The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre

The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre

The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre
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Duration: 1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: The Rocks
The first residents of the Rocks were convicts and sailors from the old nation. As the oldest neighborhood in the city, the area's cobblestone streets host more than 100 heritage sites and buildings, including the oldest house in Sydney, Camden Cottage, which was built in 1816. Taste a “midi “ or a “schooner” of beer and dine “al fresco” on the waterfront at some of the oldest pubs in Sydney. The weekend markets at the Rocks are where you can find local artists' hand-made souvenirs, organic food and designer jewelry in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. To enjoy some of the best Australian and international contemporary art, the MCA museum is open every day and select evenings. At the end of a long day of sightseeing, be sure to save energy to dance the night away at the area's many late night entertainment venues.
How to get there
  • Circular Quay • 5 min walk
  • Wynyard • 9 min walk
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles21 reviews
Excellent
7
Very good
12
Average
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Mairwen1
United Kingdom9,641 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2022
The Big Dig is a small but quite unique site. What you find here, is an archaeological excavation of some 30 convict homes and businesses, dating from the first days of the new colony.
Only a small part is open for display but it is free and open to the public to wander through.
Like any excavation, what’s left is mostly just remnants of bricks and foundations. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was an abandoned building site.
You need to have a lot of imagination to get an idea in your head of what it would have looked like.
However there are a number of excellent information boards that give potted histories and interesting stories of the families who lived and worked here. Photos of scenes from colonial times show ragamuffin children playing on the flagstones of the lanes and a small glass display case contains some artefacts.
My favourite story was of George Cribb, a colourful character who for a while was able to juggle a wife in England and a wife in the colony. Despite being a convict on a 14 year sentence, ran his own butcher’s shop here. I’m not sure what he was convicted of but hopefully it wasn’t murder because the authorities didn’t stop him from wielding sharp filleting knives. He built a very successful business, happily slaughtering cattle, sheep and pigs on-site, burying the carcasses alongside his shop and house. Not so happily, this resulted in him accidentally poisoning his own well. A resourceful man, he used the well instead to hide his illegal alcohol still. Although he was investigated and even arrested for bootlegging, he was never convicted because no evidence was ever found – at least not until 180 years later when the The Big Dig archaeologists got to work. You can still see the well today.
I’d highly recommend visiting The Rocks Discovery Museum after seeing The Big Dig.
The two pretty much go hand in hand because many of the household goods and artefacts recovered from the dig are on display here. It’s only a 3 - 5 minute walk away and entry is also free (see seperate review).
NOTE: Normally you would also combine The Big Dig with a visit to Susannah’s Place, a great little museum housed inside an original 1844 building right across the road. Unfortunately it’s temporarily closed, with no opening date available right now.
Written March 27, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lyndy C
5 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2023 • Family
Took the grandkids while on a history day in the rocks. It took a little while to find it underneath the Youth Hostel. Its a large open archaeological dig from the early days of the colony. We loved it. There were a few information plaques but would love to see more around the site.
Written February 8, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Best Sydney P
Cecil Hills, Australia129 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
At first look its just like an unfinished building sight underneath the discovery centre, when we were there, only a handful of people was looking at it, the discovery centre was closed ( probably only for organised school visits)
There are signs explaining the dig and a couple of glass cabinets with settler artifacts in it. Most of the artifacts are kept at the discovery Museum just down the road. Check them out there and on our you tube video on the Rocks- BestSydneyParks
Written January 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kirkcaldylad
North Lanarkshire, UK1,725 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019 • Couples
The Big Dig reveals through the archeological exposure of what until recently were homes and lanes of old Sydney and The Rocks something of this area’s history. They could have built over it when they were building the youth hostel that is cantilevered above part of the dig. It is free to wander around the outside of the dig which is easy to see through the fences. The original houses are “recreated” in large screens so one is given a feel for the lanes and houses.
Written November 4, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Peter
Glasgow, UK3,248 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019 • Couples
Best as a guided experience, however there is signage and inspection points.
Demonstrates tenacity in building on this rocky site.
Do visit Susannah Place museum also, across the road.
Written November 4, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

roy v
Traralgon, Australia4,860 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2019
While doing an evening Rocks tour we were taken to the digs,
It was great to see what has been uncovered from the very early days of Sydney, these were the foundations of the places built by the first settlers to come to Australia.
How they would love to see what their town has become now, we can take our hats off to them .
Take the time to visit and learn .
Written October 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lissel A
Brisbane, Australia691 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2018
This is an actual site of an archaeological dig with related displays of what has been found – is well worth a visit if you are in the area and are curious about what may lie beneath from the prior European residents of Sydney. It’s unusual to see something like this in such an urban environment, so if you're in the area add it to your schedule.
Written August 31, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Cheryl H
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia30 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2019 • Friends
To see the foundations of old houses was amazing. So glad they are preserved.great feeling of history recognised and kept in a busy city. The rocks is an amazing place.
Written March 25, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Joel S
Sydney, Australia72 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2018 • Solo
The Sydney harbour Yha is great and includes a great archaeological dig Witch is amazing great history and stories highly recommended when visiting Sydney worth the Stairs from George’ street and located in the amazing rocks area great hostel to Joel Sydney Australia stay at Sydney harbor yha when you visit Sydney Australia it’s great friendly and fun a great stay
Written September 9, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

AndyJohn74
Sans Souci, Australia3,461 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2018 • Couples
We spent a couple of nights in the International Youth Hostel, which has been built over ‘The Big Dig’. I find this sort of thing rather fascinating. There are display cases full of artefacts as well as information boards. The dig site is quite large and also includes an education centre. Well worth a look.
Written April 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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