Revisiting ghosts of the past at The Rocks in Sydney

Revisiting ghosts of the past at The Rocks in Sydney

History meets modern-day buzz along the uneven cobblestones of everyone’s favourite weekend haunt in these parts – The Rocks in Sydney.

The Rocks mark the birthplace of modern Sydney, with an intricate history that dates from its shady beginnings when convicts first settled to the contemporary home of Sydney’s most creative and cultural.

Walking tours

If you’re thinking walking tours are the last thing you’d want to do at The Rocks, prepare to be proven wrong!

The Rocks holds some of the best walking tours in Sydney, taking enraptured audiences through spine-tingling urban legends and infamous historic events every day of the week. Ever wondered about the markings on the sandstone you see everywhere in old buildings and footpaths? They were actually made by convicts who each had a unique system of markings to distinguish how many blocks each person had chiseled.

For those who are more daring, ghost tours run in the evenings taking you through the torch and lantern-lit laneways once home to street gangs, dank seedy bars and a rampant outbreak of the plague.

Sydney Liam Barrett rockswalkingtour

Weekend Markets

The Rocks Markets are an enduring highlight for visitors, and some of the nicest markets in the city. Here, the markets are open from 10am to 5pm every weekend all year round offering 200 stalls stacked with an eclectic range of homewares, beauty products and art.

For locals, these markets give a taste for Sydney’s diverse mix of cultures and art. Wander through and you’ll find your senses engulfed by the delectable allure of Turkish gozleme, the colourful arrangement of fresh fruit or the ingenuity of artworks made from cutlery. Whatever crazy idea you’re looking for to spice up your weekend, take your pick here.

Sydney Liam Barrett rocksmarket

Museum of Contemporary Art

The MCA is one of Sydney’s standout museums, not just for its extensive collection of contemporary art sourced from high-performing artists worldwide, but also for being a constant hub of special events.

From its current (2016) showcase of international artists in the Biennale to the annual participation in the now famous Vivid light show, transforming the building into a work of art, the MCA is constantly buzzing with vibrant activity throughout the year.

Sydney Liam Barrett MOCA

An Illustrious nightlife

If you’re looking for a classy night out away from the loudness of Sydney’s mainstream bars and restaurants, The Rocks offers a refined strip of small restaurants and bars – quieter and less pretentious. A standout is Hero of Waterloo, a sandstone bar and restaurant built over 170 years ago with a colourful history of rum-smuggling in its famous underground tunnels.

Sydney Liam Barrett rocksbars

By Liam Barrett. Feature image by Dieter Bethke (Flickr creative commons).


Explore The Grounds of Alexandria, Sydney

Explore The Grounds of Alexandria, Sydney

It’s a haven for foodies, market-lovers and families – The Grounds in Alexandria is one of the hottest café spots to experience and workout your tastebuds in Sydney. Located in an old pie factory from the 1900’s, The Grounds is now a whimsical secret garden that has a rustic/industrial feel. From the outside you never expect such a sanctuary to exist – a lovely surprise making you feel like a kid in a candy store, wide-eyed and excited to explore. On any given weekend The Grounds is jam-packed with visitors, especially over the ‘holiday weekends’ which hosts sprawling market stalls and live music.


Here’s why it’s a perfect spot to check out – explore The Grounds of Alexandria

Kevin Bacon calls it home

Unfortunately not the actor, but The Grounds has its own Kevin Bacon celebrity – a lovable pig who made headlines all over the country for being kidnapped last year. He is now safely back home and can be seen lapping up the attention in his barn. Along with Kevin Bacon, there are sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits and more in the petting zoo area.

The Grounds of Alexandria - Kevin Bacon

Greenhouse garden dining

For a dining experience that’ll make you feel like you’re in a greenhouse garden, drop by The Potting Shed. With hanging plants, flowerpots and garden tools everywhere, this venue is one of a kind. It also features a funky bar offering an extensive cocktail list and wine menu. The venue even has its own resident pet, Fluffy, a magnificent blue and yellow macaw that is perched freely on top of its cage and playing happily amongst the diners. What’s great about The Potting Shed is it’s open till midnight and the food is scrumptious, and surprisingly well priced. Some highlight dishes include the steamed black mussels, bite-sized pork-belly buns and buttermilk popcorn chicken. On the beverage side be sure to try a cocktail – my drink of choice is the Toiler’s Tonic.

