292. Sydney. THE ROCKS. Birthplace of a Nation…

This post is about The Rocks, often referred to as the birthplace of Australia.

Our walking tour planned for today started with the decision to travel by train to Town Hall Station in Sydney. Donnis and I got the pensioner discount fare of $2.50 return to Sutherland. This same ticket entitled us to travel as far south as Nowra, West to the Blue Mountains and north to Newcastle.

Once at Town Hall Station we spent almost an hour underground as we wandered along the intersecting tunnel shopping malls which link up with Queen Victoria Building.   http://www.qvb.com.au/about-qvb  

Queen Victoria Building showing three shopping levels.

Queen Victoria Building showing three shopping levels.

Frank Bev N pete in the Queen Victoria Building in front of the original stained glass window.

Frank Bev n Pete in the Queen Victoria Building in front of the original stained glass window.

The QVB construction was completed in 1898.

Restoration was proposed by a Malaysian company in 1984.

In 2008 the company spent another $48m on refurbishment and  works were completed in 2009.

As a child and later as a teenager, when I worked in the city near the QVB, the building was considered a bit of a ghost town and apart from a visit when I first started work, it was just a dark and dingy building which had nothing of interest to a teenager.  Sometime around the 1959 the building was considered for demolition. The building has undergone a restoration including going underground and linking up with Town Hall Station. I could probably spend a day wandering the many floors of stores, coffee houses and displays. Two sights which stood out was the original stained glass window and the three story tall Christmas Tree, adorned with over $200,000 worth of Swarovaski Crystal Candles.

Three storey high Christmas Tree inside the Queen Victoria Building.

Three storey high Christmas Tree inside the Queen Victoria Building.

From the QVB we walked George Street as I particularly wanted to see the Commercial Bank of Australia building at 391 George Street where I started work after schooling was finished.

391 George St. This is where I started work all those years ago.

391 George St. This is where I started work all those years ago.

It is no longer used as a bank and I was disappointed to see the heavy ornate brass doors which I opened each morning at 10am and closed at 3pm, are gone.

Sob!

I recall when I first started work, electric trams operated along the streets of Sydney. They ceased operation around 1960. I was working when George Street had the tram lines dug up and the electric overhead lines removed. The entire road-base was made up of timber blocks.   http://thedirton.therocks.com/2010/03/telling-rocks-stories-historical.html

See the video   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhiYG6rnNL8

Further along at 273 George Street was the Commercial Bank of Australia Sydney office.

This is the location where once a magnificent sandstone building once stood.

This is the location where once a magnificent sandstone building once stood.

I worked here in the Correspondence Department on the third floor then Overseas Bills Department on

the second floor before being transferred to a rural branch at Toukley. I was even more disappointed to find the entire building has gone.

Sob! Sob!

So much for visiting old memories.

Next, via narrow streets and even narrower steep sandstone stairs we came to Cumberland Street and an Archaeological Dig at 110 Cumberland St. YHA Australia was granted a 100 year lease in 1994 and agreed to build their new 4 storey hostel above the dig site. The site is open to the public,  University training digs and school educational programs are run during the year. So far over 700,000 artefacts have been recovered from the site.   http://thedirton.therocks.com/2010/03/cumberland-street-archaeological-site.html

http://www.thebigdig.com.au/

110 Cumberland St. Hats off to YHA and all associated with saving an historical site at the same time as building their new accomodation on the same site.

110 Cumberland St. Hats off to YHA and all associated with saving an historical site at the same time as building their new accomodation on the same site.

Part of the Archaeological dig at 110 Cumberland Street.

Part of the Archaeological dig at 110 Cumberland Street.

Many of the original staircases, made from local sandstone, are still in use throughout The Rocks today. We crossed Cumberland Street overlooking what is known as The Argyle Cut…an extension of east and west ends of Argyle Street cut through solid sandstone by hammer and chisel by convicts.   http://goaustralia.about.com/od/nswsightseeing/ss/rockswalk_5.htm

Argyle Cut east

Argyle Cut east

We followed a staircase built as part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge approach until we reached Fort Street and the Original Observatory where weather observations and precise time keeping was carried out.

Observatory seen from the park.

Observatory seen from the park.

Observatory on Fort Street.

Observatory on Fort Street.

Fine example of a sandston block wall built on solid sandstone at the Observatory Park.

