The Rocks is one of Sydney's most historic areas, a favourite of tourists and locals alike. As the oldest area of Sydney, The Rocks features a wonderful mix of past and present. The Russell was one of the first hotels in the rocks and maintains our emphasis on old world charm and personable service to this day.
The Rocks was the first European settlement in Australia, established by Captain Arthur Phillip of England in 1788. Originally settled as a penal colony, convicts were tasked with the job of erecting government buildings and housing for officials. These original buildings were built using hand-made bricks or blocks of local sandstone - hence the name "The Rocks."
The Rocks has the most historic buildings in Sydney. The oldest building in the Rocks is the Cadman's Cottage - one of only a few remaining buildings from the first 30 years of the colony. The cottage is named after John Cadman, a convict later employed by the Government as a Coxswain that lived there for 19 years. The Cadman Cottage now operates as a museum and home of the Sydney Harbour National Park Information Centre.
In 1900, the bubonic plague struck Sydney. Many worried that the historic and densely populated Rocks area would be the worst hit. Although only three people in The Rocks died of plague, the Government bought the area and resumed it. Parts of The Rocks were demolished, but luckily many remained.
The construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 1920's required the demolition of hundreds more building in The Rocks. Further construction developments, such as the Cahill Expressway in the 1950's, caused more alteration to character and landscape of The Rocks.
In 1970, the Government turned The Rocks over to the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority. The Authority planned to demolish and redevelop The Rocks. Local residents formed The Rocks Residents Group in opposition, putting forth a plan to preserve and rebuild the historic Rocks. The Rocks Residents Group ultimately won in the end - instead of redeveloping The Rocks and losing countless historic sites, The Rocks has been renovated and preserved as a premier historical area.