Larrikins of Sydney

Some 200 years ago the atmosphere in the ‘thickly inhabited’ waterfront neighbourhood of The Rocks was a stark contrast to the charming precinct of today.
Beehive Hotel 1901. SLNSW The Old Rocks - NSW Public Works Dept. 433277 (002)

Image: Princes St (Larsson’s Bee Hive Hotel), 19091. The Old Rocks/N.S.W. Public Works Dept. (Source: Image 82. SLNSW: PXE 921 (v.3) – 433277

“Let us first describe the captain, bottle-shouldered, pale and thin, ​
For he was the beau-ideal of a Sydney larrikin; ​
E’en his hat was most suggestive of the city where we live, ​
With a gallows-tilt that no one, save a larrikin, can give; ​
And the coat, a little shorter than the writer would desire, ​
Showed a more or less uncertain portion of his strange attire.”​ 

Extract from The Captain of the Push, Henry Lawson, 1892 ​ 

Rival push gangs operated in other suburbs too, including nearby Millers Point, and some of the more creatively named gangs included the Straw Hat Push and the Forty Thieves.

While today the term ‘larrikin’ paints a picture of a rough-around-the-edges disregard for authority, these gangs were no joke, and violent assaults and brawls were terrifyingly common on the streets of The Rocks.

Curio Projects is proud to be working with Place Management New South Wales to conserve the significant heritage of The Rocks through archaeological, conservation and heritage management planning. The Rocks is a vibrant and fascinating precinct, and we encourage visitors to Sydney to spend time wandering the streets, taking part in tours and events, and visiting the museums and galleries.