Coffee is their passion

The Grounds is renowned for its coffee and it would be a sin if you didn’t get your caffeine fix here. With a coffee research and testing facility on-site – they mean serious business when it comes to brewing the perfect cup of coffee. Sourcing the finest beans from all over the world including Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and India, The Grounds constantly change blends (largely determined by seasonality) to ensure the best-flavoured coffee is produced.

Tip: While waiting for a table at The Potting Shed, grab a coffee and sit in the main garden area.

The Grounds of Alexandria

Eat your heart out

On premises is the Salt Meats Cheese venue, a warehouse-style delicatessen offering the finest products stocked sky-high – from olives, antipasto, dips, truffles, prosciutto, cheeses, jams, gelato, pasta and more. It’s a gourmet foodie’s dream but it doesn’t stop there, with Italian cooking classes also available to indulge in. Each weekend they run classes in making fresh pasta and ravioli, woodfire oven pizzas (matched with a glass of wine) and mozzarella. It’s a great activity for families, friends and groups – bound to produce a lot of laughs and tasty treats in the process.

Find The Grounds of Alexandria at Building 7A/2 Huntley Street, Alexandria

Have you explored The Grounds of Alexandria? Tell us what you think.

The Grounds of Alexandria

About the writer
Danielle Muller (@stuffitgotravel) is a Sydney-based travel blogger and communications professional. Follow her travel adventures, stories and recommendations at

Bedazzled by Balmain in Sydney

Bedazzled by Balmain in Sydney

One of the most stunning suburbs I’ve come across on my travels around New South Wales is Balmain in Sydney. Located on the foreshore of Sydney’s harbour, Balmain is a chic and colourful neighborhood full of charm. Its million dollar views alone will leave you breathless.

The moment I arrived on Darling Street, Balmain’s main thoroughfare, I was bedazzled by the number of boutique shops, galleries, eateries, coffee shops and bars/pubs at my fingertips. Packed with locals and tourists – it’s a perfect destination to grab a bite to eat and relax and unwind. What makes Balmain pretty unique is it has a strong sense of community – something rarely found in inner Sydney.

Be warned the price doesn’t come cheap to be a part of this inner-city dream (trust me I’ve checked multiple times), and being 6km from the CBD with Sydney Harbour as your backyard pretty much explains why. For those who call Balmain home I envy you, you’re living in one of the most beautiful suburbs in Australia and maybe the world.

If a visit to Sydney is on the cards then Balmain should definitely be on your itinerary. Recently I explored this suburb and now I sort of wish I didn’t as I’m constantly daydreaming about going back.

Here are three cool things I got up to while exploring Balmain in Sydney

Balmain- Thyme & Basil

11am: Brunch is a staple activity for Sydney-siders and I decided to head to a funky little café called Thyme & Basil. It has a two-story outdoor deck seating area that overlooks Darling Street and is a lovely spot to soak up the sun and suburb vibes. Serving up fresh juices, aromatic coffee and hearty breakfast and lunch options, I couldn’t pass up the big breakfast and I wasn’t disappointed. Simply delicious!

Adriano Zumbo - Macaroons

1pm: Who can resist an indulgent visit to the master of macaroons, Adriano Zumbo. With a petite shabby-chic store on Darling Street – his Balmain patisserie features freshly baked tarts, brownies, artisan breads, pastries and a colourful rainbow of macaroons. My favourite flavours are butter popcorn and milkshake. You’re sure to walk away on a macaroon high.

Balmain - Adriano Zumbo

TIP: Gladstone Park is nearby and a good spot to laze about and enjoy your sweet treats!


