As noted in the previous post, the sandstone at the site chosen by the first settlers got the new colony off to a rocky start. (Pun intended.) The convicts and soldiers who made up the population at the time were not of a poetic bent, so they very practically called the area where they began to build The Rocks. That name has stayed with the area.
The Rocks evolved from struggling penal colony to thriving shipping port in relatively short order. Warehouses and taverns soon filled the flat area bordering the water. Today, those warehouses and taverns have been renovated and filled with galleries, restaurants, boutiques, museums, and, well, taverns (some things don’t change). It’s the oldest part of Sydney, and a tremendously fun part. Walking tours can be had, to introduce you to the area’s often rough history. It’s a must-see part of town, perched on the water’s edge, with the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop and the Opera House directly opposite. The shops and eateries are delightful, the original buildings, many built of the local sandstone, are handsome, and the view is unbeatable.
I must note with some sadness that two of my favorite places in The Rocks have closed since my first trip to Australia. The Geological and Mining Museum and the splendid shell shop named Marine Specimens are both gone now. As the area became more focused on tourism and nightlife, there was decreasing interest in the more purely educational pursuits. So if you visit, you’ll have a great time, but you won’t find these two stellar spots. You may not miss them, but I shall (because I do intend to get back again).
Below are a few shots from around The Rocks. This is just a small sampling of this charming area, so plan on spending a little time exploring. Take one of the walking tours. Have at least one meal here. It’s not just attractive, it’s where Australia started.