Although there are many corners in this city that I have seen and experienced, there are still also many secrets of Sydney that are yet to be discovered. One way of doing so is discovery by pure chance, the other by following a guide book.
But how much more fun is it to come together in a crowd of like-minded people on a tour and have a guide lead you along the different stations of a journey? All you need to do is find a tour operator for your Sydney tours that you can trust.
I recently tested the new player Go Local Tours, a Sydney based boutique tour guide company that specialises in small group sizes and exclusive experiences. Forget about jogging after a guy with an enormous attitude and a raised umbrella in a crowd of 50 – with Go Local the group will never exceed 12 people, and the guide will make sure everyone has the best experience.
We joined an intimate historic pub walking tour that discovered Sydney’s past through some of its oldest pubs, a perfect way of looking deep into the Australian soul. Australia, born from a convict past, has always had strong ties with grog and gangsters, so it’s clear that you should visit at least some of the pubs that have helped shape a culture and a nation.
We learned that there are six pubs in Sydney that claim to be the oldest. Fact is that they have all been established at around the same time, however, with liquor licenses not always continuously in place or premises being moved from one place to the other over time, it is really hard to tell which pub really is the oldest. But one thing is clear: almost all of these pubs are located in the Rocks, which always makes for a wonderfully romantic backdrop on a warm summer night.
The tour started, however, at the spectacular Marble Bar in the basement of the Hilton Sydney. In stark contrast to the other pubs we were going to visit that night this is a luxurious establishment, with polished exotic timber, marble surfaces and precious stained glass being the dominating materials. This gentleman’s bar surely must have been quite a sight for the people of that time, it definitely wowed us and our fellow tour participants that night. If you are interested you can check out further info on the Marble Bar in an earlier post here.
From the Marble Bar we followed George Street up to Circular Quay and The Rocks, an area that was highly frequented by sailors and servicemen at the time, and as we’re being told, still is. The pub we were having a closer look at is one of the key assembly points for servicemen which are about to be dispatched to fight in a war, the Fortune of War.
We were greeted by an entirely different atmosphere than at the Marble Bar. It was loud, it was packed, people around us were having a jolly good time. As we also learned while quenching our thirst with some beers that the pub is home to a resident ghost, Horacio. Luckily, it was so busy that night that Horacio wouldn’t make an appearance.
From here we moved on to another institution that has a history way back into the early 1800s. Opened over 170 years ago this pub has seen it all, and the blackened sandstone walls inside probably have an interesting story to tell, or two. In fact, down in the basement we were given rare access to an old tunnel that is leading to the waterfront. Used to smuggle contraband and rum as well as to kidnap and recruit drunken whalers, this tunnel comes with an authenticity that sends shivers down your spine.
Our historic pub tour finished at the famed Lord Nelson pub that also incorporates a small pub brewery. If it’s not for the cosy and inviting atmosphere of this pub, people will certainly come here to taste the 100% pure ales like the Three Sheets and the much darker Nelson’s Blood.
We concluded the 4-hour tour with sampling some of these beautiful beers.
Thanks to the team from Go Locals Tours for their insightful explanations. It’s always good to see that people in the industry are passionate about tourism and travel. Based on what I’ve seen that night, this tour is warmly recommended, not just for visitors to Sydney but also locals!
Go Local offer a range of different Sydney tours as well as tours around the world, some of them also suitable for families with children. For further info, please visit http://www.golocaltours.com.au/
Looking for more cool things to do in Sydney – look no further!