I had always wondered what were the point of these walking tours, having first seen them when travelling through Europe. I thought what cold they really show me or teach me what I couldn’t find out by myself by just wandering the streets through the city. So to be honest I had never ever planned to take one of these day tours especially in my home country even though I hadn’t spent much time in Sydney.
This all changed though when I came to Australia and met my mum in Sydney wondering what we could actually enjoy together even though our styles of travel are completely different. My mum being a tour person and me being more of an independent traveller. Looking through travel brochures we came across the ‘Free Sydney Walking Tours ‘ advertisement and that’s when I thought why not give one of these a try. You may not enjoy it Chris but it is something your mum would like to do.
The Tour Guides
It’s so easy to find these guides as the twice daily tours start at 10:30 and 14:30 in the square next to the town hall. It’s impossible to miss your guide as they wear bright green T-shirts with the logo I’m Free Sydney walking tours.
We were fortunate to be guided by co-founders Ross and Justine a couple who started the company six years ago after returning from Europe and finding that there were no walking tours for the tourists who come to Sydney.
Being born and raised in Sydney they both have a wealth of knowledge about the city from the history of the city, to the architecture sights and restaurants and bars. You will learn something valuable about the city.
What the tour covers
Sydney Opera House The Harbour Bridge
The Rock’s District Cadman’s Cottage
Hyde Park Barracks The ‘Rum’ Hospital
St Mary’s Cathedral Custom’s House
Parliament House Macquarie Street
Hidden Bar culture Queen Victoria Building
Laneways & Art Pitt Street Shopping Mall
Martin Place Sydney Tower
Hyde Park Circular Quay
Town Hall Sydney’s Oldest Cemetry
Hilton Bombing Underground Tunnels
Underground Tunnels St Andrew’s Cathedral
St Andrew’s Cathedral Museum of Currency and Notes
You don’t actually enter any of the buildings while on tour they give you an introduction to its history and relevance to Sydney.
Highlights of the tour
Anyone who comes to Sydney can find Circular Quay, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House by themselves of course they are the real highlights of Sydney and shouldn’t be missed but you don’t need to take a Sydney Walking Tour for this. The real highlights are the things that you wouldn’t be able to find by yourself or would get lost looking for it or not knowing it even existed.
Lane ways and Art
So personally the real highlight is the art scene and local alleyways that you walk down on these tours. The best one is the variety of bird cages hanging in the alley. The art is so simple but it certainly catches your attention.
The Rum Hospital
The history behind the first hospital in Sydney is unique as it was founded basically on the sales of rum. The builders were allowed to import to import 60,000 gallons of rum.
Further inspections of the building were made and were found that the buildings foundations were sub standard and short cuts had been taken in its construction.
Sydney Customs House
Customs House in Sydney Australia is located at the foot of the city central at Circular Quay. The building was originally used as a customs house for the many ships and boats arriving at Sydney, becoming a primary focal point for trade for over 150 years.
Inside has a small scaled model of the city that is worth looking at
Is the tour really free?
The tour is free if you want it to be. At the meeting point when everyone is gathered and they introduce the tour. They mention giving the guide a tip. It is also suggested again at the closing of the tour. My mum gave the guide $10 at the end of the tour for both of us. Not bad for a three hour tour.
10:30am and 2:30pm Every Day (excluding Christmas Day, 25th December). The Rocks tour 6:00pm
Town Hall Square, on George St between Sydney Town Hall and St Andrew’s Cathedral. http://www.imfree.com.au