An insight into Sydney's colonial past, the historic harbourside precinct of The Rocks offers settler stories around every twist and turn of its cobblestoned streets. So named for its rough terrain, the site is where the First Fleet and convicts disembarked at Sydney Cove. The area's working-class roots are long gone as the period buildings now contain restaurants, shops and souvenirs.
The historic location is dominated by Sydney Harbour Bridge, which you can glimpse around The Rocks. The heritage dockside area features restored buildings, boisterous pubs, museums and galleries as well as shopping, dining and entertainment options. The picturesque setting makes the most of narrow laneways and cobblestone streets, and is one of Sydney's most popular visitor destinations. Notable sites include the tiny stone Cadman's Cottage, which is possibly Australia's oldest house, built in 1816 to house the Governor's boat crew. The site is now the National Parks & Wildlife Service headquarters and the place to go for permits to access Sydney Harbour National Park.
Elsewhere along the historic walkway you'll find the free Rocks Discovery Museum and Susannah Place Museum – for a look at the area's historic and working class roots, as well as famous and fabulous artworks within 10 galleries including the Musuem of Contemporary Art, which looks out onto Circular Quay. Several companies offer tours of The Rocks, which can be booked at Sydney Visitor Centre (also known as The Rocks Centre). There's also plenty of unique boutiques, vintage shops, souvenir vendors and craft outlets to browse, or while away the time taking in the million-dollar views and soaking up the portside atmosphere from an outdoor table at a café, restaurant or bar. At night, the area also draws a sizeable amount of visitors keen to partake in the ambience and entertaining nightlife.
To get to The Rocks, it's a 14-minute walk down George Street from the Pitt Street Mall in the CBD. Another option is to take the train or ferry to Circular Quay and walk five minutes up George Street.