Fine example of a sandston block wall built on solid sandstone at the Observatory Park.

The original Trig Station was built here and all mapping was referenced back to this precise location.

Australia's first Trig Station. From here all other trig stations were set. Regular readers will be aware I find trig stations in our travels and report on them.

Australia’s first Trig Station. From here all other trig stations were set. Regular readers will be aware I find trig stations in our travels and report on them.

Wonderful views of the harbour and The Bridge are seen from Observation Park.

View from one of the Observatory Towers. The window overlooks a Cruise Boat Terminal in Walsh Bay.

View from one of the Observatory Towers. The window overlooks a Cruise Boat Terminal in Walsh Bay.

The observatory is open to the public and has free admission.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Observatory

From the park I could see several harbour-side suburbs as well as Luna Park and Walsh Bay.

Looking across Sydney harbour to Luna Park. As a pre-teen and a teenager I would catch a bus from my home in Balmain, a Ferry to either King St Wharf or Circular Quay the another ferry to Luna Park or climb the bridge pylon to the bridge walkway and walk across the bridge to Milsons Point. I loved going to Luna Park. I loved all the rides except the river caves and the roller coaster.

Looking across Sydney harbour to Luna Park. As a pre-teen and a teenager I would catch a bus from my home in Balmain, a Ferry to either King St Wharf or Circular Quay then another ferry to Luna Park or climb the bridge pylon to the bridge walkway and walk across the bridge to Milsons Point. I loved going to Luna Park. I loved all the rides except the river caves and the roller coaster.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna_Park_Sydney

Below the park is lower Fort Street with the Garrison Church

The Garrison Church on the corner of Lower Fort Street and the Argyle Cut.

The Garrison Church on the corner of Lower Fort Street and the Argyle Cut.

The Garrison Church. As you would expect it smells old, musty and damp. Little wonder thet are seeking donations for restorations.

The Garrison Church. As you would expect it smells old, musty and damp. Little wonder thet are seeking donations for restorations.

http://www.therocks.com/sydney-Getting_Here_and_Around-Services-Garrison_Church.htm

and fine examples of early terrace houses

More early terrace houses in Lower Fort Street near the Garrison Church.

More early terrace houses in Lower Fort Street near the Garrison Church.

and of course that media tart, The Sydney Harbour Bridge.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Harbour_Bridge

It appears in so many photographs of Sydney, including my own.

Sydney Harbour Bridge in sunshine glory. If you double click on the image to enlarge full size you will be able to see at least seven Bridge Climb Groups at various places on the arch.

Sydney Harbour Bridge in sunshine glory. If you double click on the image to enlarge full size you will be able to see at least seven Bridge Climb Groups at various places on the arch.

Donnis and Bev lokk out over Walshes Bay at the rotunda in the Observatory Park. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an ever present landmark.

Donnis and Bev lokk out over Walshes Bay at the rotunda in the Observatory Park. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an ever present landmark.

We walked back through the Argyle Cut and noted many Plane Trees which were planted a century ago.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platanus

A huge Plane Tree growing through the footpath in the Argyle Cut west. The tree almost spans the entire road.

A huge Plane Tree growing through the footpath in the Argyle Cut west. The tree almost spans the entire road.

The Rocks Discovery Centre at Kendalls Lane and lunchtime is as busy as any other time of day.

The Rocks Discovery Centre at Kendalls Lane and lunchtime is as busy as any other time of day.

Terrace Houses in Playfair Street near Rocks Information Centre.

Terrace Houses in Playfair Street near Rocks Information Centre.

Argyle Cut runs under Cumberland Street and we climbed Argyle Stairs  – like all the original sandstone stairs they have been worn and weathered by countless feet over the last 150 to almost 200 years – to reach Cumberland Street. The Glenmore Hotel, built about 80 years ago was where we had lunch.

Our lunch spot outside the Glenmore Hotel, Pete, Donnis and Bev are sharing a table with an American women who works at the hotel. She kindly arranged to have an umbrella brought to our table.

Our lunch spot outside the Glenmore Hotel, Pete, Donnis and Bev are sharing a table with an American women who works at the hotel. She kindly arranged to have an umbrella brought to our table.

View from Glenmore Hotel in Cumberland Street. Look at the old red post box still being used today.

View from Glenmore Hotel in Cumberland Street. Look at the old red post box still being used today.

