If you are lucky, you may be there when one of the staff members is heading out to the nearby archaeological dig – they are usually more than happy to take a few curious visitors along for the ride.
Located between Circular Quay and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks Discovery Museum is an informative, family-friendly place which tells you the history of this part of the city from the pre-colonial era to the modern day. It is housed in an atmospheric sandstone warehouse which was restored after several decades of disuse.
A Thousand Years on The Rocks
The layout of the museum is divided into four distinct historical periods. First is the Warrane period (pre-1788), named after the original moniker of Sydney Cove, during which this land was occupied by the Aboriginal Cadigal people. Next comes the Colony period (1788-1820), when the first Europeans arrived and The Rocks was established as the convicts’ side of town. After that is the longer Port period (1820-1900), which saw the area taken over by the whalers, sailors and traders who developed the burgeoning Sydney trade empire. Finally, the Transformations period (1900-present) covers everything from the 20th and 21st centuries, including the impact of war on The Rocks and an interesting series of union-led protests in the 1970s.
Interact with the Past
For what is really quite a small building, the curators have managed to pack in a huge amount of information and insight into this timeline. That is not to say that the displays are overwhelming; they are clearly and intuitively presented, incorporating a range of touch-screen activities and interactive audiovisual setups. There are also regular short films shown which give accessible historical overviews that are engaging for children and adults alike.
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