Disabled Access - NO
Food and Drink Options - YES
Tourist Attractions - YES
Transport Links - YES
Shopping Centre - NO
Nightlife - YES
Walsh Bay Wharf is situated in The Rocks area in Port Jackson and is situated close to the Harbour Bridge. Its location boasts convenient access to a number of theatres and dance studios, as well as a vast range of caf's and restaurants.
The Walsh Bay area also houses some of the most important historic and architectural sites in Sydney and forms the backbone of the famous heritage walk, which is a real must for tourists and history buffs wishing to explore the harbour whilst learning about its absorbing history.
This wharf is a perfect place to be dropped off in the evening for a show or in the afternoon for a leisurely stroll. It is also little more than a 20-minute walk from the equally engaging Circular Quay.
The fascinating heritage walk follows the panoramic foreshore under the Harbour Bridge and is a completely free, self-guided tour that takes in a mesmerising mixture of old and new, architecture and artefacts. The area is rife with historical significance, but the real story begins in January 1900, when a van driver named Arthur Payne became the first person to contract the bubonic plague in Australia. The wharf was teeming with rats around that time, so there were fears that the plague would spread, but the rats were brought under control and the outbreak was eradicated by August.
By October, the Sydney Harbour Trust has been established to rebuild the port, with new, double-decked finger wharves built with a series of bridges connecting the upper levels to the roads of Millers Point. In 1919, the wharves between Dawes point and Miller's point were named Walsh Bay after the Trust's chief engineer, HD Walsh.
The area flourished for decades, but fell into disuse in the seventies, before being revived first in the early 80s, when Pier One was transformed into a shopping centre (it's now a 5-star hotel), and again years later when the Sydney Theatre Company took over wharves 4 and 5. Today, Walsh Bay is regarded as Sydney's cultural hub, with striking modern architecture sitting happily beside heritage bond stores.
The self-guided heritage walk is a wonderful way to spend an hour or so immersed in the history of the wharf and the wharf itself is a perfect stop for an afternoon of exploration or an evening of revelry at the theatre. If you've embarked on a sightseeing cruise, you may want to plan your drop off at this wharf so you can continue exploring the rich history of Sydney.
As well as the famous history walk, the area also hosts a number of other self-guided tours. The Theatre Walk at Pier 2/3 honours 21 legends of Australian stage and screen, with individual plaques set into the historical paving stones. The names featured include screen icons such as Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Hugo Weaving, and composer and comedian Tim Minchin, amongst others.
The area is also part of the 14km Foreshore Walk, which is currently under construction, and there is also a Sculpture walk, which includes works from Jimmie Durham, Phil Price and many more. The reason most tourists visit Walsh Bay, however, is for its ties to the arts and cultural communities. The Sydney Theatre Company has held residence at the wharf since 1984 and hosts a great selection of plays and performances most nights of the week.
It also features a bar and restaurant, which boasts some pretty spectacular views of the harbour. The Sydney Dance Company also performs at the wharf and has produced hundreds of original works in its 40-year history. The area is also home to smaller performance spaces, such as the ATYP, which caters to young, amateur performers. Further inland, meanwhile, you'll find the Roselyn Packer Theatre, which seats just under 900 people. It was originally called simply the Sydney Theatre but was renamed in March 2015 for the widow of the Australian media tycoon, Kerry Packer.
Whilst the theatre might be the main draw, Walsh Bay Wharf is also an excellent location when it comes to dining, drinking and, of course, dancing. For Mediterranean food, served in an airy space with a post-modern atmosphere, consider the Sydney Dance Lounge, which, as the name suggests, is perfectly placed to provide dinner pre- or post- one of the Dance Companies famous shows.
Over at Pier 8, meanwhile, there's the casual caf' named for the pier itself, which serves seasonal food in a unique, glass-walled warehouse space. The Pier One hotel also offers locally-inspired restaurants such as the elegant Gantry restaurant and the Kerrigan outdoor smokery and grill, which offers gourmet street food in a magical setting. The perfect place to unwind with a few friends and a few beers after a long week.
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