and didgeridoos.
If you’ve worked up an appetite after a day of shopping and exploring fascinating museums, you should head to one of the nearby pubs. These institutions are among the oldest drinking houses in Sydney and so provide another great way to get an insight into the city’s history. The Hero of Waterloo was constructed in 1843 and was especially popular among troops when Australia was still a British colony. Today, you can sip a variety of cocktails and watch live bands perform.
Alternatively, you might wish to go for a drink at The Fortune of War. Dating back to 1828, this is the oldest pub in the area, with its great array of draught beers and period decor creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
If you’re thinking of visiting Sydney, let us know what attractions in the Rocks you are interested in seeing the most by leaving a comment below.
Photo by stuckincustoms on Flickr.