Convicts and The Rocks: Sydney's Walking Tour Led by Historian

Badge of ExcellenceSydney, Australia
Convict Colony Walking Tour The Bizarre British Experiment Behind Sydney
  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


Head to The Rocks to learn about Sydney’s colorful past. Your historian guide will regale you with stories of the first convicts to arrive in Sydney, their early experiences in Australia, and how they ultimately transformed a shanty camp to an enduring settlement. Listen to tales of street gangs, see the city’s oldest cottage, visit the Customs House, and check out maps and murals of old and new Sydney.
  • Learn the true stories behind Sydney’s convict past
  • Historian guide leads 2-hour walking tour
  • Entrance to historic buildings included
  • Local guide answers questions and shares insider tips

What's Included

  • A local Sydney crime historian as your tour guide
  • 2.5 hour walking tour covering approximately 20 historic sites and stories
  • Tour finishes in the heart of The Rocks beside historic pubs and cafes with local recommendations
  • A visit inside Customs House to discover scale model of Sydney from above
  • A visual folder with historic imagery, maps and portraits of the area presented by your guide
  • Food is not included on this tour, but your tour guide will have fantastic local recommendations
  • Gratuities

Meeting And Pickup

Meeting point

  • Customs House
    31 Alfred St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

    This tour meets in front of CUSTOMS HOUSE (31 Alfred Street Circular Quay). Your guide will be located outside the building on right hand-side if facing the entrance. Your guide will have a white tour folder that says CONVICT HISTORY TOUR and will check you in.

Start time

10:30 AM

End point

  • Endeavour Tap Rooms
    39/43 Argyle St, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia

What To Expect

Journey Walks

10 minutesAdmission Ticket Free

Customs House

10 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Macquarie Place Park

20 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Tank Stream Fountain

10 minutesAdmission Ticket Free

The Rocks

1 hour 20 minutesAdmission Ticket Free

The Argyle

10 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • We continue our tours in all weather conditions so please dress accordingly. Umbrella's are a good idea if wet weather seems likely.
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Due to the layout of The Rocks, some stairs are unavoidable at certain points along the way, but majority of the route follows flat terrain.
  • Anyone requiring special assistance is kindly asked to make contact with your local operator in advance.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are advised that this tour may include the names and images of people who are now deceased.
  • Your guide is a native English speaker and will carry tour folder with A3 size images to help illustrate the area's past
  • Near public transportation
  • Groups are kept small (10 person maximum) and we encourage questions and interaction.
  • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
  • Most travelers can participate
  • Your guide will ensure that Covid-safe social distancing measures and a contact free policy is in place throughout the tour
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 15 travelers

Cancellation Policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.

Traveler Photos

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270 reviews
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travelers.
Showing 1-10 of 270 reviews
The 'WALK BACK' in time
Kevin_K, Mar 2024
The walking tour was excellent from start to finish 👏 . Our tour guide Beckie was very knowledgeable and dealt with all questions with interest and intusium.
Too experience
Vena_C, Mar 2024
Fantastic guide so knowledgeable. Would recommend this tour interesting, entertaining and an easy walk.
Max walked us through history and brought it alive.
John_L, Mar 2024
This tour brings alive early history of the rocks and why that location was important to the development of Sydney and the larger region. Our guide, Max, is a history teacher and that was evident in the way he wove the history and culture together to help us develop a feeling for what that place was/is about.
Fantastic Tour
Katytrumbo, Feb 2024
Rebecca was a fantastic tour guide. She wove the whole tour into a wonderful history lesson about the Rocks and Sydney. I would definitely recommend this tour!!
Best Tour in Sydney to the Max!
Chip_G, Feb 2024
Max was our guide. He was simply the best guide we had in the three weeks in Australia (about 10 different tours). Besides completely knowing the subject, Max wove the history of the US into the history of Australia. Max provided anecdotes about each stop and foreshadowed future stops that became so much more meaningful when we got to that next stop. There was a lot of walking, but Max was patient, kept our group together and gave rest (and shade) when we needed it. Max was funny, informative and helpful. He offered suggestions on other things to do and see in Sydney. We were ready to sign up for his class. If you have any interest in better understanding the history and culture of Sydney, please sign up for this tour and specify Max.
Excellent and informative tour
Paul_C, Jan 2024
Excellent tour Guide was very interesting and the history of how Sydney was discovered and developed from the early settlers into todays city was fascinating So much to discover which you would not know and the stories and tour was run by the guide in a very friendly and engaging manner. Definitely a must do on a visit to Sydney
You pretty much go...
Vigen_S, Jan 2024
You pretty much go through history of city and surrounding area from Ice age to modern days. Although you cover a lot of places the walk is organized very well so it isn’t hard to do. Most important our guide was very knowledgable and also gave us recommendations to go to other places like Governor’s House for free tour.
Excellent history and tour
Kimberly_B, Nov 2023
Loved the history with the tour of the Rocks. Could really imagine the challenges the Colonizers faced. Max was engaging and a great tour Guide.
Fascinating, fact filled, excellent tour guide
Tracy_G, Nov 2023
Max was extremely knowledgeable about the entire history of the region. Just a fabulous tour- one of the best!
Best tour I’ve ever taken, and I’ve taken a lot
Julia_P, Oct 2023
Pete was an absolutely phenomenal guide. He was so nice and incredibly knowledgeable about Sydney’s convict history. It was so enjoyable to listen to him tell numerous stories about the arrival of convicts to Australia, how they interacted with the Aboriginal people they encountered, and how the city of Sydney developed. I would highly recommend this tour and hope to take another tour with Pete someday.
Very enjoyable tour, all...
Maya_K, Sep 2023
Very enjoyable tour, all done at a good pace, our guide Pete was vey knowledgeable & and obliging, leading the tour quite a bit longer as we were all interested in what he had to tell us. We only had 11 people in our group, which was perfect!! Loved it ❤️🥰
Interesting and Jistorucal
Felicity_C, Sep 2023
Interesting view into early days of life in Sydney Cove. Max was knowledgeable and made the tour worthwhile.
Informative and fun
Louise_J, Sep 2023
Had a very informative walk. He was knowledge and had such enthusiasm. Took us to some great parts of the rock which could easily have walked pasted and not realised. It ran a bit longer than expected but was definitely value for money.
Well worth doing
Susan_H, Sep 2023
Very interesting and informative and a great tour. Well paced so not too strenuous. The guide was very knowledgable and an obvious expert
Fantastic history tour of...
William_W, Aug 2023
Fantastic history tour of the early colony of Australia and the Rocks. Very entertaining and informative.
A Wild History
Megan_G, Aug 2023
It would be hard to say which was my favourite part of the trip as every time we went to a new area or attraction Max would have new and interesting stories to tell. I loved learning how the names of places came to be what they are. Max is passionate and informed. Highly recommend this tour.
Best tour out there
Cate_E, Aug 2023
This was one of the best tours I've been on. Full of interesting history, sights, and moments. Thank you for the wonderful insights into Sydney's early years.
A must-do!
Katherine_B, Jun 2023
There were only three of us on this tour, so it was private and we could ask lots of questions. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and you could tell he loved the history of the this area.
Excellent, very interesting!!
Joyce_J, Jun 2023
Peter was extremely knowledgeable, warm and personable. He showed us special places we would not have found on our own.
Could not have been better.
Laura_I, May 2023
Max was a fantastic guide, knowledgeable and friendly. Very engaged with the group. We could tell he enjoyed teaching asked some great questions and answered all of ours.
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