The hotel has three floors with the upper deck being used for special functions such as New Years Eve as it has a grandstand view of the harbour.

Main bar of the Glenmore Hotel.

Main bar of the Glenmore Hotel.

The men’s urinal has a window which also overlooks the harbour and International Passenger Terminal.   http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/visit/ViewAttractionDetail.aspx?ID=5053165

View from the window beside the men's urinal. Look closely and you can see the funnel on the good ship Carnival Spirit.

View from the window beside the men’s urinal. Look closely and you can see the funnel on the good ship Carnival Spirit.

After lunch we continued down Cumberland Street towards the Harbour Bridge Pylons.

These are Housing Commission units in Cumberland Street. All have majestic views over Sydney Harbour. Rents are up to, yep, up to, $80 per week. Some craft tenants who do not own cars, rent their underground car parking spaces for up to $200 per week. Not a bad deal if you can get it.

These are Housing Commission units in Cumberland Street. All have majestic views over Sydney Harbour. Rents are up to, yep, up to, $80 per week. Some crafty tenants who do not own cars, rent their underground car parking spaces for up to $200 per week. Not a bad deal if you can get it.

The Bridge Climb Offices and Training Centre are located just opposite the Glenmore Hotel.    http://www.bridgeclimb.com/

Headquarters and Training Centre of the Sydney Bridge Climb.

Headquarters and Training Centre of the Sydney Bridge Climb.

A Sydney Bridge Climb tour group almost completing their tour. A little to the left in this photo is a hole in the wall tunnel. All tours commence and end inside the tunnel.

A Sydney Bridge Climb tour group almost completing their tour. A little to the left in this photo is a hole in the wall tunnel. All tours commence and end inside the tunnel.

We then swung right into George Street

Typical well maintained historical terrace houses in George Street, The Rocks.

Typical well maintained historical terrace houses in George Street, The Rocks.

and Playfair Street and Atherden Street which is only 26 metres long. The original old terrace houses are in abundance in these three streets.

Playfair Terraces in Atherden Street. This is the shortest street in Australia at only 26metres long and there are only 4 terrace houses.

Playfair Terraces in Atherden Street. This is the shortest street in Australia at only 26metres long and there are only 4 terrace houses.

Still on George Street we saw the huge brick building, with the red old fashioned phone box outside, that at first glance I thought it was a Post Office.

Original Coroners Court in George Street.

Original Coroners Court in George Street.

In fact it was the Coroners Court and now operates as an Art Gallery.   http://walkingtour.therocks.com/s.p?m=b&p=8n4TsWqoXyMH

Crossing George Street and moving towards the International  Passenger Terminal we stopped to look at Cadmans Cottage,

Cadmans Cottage.

Cadmans Cottage.

another original building and one which is two thirds undergoing archaeological excavation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadmans_Cottage

Next we walked around the crowded public open space of Circular Quay.

Circular Quay. The busiest maritime port within Australia..

Circular Quay. The busiest maritime port within Australia..

Entertainers keep the crowds amused and it seemed there was a camera on every visitor. This is a tourist mecca and on a fine warm and sunny day the crowds are out in force. So far, on this walking tour, we have discovered there is so much to see and so much happening around The Rocks we just could not expect to take it all in at one visit. However our walking tour is not yet over and we still have to walk to the railway station.

The huge cruise liner, Carnival Spirit is in port and is being prepared for the next cruise in February 2013.   http://www.carnival.com.au/Spirit.aspx

The Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship.

The Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship.

While enjoying busy bustling cosmopolitan Circular Quay we just had to take a little time out to photograph Sydney’s second most iconic landmark, the Opera House.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Opera_House

Donnis and Frank at Circular Quay with another world famous iconic building in the background.

Donnis and Frank at Circular Quay with another world famous iconic building in the background.

Pete, Bev n Frank at Circular quay with  icon  the Opera House.

Pete, Bev n Frank at Circular quay with icon the Opera House.

This needs no introduction.

This needs no introduction.

This will be a prime place to be for the New Years Eve fireworks but at least a million other people will have the same idea. Regrettably we did not have time to walk over to the Opera House and I will have to save my first visit for another time. I still feel somewhat guilty that I grew up in Sydney and lived in and around the city and have not yet visited the Opera House.

Old Sydney Double decker buses have been put to a practical use. These buses run every 20 minutes and tours last 90 minutes.

