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Historical walking tours

Historical walking tours

Walk this way

A fascinating range of historical and themed self-guided tours are available for you to enjoy. You can download a brochure (and in some cases, an MP3) below.

If you would prefer to pick up a printed copy, most (not the Rock and Roll Walks) are available from the City Host information kiosks and our Neighbourhood Service Centres and libraries.

Self-guided walking tour series

These self-guided historical walking tours introduce you to different aspects of Sydney's history. Each one features a clear map with numbered points of interest, detours and museum stops suggested along the way. All of these tours take 1 to 2 hours to complete.

Barani/Barrabugu (Yesterday/Tomorrow)

Showcases Aboriginal culture and history in the local area.

Aboriginal history and culture

Tour Places visited About the tour
Barani/Barrabugu (PDF 3.0 MB)
  • Glebe
  • Redfern
  • City centre
  • City east
This walking tour highlights Sydney's Aboriginal journey: Its places, its history and its people. Includes a mix of historical sites and cultural venues.

Walking apps

Tour About the tour

Sydney Culture Walks

Available on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

 

Explore more than 400 of Sydney’s historical and public art points of interest and be guided on 10 walking tours curated by the City of Sydney. Prefer to see what’s close to you or interested in a particular work? Simply filter through hundreds of points of interest by location, type or theme. 

Old Irish Sydney walk

Available on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Discover Sydney’s Irish past on a walking tour that takes you on a journey through the city. The tour is simple to follow with a GPS-enabled map of the route and stops. At each stop, detailed text, audio commentary and stunning historical imagery reveal the stories of the Irish characters, events and architecture that shaped Sydney. This tour provides a valuable reference and introduction to the history of the Irish in Sydney that can be enjoyed outdoors or at home.

City centre

Tour Places visited About the tour
Colony (PDF 1.7 MB)
  • Circular Quay
  • Millers Point
  • The Rocks  

Convicts, soldiers, whalers and sailors all walked this route. Remnants and traces of these early times can still be found among the bustling city streets.


Also available in:


Chinese (PDF 1.0 MB)Japanese (PDF 758.6 KB)Korean (PDF 1003 KB)

 

Community (PDF 1.3 MB)
  • Town Hall
  • Spanish Quarter
  • Chinatown
  • Hyde Park

Takes you from Town Hall to what was once the industrial backyard of Sydney and today contains its Spanish Quarter and Chinatown. Includes what is along arguably the most significant 20th century Aboriginal site in the local area.


Also available in:


Chinese (PDF 924.6 KB)Japanese (PDF 619.9 KB)Korean (PDF 834.5 KB)

 

Exchange (PDF 1.2 MB)
  • Martin Place
  • George Street
  • Pitt Street

Much of Sydney's commercial history can be seen in its buildings. This walk will take you from St James Station through the heart of the financial and retail district. You'll see the architectural features of key buildings and learn the history behind them. Finishes at the former Mark Foys Department Store.

Hidden (PDF 1.0 MB)
  • Pitt Street
  • Circular Quay

A series of informal paths behind Sydney's earliest main streets gave the settlers access to rear gardens, stables and storage areas. Over time, other laneways developed to provide rear access to the commercial buildings that came to dominate the area. Whether charming hidden gem or grungy service lane, they all contribute to the tapestry of the city.

Skirting Sydney (820.5 KB)
  • The Rocks
  • Martin Place

This tour pinpoints key sites where girls and women lived and worked, where they were educated and entertained, and where pioneering activist women held meetings, published journals and sometimes in the process expanded the possibilities for all women's lives.

Walk on water (PDF 2.1 MB)
  • Haymarket
  • Hyde Park
  • Royal Botanic Gardens
This walk is a guide to Sydney's water features and was developed in conjunction with the historical exhibition 'Water, Water Everywhere'. Thirty different water features are identified on the map, which also features photographs and historical information.

City east

Tour Places visited About the tour
Parade (PDF 1.1 MB)
  • Darlinghurst
  • Paddington
Oxford Street has hosted many parades: military and celebratory, ceremonial and political. Journey from the start of this long strip at Hyde Park in the city to Centennial Park in Paddington to discover the evolution of this cosmopolitan area.
Passion (PDF 1.2 MB)
  • Kings Cross
  • Woolloomooloo
Kings Cross and its adjoining locales have a rich and risque history. Departing from Kings Cross Station, this circular route uncovers the history of Australia's most famous red light district.
Strip on the strip (3.8 MB)
  • Kings Cross
Part guide, part history, this booklet presents the stories that inspired the bronze street plaques set in the pavement of Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross. Each story highlights the colour, diversity and wit of the bohemians and artists, entrepreneurs, residents and business owners of Kings Cross.

City west

Tour Places visited About the tour
Gritty (PDF 1.2 MB) 
  •  Newtown
Although it began as a rural outpost scattered with ‘gentleman’s estates’, Newtown became increasingly populous with the coming of the railway in 1855.
Port (PDF 1.3 MB)
  • Pyrmont
  • Ultimo
In past decades, the Pyrmont-Ultimo peninsula was Sydney's industrial heartland, with its wharves, goods yards, woolstores and factories. Departing from Pyrmont Bridge, the tour visits key sites while exploring an often overlooked Sydney community.
Preservation (PDF 1.2 MB)
  • Glebe
Glebe has always been a place of contrasts. This tour explores the areas fascinating built environment and its long history of bohemian lifestyle, activism and intellectual pursuits.
Renewal (PDF 2.4 MB)
  • Ultimo
  • Darling Harbour
Until 1850, Ultimo was semi-rural, with cornfields and cow paddocks. Members of the Gadigal people still harvested cockles on its foreshores. When the landscape was remade by sandstone quarrying and a new railway and goods yard, the suburb became crowded with factories, woolstores and workers’ housing. Eventually, its industrial sites were adapted for entertainment and education.

Rock and Roll Walks of Fame and Shame

Tour Places visited About the tour
City to Pyrmont (PDF 5.5 MB)
Download MP3 (19.5 MB)
  • City centre
  • Ultimo
  • Pyrmont
We traverse the city to discover what remains of your favourite city centre venues then go across to Ultimo and Pyrmont to visit the site of the world famous Festival Records, itself a virtual corporate jukebox of Australian rock history. Finally we examine the place where bands as diverse as Sherbet and Nirvana made their mark on the Australian music scene.
King Street and Enmore Road (PDF 2.0 MB)
Download MP3 (14.8 MB)
  • Newtown
  • Erskineville
  • Enmore
Some of Sydney's music scene was based in Newtown and the adjoining suburbs Erskineville and Enmore. On this tour we take you along City Road to King Street, Enmore Road and beyond. Features John Kennedy (the king of King Street), Brad Shepherd of the Hoodoo Gurus and musician, manger and Ivy League label boss, Andy Kelly.
Oxford Street (PDF 1.7 MB)
Download MP3 (21.1 MB)
  • Darlinghurst
  • Paddington
This journey takes you along Oxford Street and back to when the music of the '60s, '70s and '80s changed the face of rock'n'roll in Sydney. You'll visit the locations, hear the songs and listen to guest voices from Sydney's legendary past. Features Radio Birdman, Mental as Anything, The Missing Links and many more.
Surry Hills to Kings Cross (PDF 6.7 MB)
Download MP3 (20.1 MB)
  • Surry Hills
  • Potts Point
Revisit all the great live venues near Central Station and Surry Hills that gave birth to new music in the '70s, '80s and beyond. Then travel down memory lane to Kings Cross to track the history of its notorious late night clubs.

Last updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2014