Picture tall ships in the harbor, convicts chipping away at sandstone with crude tools, horses and carts, and bawdy bars overflowing with sailors and soldiers on shore leave, and you've landed at The Rocks in the late 1700s.
This was Sydney just after European settlement. The newcomers quickly drove out the Australian indigenous Cadigal people who had inhabited the region for thousands of years prior, and went about building everything a growing community needed. Much of the historic buildings of the time survive, now making way for pubs, art galleries, studios, restaurants and touristy shops. Opposite the Opera House and right below the southern end of the Harbour Bridge, The Rocks is a great place for a wander, a meal, a drink and, on the weekends, an exploration of The Rocks Markets which are full of unusual Australian hand-made goods and curios. This is a great place to find that out of the ordinary gift for a loved one back home, all just a short stroll away from the majority of Sydney's top-quality hotels.