The Rocks Sydney - an alternative walking tour

An alternative walking tour of Sydney’s historic Rocks – Tallawoladah district. With the intimacy and access of a small group (8 or less), we’ll see where the harsh convict settlement of New South Wales was established in 1788. The Rocks was known to Australia’s First People as Tallawoladah and this is where the long history of invasion and dispossession of began. Some of the best preserved remnants of colonial Sydney are found here, right by the harbour and in the shadow of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.

(Daily 9.30am – 12PM with breaks – $65 incl. GST and coffee / soft drink). Tours operate with a minimum 2 people.


The Rocks – an alternative walking tour – highlights

We’ll discover –

* Where Sydney’s prison without walls was founded in 1788, and the hungry brutal years of the early colony. Who were the convicts?
* Early contact between the invaders and First Nations clans of the area.
* The whalers, gold-seekers and waterside workers who settled here as the settler economy boomed.
* Australia’s first Chinatown “Little Canton” developed here during the 1850s Gold Rush.
* Sydney’s contested architectural heritage. Since the 1970s, The Rocks has been at the centre of skirmishes between developers, locals and heritage advocates. A working class area of wharfies, whalers and public housing, has gentrified, and is now home to some of Sydney’s most expensive real estate.

Check out our other downtown Sydney history walk;  Sydney – tales of the city

We also publish a free independent cultural travel guide to Sydney here.

The Rocks Heritage, Sydney

Heritage architecture, The Rocks, Sydney  © Mark Bowyer© Mark Bowyer

Sydney – Tales of the City is led by our founder Mark Bowyer. Mark was born and raised in Sydney’s Western Suburbs. He studied Australian history at Sydney University and the University of Technology before working in media and tourism. He publishes the travel guide.

Mark says,”Returning to Sydney after decades abroad has given me an opportunity to take a fresh look at the place and its incredible, complicated past. The way we view history has changed since I studied at Sydney University. That’s a good thing. I’ve created tours here that tell Sydney’s chequered story, while showcasing its stunning, photogenic, beauty.”

The Rocks, Sydney

The Harbour Bridge over The Rocks, Sydney © Mark Bowyer© Mark Bowyer


The tour operates each morning from 9.30AM. For special bookings, contact us at Put your own group together (min. 5 or equivalent pricing). Send a booking using the form or email us.

The tour commences at 9.30AM and concludes at 11.30AM – 12PM. We enjoy a coffee and a chat in a lovely Rocks location (there are many).

Cost $65 per person incl. 10% GST and a coffee (or soft drink). Tours operate with a minimum 2 people. If we don’t have two travellers for a scheduled departure, the cost for a single (private tour) will be $120 incl. 10% GST.


Expert guide, drink, presentation. Small group (max 8) experience.


There are no entrance fees.


You’re a curious, active traveller (over 12 years of age) interested in exploring the stories of Sydney – past and present – on foot. You’ll have an interest in history and getting a better understanding of the city, its past and present. You’ll need to be mobile – but we move at a casual speed. Expect to be on your feet for 90 minutes with breaks. Sydney can be hot in summer. Most of the tour is conducted along shaded paths. We operate in most weather conditions – there are plenty of nice spots of shelter. The tour is an excellent introduction to all things Sydney – even for locals.

Rocks Men's toilet

This beautiful heritage Men’s toilet is a Victorian era creation, beneath the enormous structure of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in The Rocks  © Mark Bowyer© Mark Bowyer


Comfortable walking shoes, hat, sunscreen, water bottle and warmth in winter.


You can put your own tour together and we can talk about your special interests. Special discounts apply to private tours of more than 5.


We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Country on which we walk on this tour, the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.


The tour is available to anyone over 12 years of age with average fitness and mobility (ask us about family walks and walks for the less mobile). We walk around 3000 steps over 1.5 hours. There are some hills and stairs.

We operate in most weather conditions. If we cancel due to weather or another externality, we will provide an alternate tour date or a full refund. There are plenty of nice places to take shelter. One date change can be made up to 12 hours prior to the tour without penalty. There are no refunds for cancellations within 48 hours of travel.

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