The Rocks

Despite giving me a huge headache because I kept humming the stupid Neil Diamond song “Love on the Rocks” the whole time, the area of Sydney called “The Rocks” is a pleasant diversion from the rest of the city. The Rocks used to be a real place, one of the earliest locations settled in what is now Sydney, and is loaded with history. It has been transformed into a trendy tourist area that might not be to all tastes, but despite the darn song in my head and my intent to hate the place simply because it is obvious everyone is Supposed to Have a Good Time There or Else, the Rocks is worth a visit for you and your kids.

Nicely convenient to the main Sydney harbor (which we talk about here), you easily see both areas in a day. The Rocks is mostly flat or gently hilly, not too much trouble with a stroller or kid in a backpack.

The Visitor's Center

Head on down George Street for the Sydney Visitor's Center, an excellent first stop for the area and Sydney in general. Inside are a higher quality of souvenirs than you find most elsewhere, including some huge replica Aboriginal musical instruments and a nice selection of coffee table books and maps. We bought some delightful passion fruit jam, as well as some outback mosquito repellent that at least smells very nice and came in a nice jar. There are also for sale nice tour guides for all of the country, and large racks of free pamphlets for all sorts of attractions in the Sydney area. If you have the time for day trips outside the city, you can find a lot of info on your choices here. Towards the rear of the store is a full Nemo section, with every Nemo object ever created for sale. To be fair, there are a number of low cost Nemo things, so you might not have to work through a major parenting event.

If you are really into the Rocks, be sure to pick up pamphlets at the Visitor's Center for The Rocks Walking Tours and The Rocks Ghost Tours. The Ghost tour is limited to 18 years old and older, but might be fun for parents if you can find someone to watch the kids.

For lots more information, see www.therocks.com.

Things to Do in the Rocks

Shopping done and pamphlets in hand, head up to George Street, the main road, and enjoy the restored buildings. Many began their lives as warehouses, only to reawaken as trendy cafes, swanky shops and fancy boutiques. Despite trying ever so hard to be all too quaint, it pretty much works and stays pleasant enough. You can enjoy some nice views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and mellow out in Sydney cafÃÆ'© life.

On Saturdays and Sundays the whole area turns into a street market and while crowded, the kids will enjoy themselves tied up in the hustle and bustle. There are also usually street performers, including the scary mimes in silver paint and Guy in White with a Musical Instrument that freezes until just my kid walks past with a full bladder. See www.therocksmarket.com for all the details.

Street Rock

Keep an eye out for Argyle Street, which features a very, very nice stuffed animal and teddy bear shop, as well as some heady shopping in the Rocks Center Precinct and Argyle Stores Precinct. Nice stuff, high prices, good browsing, maybe not so much buying. Lots of restaurants, ice cream, ye olde pubs.

A Stroll Through the Cut

A better reason to head up Argyle Street is to have a look at the Argyle Cut, a wicked big tunnel dug by hand through and under an embankment that now supports the huge road that leads across the Harbor Bridge. A bit slimy at night, the walk is pleasant during the daytime and leads you out to the historic Garrison Church, some nice Colonial era homes and, again, some nice views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

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