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City of Sydney's 'Colony' History Walk - Part 1 (Circular Quay)

Home > Sydney > Free | Outdoor | Walks
by Vanessa M (subscribe)
I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published June 4th 2015
This walking tour is great tour for visitors or residents of Sydney who have never really appreciated the area's past. It takes you all over three of the most popular areas for tourists - Circular Quay, The Rocks and Millers Point - and makes sure you get a feel for what's happened in these places over the last two hundred years.

The tour is self-guided and a PDF offers a map and information on each point-of-interest can be found here, or links to the app here. It's offered by the City of Sydney, who have created Chinese, Japanese and Korean versions as well.

The walk is supposed to take 1-2 hours and starts at Customs House. From here you take Loftus Lane (down the side) and look out for a flag near the building. It's not an Australian flag, but a British one, and marks the place where the first flag was raised.

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Customs House


At the end of the road (where it meets Bridge Street) is Macquarie Place, which was once mangroves, but is now a small park full of history. For example, the obelisk here was where distances were measured from in the colony. Over the other side of the park is Bulletin Place, a detour on the tour.

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Bulletin Place was once visited by Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, due to The Bulletin magazine headquarters being located here


Bridge Street is a major part of this section of the walk, as it has so many old buildings whatever direction you go down it. They're mainly on the same side though; the opposite one to Macquarie Place. Directly opposite the park is the Lands Department Building, while to the left is the Department of Education building.

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The Lands Department Building


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The Department of Education building


The last building to look at on this road, in the western direction, is the redbrick Metropolitan Hotel. Diagonally opposite, is a matching building in the same style, and both were designed in around 1910 by Walter Liberty Vernon.



Up Grosvenor Street, and a little out of the way from the rest of the tour, are two churches on Church Hill, one of the oldest parishes in Australia. The first is St Patrick's Church, a gothic church built in 1848. Across the park there's Scots Presbyterian Church too.

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St Patrick's Church


These churches mark the end of the Circular Quay section of this history walk. From here, the tour takes you into The Rocks, before visiting Millers Point. There's also another walk by the City of Sydney that begins here; the hidden laneways walk. You can find the full selection here.

Circular Quay also offers the Sydney Writers Walk.
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Why? Learn about Sydney's colonial era, while visiting many sites that have lasted since the city's early years
When: Any day
Where: Circular Quay (for just the first stage of the walk)
Cost: Free
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