A Travellerspoint blog

City Walking Tour, Sydney - NSW

rain 17 °C

Flying from Perth to Sydney gave great views of the south coast, to Adelaide
My first morning in Sydney I thought I'd get a feel for the place with a free walking tour. It was great, 2.5 hours of a little history, and a lot of sight seeing, including places I wouldn't have thought to go.
The tour started at Archibald Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park
gifted to the citizens of Sydney under the will of the late J.F.Archibald, the Lord Mayor, in 1932.

Opposite St Mary's Catholic Church which has the greatest length of any church in Australia (although it is neither the tallest nor the largest overall). Built in 1882, the two spires were only added in 2000!

and along Elizabeth St to Hyde Park Barracks museum
Described by Governor Macquarie as 'spacious and well-aired' they were built by convict labour and designed to house 600 convicts between 1819 and 1848.

and of course, where there's convicts, there's always a Church for repentance - St James' Church. Constructed by convict labour and originally designed as a court house in 1819 but plans were changed to build a church instead when plans to construct a cathedral on George St were scrapped. It is the city's oldest church.

There are several statues of Lachlan Macquarie.
Some are more flattering than others! He served as the fifth and last autocratic Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821, and had a leading role in the social, economic and architectural development of the colony.
He is considered by historians to have had a crucial influence on the transition of New South Wales from a penal colony to a free settlement and therefore to have played a major role in the shaping of Australian society in the early nineteenth century.

Parliament House
The central section of this building which houses the State Parliament is part of the original Sydney hospital built from 1811-16.It has been a seat of government since 1829.

The Royal Mint, operated on this site from 1855 to 1926, processing over 1,200 tons of gold from the Australian goldfields and producing over 150 million coins.
The building then housed government offices and later a museum, before being transformed into Sydney Living Museums in 1997.

The Library
A free public lending library service has existed in Sydney since 1877 when the New South Wales state government opened a lending branch of the State Library of New South Wales on Macquarie Street. By the end of the same year there were over one thousand registered borrowers.

Passing Ill Porcelino the wild boar of good luck!
He collects money for the Sydney hospital. Legend sys that if you rub the nose of the boar you will be endowed with good fortune. So he has rather a shiny nose!

Lands Department Building This three storey colonial edifice was built between 1877 and 1890. All the decisions about subdivision of much of much of rural Eastern Australia were made in the offices within.

Palace Gardens
A fine set of gates leading into the Botanical Gardens on Macquarie Street announces the Garden Palace, home of the International Exhibition. Beyond the gates, a circular garden bed recalls the former location of the dome of the Palace building.
Everything about this building was flamboyant. Its four towers and spectacular wooden central dome dominated the skyline, dwarfing all other buildings. However, being built of wood in Australia was not a good idea, and it soon burnt down.

Governor Phillip fountain is the only large neo-classical fountain in Sydney and was the most expensive public sculpture produced in Australia in the 19th century. It was unveiled in June 1897.
Crafted from Italian bronze and marble, it took seven years to complete and cost £14,000 (at the time the Director of the royal Botanical Gardens annual salary was only £550). Who knows what motivated the composition of large mythological figures representing mining, agriculture, commerce and navigation and self-conscious Australian motifs? All this in honour of the towering figure of Captain Arthur Philip, first Governor of New South Wales.

We saw several Australian White Ibis birds minding their own business, they look so prehistoric.

First Fleet Memorial
commemorates the first voyage and arrival in Sydney of the first fleet which bought to Australia European settlers under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip. The fleet sailed from Portsmouth on 13th May 1787 and anchored in Sydney on 26th January 1788.

H.M.S Sirius anchor,
from the original ship which convoyed the First fleet, sailed from the Isle of Wight and was wrecked at Point Ross Norfolk Island from where this anchor was recovered and erected in 1907.

Customs House
the first Collector of Customs was appointed in 1827 and the Department has occupied this site since 1854. After Federation the collection of customs duties passed from State to Federal control.
It has a great scale model o the city of Sydney, under a glass floor!