Balmain East Foreshore view 3

2pm: As there is no better way to explore Balmain than by foot, I made my way down Darling Street heading east towards the Harbour Bridge and ferry terminal. During this trek you can’t help but gaze at the residential buildings. The closer you get to the foreshore the more spectacular they become. Once at the foreshore of Balmain East, the view is incredible. Straight ahead is the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge; on the right is Darling Harbour and Pyrmont and on the left is Goat Island. It’s easily one of the best spots to go for a stroll, take some photos and you can even throw out a blanket and enjoy an afternoon picnic in the foreshore’s Illoura Reserve area. There’s also a basketball court nestled in this reserve if you feel like shooting some hoops with a stunning backdrop.

Balmain East Foreshore view 2


How to get there

Ferries run to Balmain from Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. Alternatively you can catch the 431, 433, 441 and 442 buses from the CBD.

Balmain East Foreshore view

Have you visited Balmain? Let us know your thoughts – drop us a line in the comments below.


About the writer
Danielle Muller (@stuffitgotravel) is a Sydney-based travel blogger and communications professional. Follow her travel adventures, stories and recommendations at


Weekend retreat – travel to the Blue Mountains

Located less than two hours from Sydney is the Blue Mountains, a stunning World-Heritage listed region attracting millions of visitors each year. Not only is it a firm favourite with international visitors but it’s a popular weekend retreat for local Aussie travellers.

With spectacular natural attractions, sights and a relaxed atmosphere – the Blue Mountains is a breath of fresh air after being consumed by Sydney’s hustle bustle lifestyle. Recently I was fortunate to escape to the Mountains for a weekend full of adventure and nature gazing.

Here are my top highlights and recommended things to experience in the Blue Mountains:

Three Sisters

One of the most famous landmarks in the Blue Mountains is the Three Sisters, an unusual rock formation towering high above the Jamison Valley. Standing over 900 metres tall, the Three Sisters is a spectacular sight and offers some beautiful and intense walking tracks. There is one trail ‘The Giant Stairway’ that takes you up close to the Three Sisters and then down to the valley floor via more than 800 steps. Learn from my mistake – be prepared and go early in the day to avoid missing out of the Scenic Railway that takes you back to the top, otherwise it’s a long thigh-burning climb.

Three Sisters (Copy)

Jenolan Caves

Now this will take your breath away. The Jenolan Caves is renowned for its spectacular limestone cave formations. Dating back to at least 340 million years, the Jenolan Caves is the world’s oldest known open cave system. Fascinating thing is the cave network is so vast – it has over 40kms of multi-level passages and it’s still undergoing active exploration today. Over 250,000 tourists visit each year to get a glimpse at the cave’s magnificent limestone formations and underground rivers. There are a number of guided tours running day or night and they even have ghost tours and adventure caving for those thrill-seekers.

Jenolan Caves - inside (Copy)

Wentworth Falls

A great spot for outdoor exploring and waterfall chasing is Wentworth Falls. Suitable for all fitness levels, one of my favourite walking tacks is Fletchers Lookout– this easy graded track takes around an hour to complete (including return) and offers spanning views of Mount Solitary, Kings Tableland and Jamison Valley. During this walk you’ll comes across a lovely spot at the top of Wentworth Falls called Queen’s Cascade Falls. It’s a perfect scenic area to rest, take some photos and soak up the calming sounds of the rainforest and cascading water.

Wentworth Falls (Copy)

Yellow Deli, Katoomba

For a dining experience that makes you feel like you’re on the set of The Hobbit is the Yellow Deli. This venue is perfect for a winter’s lunch serving up hearty soups, burgers, sandwiches, herbal teas and delectable desserts. Inside its extremely cosy decorated with log-carved booths, a stone fireplace, hanging vines and dim lighting. It’s definitely a quirky place packed with diners. Overall my experience was good – the food was delicious and affordable however only downside was the service. It was a little slow but at the same point it was nice not to feel rushed as it was so cosy and relaxed inside.

Only thing to be aware of before visiting is to understand that the Yellow Deli is a religiously run venue.  At the time I didn’t even realise it until doing research afterwards. I suppose my ignorance illustrates that it’s not in your face. If you can get past the religious factor then it’s a pretty cool spot to eat in the Blue Mountains.

Yellow Deli - soups (Copy) 

Have you visited the Blue Mountains? Let us know your favourite attractions?

