Lording it over the Rocks, but strangely tucked away, Observatory Hill is great for a picnic. Studded with huge Moreton Bay fig trees, the grassy hilltop buzzes with sweaty hill-climbing joggers, lunchtime CBD escapees and travellers taking time out or visiting the Observatory. There are brilliant harbour views.

The hill was the site of the colony’s first windmill (1796), which ground wheat until someone stole its canvas sails, the machinery was storm-damaged and the structure collapsed.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Circular Quay & The Rocks attractions

1. Sydney Observatory

0.03 MILES

Built in the 1850s, Sydney’s copper-domed, Italianate sandstone observatory squats atop Observatory Hill, overlooking the harbour. Inside is an intriguing…

2. Argyle Place

0.06 MILES

A quiet, English-style village green lined with terraced houses, Argyle Place offers the sacred appeal of Garrison Church and the more secular delights of…

3. Garrison Church

0.07 MILES

Also known as Holy Trinity (1843), this pretty sandstone Anglican church at the western end of the Argyle Cut was the colony’s first military church…

4. Argyle Cut

0.12 MILES

Convict labourers excavated this canyon-like section of road clear through the sandstone ridge that gave the Rocks its name. The work began in 1843 with…

5. The Big Dig

0.14 MILES

Before the outbreak of bubonic plague in the early 20th century and the subsequent slum clearances, this section of the Rocks was a warren of houses…

6. SH Ervin Gallery

0.15 MILES

High on the hill inside the old Fort St School (1856), the SH Ervin Gallery, though surrounded by freeway, is a pleasing oasis that exhibits invariably…

7. Susannah Place Museum

0.16 MILES

Dating from 1844, this diminutive terrace of four houses and a shop is a fascinating time capsule of life in the Rocks. A personable guide takes you…

8. Foundation Park

0.19 MILES

Thought-provoking Foundation Park is set among the preserved ruins of 1870s houses, built against the cliff face. The oversized furniture by artist Peter…