The Stables originally commissioned in 1815 as the stables and servants' quarters for the proposed Government House of New South Wales, the oldest Conservatorium building was designed by the convict architect, Francis Greenway.
A gothic structure with turrets, the building was described as a "palace for horses" and is a portrayal of the romantic vision of Governor Lachlan Macquarie and the British architectural trends of the time. The stables, located close to picturesque Sydney Harbour, reflect the building techniques and the range of materials and skills employed during the early settlement era. It is now owned and used by The Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Matthew Flinders who explored and skilfully chartered a large portion of the Australian coast during the years 1796 to 1803.
and his cat you can see on the wall behind him

Near the harbour is an area called The Rocks.
Established shortly after the colony's formation in 1788, the original buildings were made mostly of local sandstone, from which the area derives its name. From the earliest history of the settlement, the area had a reputation as a slum, often frequented by visiting sailors and prostitutes. During the late nineteenth century, the area was dominated by a gang known as the Rocks Push. It maintained this rough reputation until approximately the 1870s. By the early 20th century, many of the area's historic buildings were in serious decay. In 1900, bubonic plague broke out, and the state government resumed areas around The Rocks and Darling Harbour, with the intention of demolishing them and rebuilding them. More than 3800 houses, buildings and wharves were inspected and hundreds demolished, but the continuation of these plans were brought to a halt due to the outbreak of World War I. During the 1920s, several hundred buildings were demolished during the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. However, the outbreak of World War II once again stalled many of the redevelopment plans, and it was not until the 1960s that serious attempts to demolish much of the area were revived. Today the Rocks is a partly gentrified area, but still contains a significant proportion of Housing Commission properties, and there is still a significant problem of urban poverty and street crime in this district. As housing stock becomes dilapidated, government policy is to sell the now extremely valuable public housing units to private owners, in the expectation that they will restore the properties.

Today, it boasts one of Sydney's oldest pubs

We walked up Nurses Walk
The nurses at both Sydney hospitals, which were located in this area from 1788 to 1816, were selected from convicts . They received no pay but were maintained at public expense. The first hospital consisted of two roughly constructed buildings and a garden was located at the rear where both exotic and native herbs were used to relieve the shortage of drugs.

to the Suez Canal
one of few survivors of the many narrow alleys that acted as thoroughfares in The Rocks, it remains much as it was when first formed in 1841, no doubt named by locals after the torrent that poured down its course every time it rained.

and up to some old houses, that literally were two-up two-down.

Campbell's Storehouse
Robert Campbell, a prominent Scottish merchant in the early days of Sydney, purchased this land on Sydney Cove in 1798 and in 1802 he began constructing a private wharf and storage houses in which he housed tea, sugar, spirits and cloth he imported from India.

Nearby is the shortest street in Sydney

and along to Susannah Place
a terrace of four brick and sandstone houses dating back to 1844 which has a rare history of continuous domestic occupancy since 1840 through to 1990. TI is now a museum showing the living conditions of its former residence..

Opposite here is an original section of road, made from wooden bricks!
This is how all of Sydney roads would have looked.

A wall painting on the side of a fish and chip restaurant interprets different stages of The Rocks,
from pre-British settlement to the present. Specific buildings are highlights and reference so viewers can relate The Rocks of today with the artwork.

and just down the road it an interesting three sided war memorial called The Impressions.
It depicts The Convicts, The Soldiers and The settlers.

A little further down this road and you're at The Cove which comes alive at nights with restaurants and bars.
here, I saw my first view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
with a beautiful tall ship in front
and The Opera House.

I continued exploring after the tour with one of the girls I'd met,
First, we went up the tower of a nearby restaurant, for some better views.

Under the bridge you can see Lunar fun Park

Looking to the east, was the imposing view of the Opera House
there is a constant stream of ferries crossing, but this one, is called Charlotte!

We walked along the jetty to find some lunch at the opera house, with a great view of the bridge.

fending off the seagulls,
but stopping to take photos of the colourful parrots that are almost as common as pigeons here!

From the steps of the Opera House there's a great view back to the CBD (Central Business District) and the Botanical Gardens.

Posted by charlystyles 13:00 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney_walking_tour

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


Well someone was certainly paying attention. I've been to Sydney dozens of times and haven't seen half of that. Great pics and info. Well done you yx

by Yvonne

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.