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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
The original Trig Station was built here and all mapping was referenced back to this precise location.
Wonderful views of the harbour and The Bridge are seen from Observation Park.
The observatory is open to the public and has free admission.
From the park I could see several harbour-side suburbs as well as Luna Park and Walsh Bay.
Below the park is lower Fort Street with the Garrison Church
and fine examples of early terrace houses
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.
We walked back through the Argyle Cut and noted many Plane Trees which were planted a century ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platanus
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.
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.
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
After lunch we continued down Cumberland Street towards the Harbour Bridge Pylons.
The Bridge Climb Offices and Training Centre are located just opposite the Glenmore Hotel. http://www.bridgeclimb.com/
We then swung right into George Street
and Playfair Street and Atherden Street which is only 26 metres long. The original old terrace houses are in abundance in these three streets.
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.
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,
another original building and one which is two thirds undergoing archaeological excavation.
Next we walked around the crowded public open space of Circular Quay.
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
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
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.
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
Also located in the park is the recovered anchor from the ill- fated ship, HMS Sirius which sank at Norfolk Island in 1790.
A little further up the street we stopped to admire the ornate doorway of the original Lands Department building.
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.
Tags: Argyle Cut, Atherden Street, Bridge Climb, Cadmans Cottage, Circular Quay, Department of Lands, Garrison Church, Glenmore Hotel, Luna park, Macquarie Place, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Coroners Court, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Observatory, Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Town Hall Station, YHA