Old Sydney

The Rocks and the Surry Hills were stand out areas in Sydney for us. Both are older areas that juxtapose against the high rising centre. For us they gave a cool old Sydney to roam around that gave us a glimpse into it’s historical past. We found some pretty stunning Victorian shopping Arcades too.

The Rocks are a mainly residential area beneath the feet of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the Circular Quay side.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

The first fleet arrived here in 1788. Within days the Governor’s canvas and timber house was built. The convicts were housed in tents beneath the sandstone outcrops.

It was these rocky outcrops that gave it it’s cool name ‘The Rocks’ (sounds like a movie title!).

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

At one point there were open sewers, drunken sailors, brothels and plague-ridden rats along side the convicts.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Today, you get giant cruise ships and food markets.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Captain William Bligh! Hubby and I grinned at each other, someone we’d heard of. This was the guy who commanded HMS Bounty in 1789 (we’d seen a film).

There was a mutiny mainly due to his randy men forming bonds with hot Tahitian women (they had stopped at Tahiti to get some breadfruit).

So, they put him in a 23 foot long open boat with 18 loyal companions and set to drift.

With barely any rations he navigated the boat 3600 miles to Timor – a voyage which, for endurance and navigational skills, has never been bettered.

I quite like him – He was a severe disciplinarian, but never cruel. He was brave and honest and later on went on to be Governor of New South Wales in Australia, with orders to clean up corruption.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

We head towards the bridge glancing down the narrow cobbled streets, spotting small museums and eateries.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

The buildings hint to it’s edgy past. The bridge, in contrast, stands out with more grandeur.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Is it because we are all together on holiday, the sun is shining and there is a slight breeze, that this bridge (even from underneath) looks so pretty?

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

The bridge was needed by 1815 but the logistics kept engineers busy until 1911 when a single span bridge was proposed.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

The result is the decorative granite clad pylons are art deco in style (all the rage then). The scale is breathtaking.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

There is a small park here, with canons facing out to the bay (and disconcertingly the folk on the benches in front!)

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

You get a lovely view of Sydney Opera house from here.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

The Australian sun felt very warm after our walk so we took the chance to sit in the shade for a moment. Maps were used as fans, arms were lifts and extra deodorant sprayed. Bottles of water were downed. And this was Australia in Autumn!!

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Time to head back in search of some breakfast.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

We found this little place called ‘Swagmans’ offering delicious, healthy versions of all our favourites. Perfect for refuelling.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

We opted for their garden, enjoying the shade.

It did cause some hilarious moments of arachnophobia for us Aussie newbies. (Hilarious for those of us furthest away from said Arachne…)

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Inside is much like a home it probably was, with fireplaces and a small balcony typical of this style.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Breakfast was well done and tasty. Just what we needed.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

These buckwheat pancakes were full of seeds, smothered in maple syrup and fruit. I filled me up ’til lunch.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Andy found ‘The First Impressions’ sculpture. It has 3 sides – each side represents a particular group of people that helped to establish early Sydney. i.e. the convicts, the settlers and the soldiers.

Andy settled in very well.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

It’s right by the shortest street in Sydney, just 28 metres!

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

and home to Biggles, who was a dog of The Rocks, and a cutie.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

This Heritage Hotel is still running after 100 years and serves over 100 Australian craft beers.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

Susannah Place Museum – built in 1844 and was occupied until a few decades ago! It shows the story of the working class community.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

We are heading off for a spot of shopping now. It’s a Victorian style shopping arcade and its pretty stunning.

Old Sydney - The Rocks and Surrey Hills

The Strand arcade is on George Street, the original high street in Sydney (tho’ we found it pretty uninspired overall).

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The shops here are very designer and exclusive.

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There are 3 floors. I’m too hot to even think about buying anything but it’s lovely just to stroll around and the scene is lovely.

Sydney arcades

Sydney shopping

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Now to the Queen Victoria Building (also on George street). A bigger, bolder more accessible version of The Strand.

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There are elevators everywhere, and much to our kids hilarity when ever we were going down, they were going up.

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No sooner have we found them, we loose them.

Shopping in Sydney

Until they cross us by on the elevator again!

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We rose above it (with big grins on our faces) as us Parents do, concentrating on the architecture and so on – a lovely clock for our Queen Elizabeth…

Arcades in Sydney

Spiral iron stairs mysteriously leading to a glass dome…

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A mechanical calendar… (we think)

Sydney shopping

and stained glass windows. All very lovely.

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So where are the kids..?

shops in Sydney

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These guys never fail to crease me up and I love them for it.

Now heading off to the Surry Hills area for a much needed ice-cream from Gelato Messina
(1/241 Victoria St | Darlinghurst)

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Just take a look at those specials!!

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Frankly, they all looked so good I found it nearly impossible to choose.

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We bought a tub each and sat outside for a while, catching our breath and enjoying the deeply creamy treat. James was the wisest as he opted for a refreshing lemon sorbet.

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Victoria street was packed full of really cool and funky eateries. It’s great to walk along, taking in the atmosphere.

Just off here are lots of beautiful little Victorian Terrace Houses. Try Glenmore & Jersey roads and Cascade, Liverpool, Windsor & Paddington streets.

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Most are so beautifully kept.

The streets are quiet, blossoms and bicycles sit pretty and old trees push for space.

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Its a real pleasure strolling round this beautiful area and a great rest-bite from the hot bustle of the city centre.

Old houses in Sydney

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Despite practically limping to a taxi rank after a day on our feet, I’ve loved every minute of discovering Old Sydney. More holiday fun soon!

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4 Comments - Write a Comment

    1. We were enchanted by the Victorian Terraced houses in and around the Surry Hills. Quiet pretty streets just outside the city centre and so many cool eateries too. Lovely x

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