Queen's Cascade Falls (Copy)

About the author

Danielle Muller (@stuffitgotravel) is a Sydney-based travel blogger and communications professional. Follow her travel adventures, stories and recommendations at



The best weekend markets in Sydney

Weekend markets in Sydney are a ritual for many and they’re a great way to experience the city’s culture, food, art and fashion. You’re guaranteed to get a bargain, acquire something unique and best of all each marketplace has its own character and vibe to absorb.

Here are my recommendations for the best weekend markets in Sydney

Glebe Markets

Glebe Markets 2 (Copy) Bohemian-style suburb, Glebe hosts a vibrant marketplace featuring everything from vintage clothing, bric-a-brac, records, arts and crafts and gourmet food. Home to over 200 stalls it’s a never-ending labyrinth of diverse treasures waiting to be discovered. Why not get your bohemian-chic on and sample the multicultural food stalls, enjoy the live music and search for a vintage fashion piece or original artwork. Afterwards you can explore this hip suburb boasting numerous restaurants, cafes and retail outlets on Glebe Point Road. Located: Corner of Derby Place and Glebe Point Road, Glebe Open: 10am to 4pm (Saturdays)

Sydney Fish Markets

Sydney Fish Markets - inside (Copy) A visit to the Sydney Fish Markets always guarantees a delicious foodie experience. Packed with tourists and locals it’s a must-do attraction being the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Experience what it’s like to be in an authentic working fish market and jump on a tour to see where the seafood buyers battle it out during their morning auctions. Otherwise freely roam and observe the seafood mongers crack open oysters, finely slice tuna and work the crowds. Be sure to grab some fresh seafood for dinner or try the seafood platters featuring moray lobster, deep fried prawns, calamari, oysters and more. Located: Pyrmont Bridge Road, Pyrmont Open: 7am to 4pm (Daily, except Christmas Day)

The Rocks Markets

The Rocks Markets 2 (Copy)
Where else can you walk through the birthplace of modern-day Australia? The Rocks Markets is undoubtedly a Sydney institution attracting nearly one million visitors each year. With over 200 market stalls you can pick up anything from Australian-designed fashion items and accessories, original artwork and prints, speciality food and one-off jewellery. It’s also a lovely spot to waste the day strolling aimlessly while taking in the views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay. Located: Playfair Street, George Street and Jack Mundey Place, The Rocks Open: 10am to 5pm (Saturdays and Sundays)

Kirribilli General Markets

Kirribilli General Markets - Bradfield Park Bowling Green (Copy)
A bustling marketplace with harbour bridge views, Kirribilli Markets is your one-stop-shop for all things ‘new and recycled’ in fashion, homewares, antiques and collectables, bric-a-brac, arts and crafts, produce, plants and gourmet food. Anything is pretty much sold here running through Burton Street Tunnel and Bradfield Park Bowling Green. From emerging designers to savvy fashionistas offloading their wardrobes – you might uncover a classic designer item or handbag. Otherwise check out the random knick-knacks, children’s toys and my favourite vintage typewriters and cameras. Be sure to visit the food stalls sampling such treats as Dutch pancakes, Vietnamese Banh Mi Rolls and Dim Sum. Located: Bradfield Park – Corner of Alfred and Burton Streets, Milsons Point Open: 8.30am to 3pm – Fourth Saturday of the month (January to November) and first and third Saturday (December).

Paddington Markets

Operating since 1973 the Paddington Markets has become a popular attraction. Originally started to promote emerging fashion designers, craftspeople and artists, this bustling market features around 150 stalls showcasing various Australian-made and designed products. Check out the local fashion, sample handmade chocolates, try on cutting edge jewellery and brighten up your day with some flowers. Also don’t be afraid to bring your four legged-friends, as dogs are welcome and easily roam with their owners. Located: 395 Oxford Street, Paddington Open: 10am to 4pm (Saturdays)

Have you visited any of Sydney’s weekend markets? If so, tell us your favourite spots – drop us a line in the comments below.

About the author
Danielle Muller is a Sydney-based travel blogger and communications professional. Follow her travel adventures, stories and recommendations at