Sydney Harbour YHA, The Rocks And Memories of Backpacking


A short walk away from Circular Quay and the touristy strip is a section of underused area of Sydney. This area is still part of The Rocks. It was a busy hub back in the 1800’s.

In the next photo, you can see the 5 star Shangri La hotel. It has a great bar high near the top with views of unimpeded sunset. Next to it, is the Quay West – expensive residential. Behind it is another expensive residential building known as The Cove. And in the fore and low ground is the Sydney Harbour YHA.


Half of the compound surrounded by an aluminium mesh fence. I like the way they have done the fencing. The ground is the excavated and exposed ground of old buildings from 1800’s. The YHA is build on top.


Back in the last century when the internet was not around, a lot of backpackers would be armed with a YHA hostel directory, the size of a paperback. You would somehow find and book your hostel with this. And each hostel description would be accompanied with a map of the location.


I certainly made use of the YHA directory and the problem was the maps were not to scale at all. Some hostels would be a short walk from the coach or train station. Others were deceptively much longer.

No Kindle back in those days and I would have carried about 3-5 kgs of books at any one time (1/3 read, 1/3 current, 1/3 to be read). They were important for my solo journeys. The read ones would eventually be mailed home so at least my lively presence was still felt back at home (I was hopeless at sending post cards and letters). Maybe another 1-2 kgs of food for self catering. Good thing was I only had 3 pieces of electronic gadgets – a shaver, a camera and a Walkman (three reversible tapes of 90 minutes each and maybe packing a whopping 100 songs all up). This must have been another kg. Warm clothes for the inclement Europe weather etc. All up, probably 15-20kgs, quite a load for my feet. I remember walking for 30 minutes in whipping rain in South of England to one of these hostels. The one in Bath was probably 40 mins up a hill. Others were on cobbled stones – charming and fantastic for photos, but dreadful for the feet.




On top of the YHA hostel, is also a roof top terrace, from which you can see the Opera House.





If The Australian is packed, The Glenmore Hotel, about another 100 metres, is also great for food and drinks on its rooftop garden.







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