Sydney's Convict Colony: A Walking History of The Rocks

From AUD $44.00
  • Duration: 2 Hours (approx.)
  • Location: Sydney, NSW
  • Product code: Convictcolony
Tour Taster:

Once upon a time (not so long ago), a bizarre colonial experiment took place on the rocky shores of Sydney’s ancient Indigenous harbour. Thousands of miles from home, England’s banished thieves were locked on in a prison with ocean walls, forced to find food & cut through stone.

Defying the odds, their shanty camp survived and grew—clutching to life on the banks of a freshwater stream. Gardens were grown, goods were traded & rum soon ranked as both currency & cure.

As centuries changed, The Rocks was carved into cottages and corridors. Scallywags sailed into shore. Larrikins lurked in the laneways & many a clever convict swapped their chains for riches.

Journey Walks invites you to share a part in this remarkable story. This tour will keep your ears pricked, your eyes open and your passion for the past brought to life.

Your Guide:
This tour is led by local historians who specialises in storytelling and guiding groups through time and space. Expect history with a sense of humour and the kind of juicy detail that bring the past back to life.

The Walk:
While focussed on The Rocks district, your journey walk will also include important relics and remains around Circular Quay such as those tucked away at Macquarie Place and hidden beneath the foreshore of Sydney's original Cove— you will also venture inside Customs House to discover what's hiding under its glass floor. In The Rocks, expect hidden cobblestone alleyways, charming sandstone ruins, historic pubs and heritage protected houses that make up Sydney's most infamous historical quarter.

Your walking tour will cover:

  • Indigenous Sydney — the ancient harbour and its clans
  • Why did the convicts come? A clear context to transportation
  • The voyage, landing and struggles of the First Fleet
  • Secrets from the early convict colony
  • Convict craftsmen and entrepreneurs
  • The rum trade and its repercussions
  • Street gang stories and scandals
  • Sydney's oldest surviving cottage
  • Hidden sandstone structures and ruins
  • A visit inside Customs house and the Argyle stores
  • The remains of Sydney's slums and shanties 
  • Models, maps and murals of new & old Sydney town
  • Any question you have answered in the spot


This tour is not recommended for children under 12 years of age as it involves adult content, 2.5 hours of history and walking (which can often be little much for younger guests) and ends at a pub in The Rocks. 

While mostly on flat ground, several staircases are included in our walk due to the layout of The Rocks and thus the tour requires an ability to ascend and descend these flights. It is also important that guests are able to maintain their balance on cobbled surfaces, over grass and on sloped ground. Unfortunately these factors (especially the stairs) prevent easy access for those with strollers or wheelchairs — making the tour unsuitable for those with limited mobility.

A good level of English is recommended for this tour as the historic content will be brought to life through detailed stories and information (this is a talking tour just as much as a walking tour) and is currently not available in any other languages.