The Rocks: Sydney’s Outdoor Museum
The Rocks is Sydney’s oldest area and is steeped in history and character. One reason is the strict control on development has limited the construction of brash modern buildings. This is one of the reasons they call The Rocks ‘Sydney’s Oldest Museum’. Add to this a vibrant cafe, pub and dining culture, some wonderful shopping, and what is arguably the city’s best view of the Opera House, and you’ve got the recipe for a great Sydney day out. So where’s the best place to start?
That’s an easy one; the place to go is the Sydney Visitor Centre at 106 George Street. It offers a mass of free information and literature about everything to do with The Rocks.
The Rocks may be Sydney’s Outdoor Museum but it’s home to many indoor museums, too, and these are great places to explore the area’s past.
One of the most fascinating is the Discovery Museum located in a restored 1850’s sandstone warehouse. The three floors of the museum narrate the story of The Rocks from its Aboriginal days up to the present. The displays comprise extensive artifacts unearthed over the centuries.
For a glimpse into how life was in The Rocks long ago, visit Susannah Place a group of four terraced houses dating from 1844. They illustrate the raw community of l9th century working class life in the city. Susannah Place retains the brick toilets and open air washing facilities of those days. The block also contains a recreated corner store stocked with goods from that period.
You can get more insights into the Rocks past at Cadman’s Cottage, Sydney’s oldest building. Located on George Street, it was built in 1816 as barracks for the coxswain and crew of the Governor of New South Wales. It’s named after the last government coxswain, John Cadman. Cadmans Cottage houses a museum and the Sydney Harbour National Park Information Centre.
Also here in the oldest part of Sydney you’ll find the Museum of Contemporary Art. Officially opened in 1991, the museum’s four floors display artworks from both local an international artists. The displays are continually changing. The museum offers stunning views over Sydney Cove.
To see one of Sydney’s first churches, head for Miller’s Point on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour, beside Darling Harbour. Garrison Church was built in 1840. Originally named the Church of the Holy Trinity, it became better known as the Garrison Church due to its proximity to the Commonwealth arsenal. Next to the church, you’ll find the volunteer-run Garrison Gallery Museum. The nearby St Brigid’s Millers Point is the oldest existing place of Catholic worship in Australia.
Another Sydney first is the Customs House, built on the land of the Eora people. It was the site of the First Fleet landing in 1788 and now houses a collection of unique exhibits. The Aboriginal flag now flies permanently at Customs House to acknowledge the original owners of the land.
The Rocks is also a fine choice of location for your stay in Sydney. Choose a hotel at The Rocks and not only will you be in the historic heart of the city, but the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the entire Sydney CBD are on your doorstep. The Rocks hotels include such august hostelries as Sebel Pier One Sydney and Rendezvous Stafford Hotel Sydney.