What better way to get an insider’s glimpse into what life was like for early Australians than to follow their very own footprints?
Once you arrive to pick up the car rental Sydney Domestic Airport travellers rely on for great service and even greater rates, head down the ‘colony’ historical walkway in the central city, which allows you to walk the same path that many of the city’s earliest residents traversed.
This walk begins where all of the goods that passed through the city’s ports were taxed and cleared for sale or export.
As you continue down along Loftus Street make sure you keep an eye out for the raised flag as this marks the spot where the first British flag was flown.
If you’ve read any 19th century literature set in Sydney, you might also be aware this was a famous haunt for journalists and newspaper men thanks to the famous weekly newspaper, the Bulletin, having its printing press based here.
There are plenty of historic relics to feast your eyes on here. Keep your eyes peeled for the obelisk as this interesting structure was once used to mark the distances between all places in the colony.
Then continue along Bridge Street onto George Street and finally head along Grosvenor Place, keeping an eye out for the historic facades of the Metropolitan Hotel and the Grosvenor Place Towers along the way.
St Patrick’s Church
As you continue on this route, you will go past a simple Gothic sandstone church. This was built in the 1840s by the convict William Davis and became the heart of the working Catholic population in Sydney. Many inner city children were educated at the St Patrick’s school.
Next, continue down Harrington Street and up the Cahill Expressway where you will spot some worn steps. Walk up these to Cumberland Place.
Directly opposite Cumberland Place lies the archaeological dig site of Susannah Place, where hundreds of homes, shops and hotels were crammed into a small area.
After you have had a good look at the remains in the entrance to the Sydney harbour YHA, keep going down the hill until you reach the Australian Hotel, and follow the road along Cumberland Street. Then take the subway underneath the Harbour Bridge Stairs.
Observatory Hill park
This hill was not only the home of Sydney’s first windmill but the hill used by locals for accurate timekeeping.The ball on top of the tower was dropped at exactly 1 p.m every day so Sydneysiders could tell what the time was.
Continue the historic walk with a wander down the hill to the Garrison Church, which was the first official military church in the state.
In the past you would have been able to spot redcoats making their way down to the church for morning prayer from Lower Fort Street, which is your next destination.
Hero of Waterloo
If you want to see an accurate portrayal of a mariner’s life, you might get some idea from this hotel. Here there are plenty of stories about concealed trap doors and rum smuggling, so see what you can spot!
Continue to Ferry Lane via Windmill Street and keep a lookout for signs and plaques telling the history of the area along the way.
This point was home to the first gun in Australia in 1788. There was never a huge commitment made to these fortifications and in 1808 Governor Bligh said most of the gun emplacements were more dangerous to the user than to the target.
This is a great point to end your journey, and you could even return here for a closer look at the archaeological excavations made before 1925.