Cadmans Cottage

Sydney's oldest surviving residential building, one of the last remaining of the original colony.

TravelCurious Tip

The opening hours of Cadmans Cottage can be erratic and inconsistent with listings online – it is best to incorporate your visit into a broader tour of the area, just in case.

Located on the western side of Circular Quay, Cadmans Cottage has the distinction of being the oldest surviving residential building in Sydney, and the city’s third oldest building of any kind. It was built in 1816, less than thirty years after the arrival of the original colonist party in 1788. These early settlers relied on the efficient organisation of the harbour for their survival, and it was the job of the government coxswain to oversee the collection and distribution of the produce coming in on the government boats. This man and his crew needed quarters from which to operate and live, and it was to satisfy this need that Cadmans Cottage was built.

Casa de Cadman

The place is named after John Cadman, who was coxswain here for 18 years. He had arrived in Australia at the age of 25 in 1797, convicted of stealing a horse. It took another 24 years for Governor Macquarie to finally pardon him, and six years after that he landed the job of government coxswain.

Receding Tides

Things have changed quite a bit since John’s day. When he and his family occupied the cottage, the tide used to come to within three metres of the outer walls. Now, however, the reclamation of land during the building of Circular Quay means that the water is now almost a hundred metres distant. In 1976 custody of the building was passed to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and after a thorough renovation it was reopened as a kind of mini-museum. There is not a huge amount to see here, and the real merit of the building lies in its historic importance to Sydney.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Sydney
Sydney Opera House
One of the most iconic buildings of the modern era, designed by Jorn Utzon and opened in 1973.
Port Jackson
This natural inlet was the first site of European colonisation in Australia.
Circular Quay
The main departure point for most of Sydney's ferries; see if you can spot the man with the didgeridoo.
The Rocks
Established shortly after Sydney's formation and now in the shadow of the harbour bridge, this neighbourhood has character in spades - and the city's oldest pubs.
The Rocks Discovery Museum
A museum charting the history of The Rocks from pre-European times to the modern day.
Harbour Cruise
Getting out on the water is the best way to see Sydney in all its glory.

Related Tours

The Rocks: Convicts and Rebellion private tour
Hidden to some degree under the shadow of the Harbour Bridge, The Rocks neighbourhood is as old as Sydney itself.  Although gentrified these days, The Rocks retains the old architecture, historic pubs and mazy streets of its turbulent and fascinating past.

History of Convicts and Rebellion

You will start your tour at The Rocks Discovery Museum which chronicles the remarkable history of the area all the way from pre-European times to the modern day.  This will serve as a light overview for the tour to come, moving from the British landing in 1788, to the convict struggles in the 19th century, to the transformations that have shaped The Rocks we see today.

The chief of these changes is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which looms over the historic Rocks as a constant reminder of modernisation.  Your guide will walk you and talk you through the ins and outs of this world-famous bridge that was at the cutting-edge of architectural design when it opened in 1932.

Pubs and Eateries

With its rough, working-class, convict roots, it is no surprise that the oldest, most-atmospheric pubs can be found in The Rocks.  Your guide will take you past three of the oldest: Fortune of War, the Lord Nelson Brewery and the Hero of Waterloo, and there’ll certainly be time to have a quick taste.  On their sandstone facades, be sure to look closely for the fine etchings made by generations of convicts.

Finally, you will be taken through more alleyways to Cadman’s Cottage, one of the oldest and best preserved buildings in Sydney.


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