Old Sydney Double decker buses have been put to a practical use. These buses run every 20 minutes and tours last 90 minutes.

From the busy quayside we crossed Alfred Street and walked to Loftus Street and wandered to Macquarie Place a park partially walled with beautiful original Sydney Foreshore Sandstone blocks.

A sandstone obelisk was erected here in 1818 to mark the place where all roads leading out of Sydney to destinations  within the colony were measured.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macquarie_Place

The plaque at the bottom of the Obelisk in Macquarie Place.

The plaque at the bottom of the Obelisk in Macquarie Place.

The Obelisk in Macquarie Place. All distances within the Colony were measured from this point.

The Obelisk in Macquarie Place. All distances within the Colony were measured from this point.

Also located in the park is the recovered anchor from the ill- fated ship, HMS Sirius which sank at Norfolk Island in 1790.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Sirius_%281786%29

Anchor from the wreck of the HMS SIRIUS now located at Macquarie Place at The Rocks.

Anchor from the wreck of the HMS SIRIUS now located at Macquarie Place at The Rocks.

A little further up the street we stopped to admire the ornate doorway of the original Lands Department building.

Beautiful ornate door and entranceway stonework of the Department of Lands.

Beautiful ornate door and entranceway stonework of the Department of Lands.

We continued our walk along a gradually steepening street until we reached Martin Place. We did not take time to wander Martin Place instead we entered the underground railway station (this station did not exist when I worked in the city many years ago) and caught our train back to Sutherland.

All in all, a happy but tiring day. We only saw a fraction of what The Rocks has to offer. Indeed we only saw a fraction of what the “old” part of Sydney has to offer as well. There are parts that are 200 years old, some 100 years old and some are modern. I do not know when this will happen but I will return to Sydney and spend more time visiting its fabulous landmarks and significant historical sites.

You can count on it.

We suggest you take time to “double click” on the images to view full size.

We hope you get as much enjoyment out of this mini-tour as we did.

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6 Responses to “292. Sydney. THE ROCKS. Birthplace of a Nation…”

  1. Red Nomad OZ Says:

    It’s been WAY too long since I visited Sydney, and sadly no photographic evidence exists of me with the Opera House or Bridge!! Thanx for your most enjoyable tour – and Happy New Year!!

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Happy New Year and thanks for dropping in Red. I do not know if my Rocks post was too gushy but gee wizz re-discovering a place that was part of my life growing up and not taking any interest in the place until now just hit an emotional chord with me. I had something like 160 photos and had to prune them back to 43 and that took three days of editing. Sorry, gushing again…Cheers Frank

      Like

  2. RedRoadDiaries Says:

    great tour and photos. One of the favorites things for us to do on the road is find the old, original parts of a city and explore it’s history. I noted the bridge training center…do you have to train to climb it? How is it done? I’ll look forward to your next trip and seeing the inside of that opera house.

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Hello Judith. I could devote an entire post about the bridge climb. I did the climb about 10 years ago. No cameras are allowed on the tour. An official photographer photographs each group at selected locations. My photos are packed away.Yes you are correct, each climber must undergo about an hour of training including clothes, use of radio, safety, procedures, what type of obstacles will be encountered and how to navigate them and a certain level of fitness. Each participant undergoes a breath anlysis for alchohol levels and will be turned away if the level exceeds a minimum. The climbers are attached to the bridge railing with a cable, which once attached, can only be removed either at the completion of the climb or the guide has a special tool. The climb is just that, a climb. Safety is paramount. Some climbers do freak out and need to be helped to a comfortable location by safety officers. On my tour we did have one woman freak out at a section which sort of hangs out over the highway below. I did my tour at night, finishing at 11pm. The tours run 20 hours every day. Have a look at the Bridge Climb website link shown in the post for more information. Also click the photos to enlarge them, the climb tour groups can easily be seen on the bridge arches. I am ready to do the climb night or day right now. Are you? Come to Oz and we will join you.

      Like

  3. roamingbarbara Says:

    Great tour of a place I will never see. But even I recognized the Opera House.

    Like

    • frankeeg Says:

      Hi Barbara, never write off the possibility that you might one day see the Opera House AND the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Thanks for visiting again. All comments are welcome. PS I read about your furniture and wonder what the “scratch cover” is that you mentioned. Welcome to 2013. Cheers.. FrankieG

      Like

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