Walk this way
There may be an abundance of new precincts springing up in Sydney, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find hints of the past whichever way you turn. Every day we walk past buildings and streets that are imbued with history and entangled with fascinating stories. Sadly, Sydney’s rich heritage often goes unnoticed. Absorbed in our daily routine and with our heads buried in our phones, many of Sydney’s architectural gems blur into the backdrop of our busy lives. However, there is a way to open your eyes and uncover the history and culture that exists beneath the surface of our neighbourhoods.
Walking tours are commonly misperceived as tourist traps. We forget that Sydneysiders can equally benefit from curated walking tours as they offer a gateway to a new perspective on the seemingly mundane. In recent years, there has been an increase in curated walking tours across Sydney’s neighbourhoods. Rather than attempting to cover a wide area and tick items off a list, walking tours are shifting toward offering a more personal, curated adventure.
Eighteen months ago, Emiliya Collier founded ‘Culture Scouts’ walking tours to provide a local view of Sydney’s cultural hubs in a capsule experience blending art, food and guided conversations. “Tours are designed for local wayfarers and international visitors keen to learn and engage with Sydney’s diverse art and culinary scene,” she says. Led by local tour guides, the itineraries traverse galleries, cafes, shops and bars through Chippendale, Redfern, Surry Hills and Newtown.
With Sydney neighbourhoods continually reinventing themselves, walking tours provide locals with an opportunity to witness the changing city in a slow and considered way. This is reflected in the Culture Scouts business model. Whilst in the strict sense they offer ‘tours’, Emiliya notes that it is more akin to curated experiences. “There are huge benefits for locals. They don’t get just a peek, but a genuine immersion into the local creative community of Sydney. It’s almost like a buy in as once you’ve opened your eyes to the cultural hubs in Sydney you can’t let it go, and you explore more and more. In a world where we are more hyper connected than ever, but less local, I would argue that we can fan the flame of community spirit.”
Walking tours provide locals with access to parts of Sydney which they may not even know exist. “It is really exciting for international visitors, to go where the locals go and all that jazz. But it’s sometimes even more exciting for Sydneysiders. They find the little gems: small businesses with great coffee, good service, alongside artist studios and street art,” Emiliya says.
Focusing walking tours on key topics or themes, allows locals to not only expand their historical knowledge but also develop an understanding of the dynamics currently at play within their local community. “Our indigenous storytelling tour in Redfern is a favourite amongst the locals. Attendees explore the streets of Redfern learning about the indigenous history and future”. Street art tours are also popular amongst locals.“Sydney’s Inner West has some of the best examples of street art in Australia, yet many landmark artworks have disappeared in a time of intense, high-density housing construction and urban renewal … still, Sydney’s vibrant creativity continues to make itself known on the walls of public spaces, locals enjoy learning about the artists behind these pieces that they walk past every day.”
2017 Sydney Walking Tour Guide:
Learn about the diverse history and culture of the Aboriginal people of the Sydney region with an Aboriginal guide in the heart of the city. Uncover the Royal Botanic Garden’s rich Aboriginal heritage by exploring plant uses, culture, artefacts and tasting some bush foods.
Culture Scout Walking Tours provide a local view of Sydney’s cultural hubs in a capsule experience blending art, food and guided conversations.
Tread in the footsteps of the convicts, larrikin gangs & locals of the past as you share a drink in 4 of Sydney’s oldest pubs in Balmain.
Journey Walks are guided explorations of Sydney’s unique history, heritage and beauty. Specialising in storytelling, they offer walking tours that animate different themes and locations throughout Sydney. Journey Walks offer colourful perspectives on the people and places behind Sydney’s rich history.
Sydney Urban Adventures strives to pique the interest of visitors and locals by introducing them to the sights, sounds and tales of the city’s interesting history, culture and heritage in a fun, relaxed and informative way.