The Millers Point Historical Walking Tour

This project has taken a bit of a turn. Within my last blog post I have mentioned that I was thinking of creating a video for the Millers Point Community Resident Action Group. Well things can change quite unexpectedly. Prior to my previous blog post I was still waiting on the volunteer work that I would do for this organization. However, I received a phone call after I had just finished work, from the President explaining to me what I could do. This work would include collating a number of Conservation Management Plans of buildings around Millers Point that could be easily accessed by the organization. After a discussion with my mum on how I could use this as part of my project, it was deciding that I would create a walking tour of a number of sites using the information providing within these management plans. So the Millers Point Historical Walking Tour was born.

I had received a list on which management plans needed to be collected, however some of these I have been unable to collect, namely the more popular sites such as the Palisade Hotel and the Lord Nelson Hotel (that one has quite a story). After reviewing these management plans, I have learned a lot about Millers Point and The Rocks, particularly that of the Bubonic Plague Outbreak as well as the resuming of the many of the properties within Millers Point and The Rocks by the Sydney Harbor Trust.

For this walking tour I decided to go with 10 sites, where I would write a brief description of the history of the site. I included the history of sites that might not be as well known as hotels or pubs because I feel that these small terraces do hold a history of their own for Millers Point and The Rocks. Many of these terraces were built as rental properties by wealthy families such as the Merrimans, which helps reveal the property market and local economy of the late 18th and early 20th century. As well as this, these are the original homes that made up the streetscape of this era, helping show the original layout of Millers Point and The Rocks.

The route for this walking tour begins at the Abraham Mott Hall and continues as follows:

  • The Lord Nelson Hotel
  • Argyle Place Terraces
  • Cole’s Buildings (23-32 Argyle Place)
  • Garrison Church
  • The Hero of Waterloo Hotel
  • Windmill Street Terraces
  • Dalgety Terraces (11-13 Dalgety Street)
  • The Palisade Hotel
  • High Street Terraces
  • St Brigid’s Church

Included is a map of the route.

The only main challenges I experienced in the creation of this walking tour surround gathering information for the more well known sites as well as finding historical photographs. While the majority of information that has been used in these descriptions were found within the Conservation Management Plans, I had to search within the NSW Heritage Register. While not as detailed, it still provided me with enough information. The majority of photographs used within this project were found within the City of Sydney Achieves, the NSW State Library Collections and the Conservation Management Plans. However for some locations I was unable to find any photographs. As well as this, I couldn’t really find any ‘old’ photographs. Well I mean old as in older than 1980. While a few of these images pre date 1910, I feel I could have really better expressed this history through photographs from the time.

I have decided to create a printed pamphlet that contains this walking tour, where people can grab one from the community center and begin their journey. However I feel that this alone will not be a long term plan. To maintain the longevity of this walking tour, I have proposed an idea of having a QR code that can be scanned that will provide a digital version of the walking tour, however I have not heard back about this idea.

Ultimately, the driving force behind this walking tour is to help promote the use of heritage listing as well as maintaining the history of one of Sydney’s oldest suburbs. Particularly during a time of development and remodeling, this is a important location in helping express Sydney’s history. By maintaining Millers Point and similar suburbs, their history and stories continue to live. While not as grandeur as the historical towns found in Bendigo or the U.S, this can at least give us a glimpse of the past and the original streetscape that has remained (mostly) unchanged.

Millers Point United: The History of the Millers Point Resident Community Action Group

For this major project, I am working with the Millers Point Resident Community Action Group. Located around Sydney Harbor, this group encompasses the suburbs of Millers Point, Dawes Point, Walsh Bay and The Rocks as well as Barangaroo. With over 50 years of history, the Millers Point Resident Community Action Group aims at advocating on behalf or residents within Sydney Harbor, particularly around the preservation of these suburbs as well as improve the safety and amenities within this area.

I first discovered this group on my weekly drives with my family around the city, where we would pass through The Rocks and the community center that this organization uses, the Abraham Mott Hall. My interest in the group started from a sign placed in front of this hall with the statement “Don’t Block the Rocks.” Further research through a page online would lead me to discover this group. Having some basic understanding of the kind of activism that took place within the 1970s around the preservation of The Rocks and surrounding suburbs, I was interested in delving into the history of the organizations behind this and reached out to the Millers Point Resident Community Action Group.

The Abraham Mott Hall, Argyle Pl, Millers Point, taken by Dallas Rogers of The Conversation.

After contacting the organization’s secretary, I was invited one of the organizations meeting, where NSW government officials presented a proposal to construct an additional seating area for on of the finger wharfs in Walsh Bay. After the meeting concluded, I was able to meet with individuals of the organization, which included one of the oldest members of the group (in terms of membership) as well as the president. After explaining this project to them, I feel that they certainly did express interest in the project, however discussions on what project should be done are still in discussion.

However, for this project I have come up with some ideas. One of the main ideas I have is a video that discusses the history of the organization. In this idea, I plan on interviewing members of the organization as well as exploring the organization’s archives for additional information. I feel that by using oral history, I can bring light to individual experiences of members, particularly through a video as opposed to just plain text.

From this project, I feel that a historical research project may be of great benefit for the organization. Primarily, I feel that it will help bring to light some of the history that this organization offers in shaping the landscape of the Millers Point area. After looking through the organization’s website, there is a limited emphasis on its history, despite its influence in preserving the heritage of the suburbs around Millers Point. As well as this, I feel that a video would present its history in an engaging manner.

I think one major challenge for this project will be the consideration of time. While this should be completed by the 25th of November, I feel that the time needed to gather the history from members, as well as dedicating time to researching the archives and actual filming and editing pose a significant challenge.

Link to Millers Point Resident Community Action Group website:

Link to image: