By way of explanation, what soon became known as the Tank Stream was a small stream that ran from a swamp to the west of present day Hyde Park to Sydney Cove (now Circular Quay). This stream was the original source of fresh water for Sydney. In fact, its existence was the reason Sydney Cove became the site of Australia’s first European Settlement in 1788, as opposed to Botany Bay, the other location considered for the initial establishment of Sydney.
In reality the stream never provided much in the way of water and in the first summer it totally dried up. As such, within a year convict labour was set to digging holding tanks along the stream to retain water for the town. These tanks, there were three of them, gave the stream its otherwise rather peculiar name, the Tank Stream.
As more fully detailed in my Tank Stream and Tank Stream Museum review, by the mid 1800s the Tank Stream had been converted into a bricked in sewage and drainage system which today forms part of Sydney’s stormwater drainage system, sewage having been diverted to a separate system.
This fountain, close to the outlet of the Tank Stream, is also known as the ‘Children’s Fountain’ and is dedicated to ‘all the children who have played around the Tank Stream’.
The four part fountain, covered in a menagerie of native animals frolicking in and around the water, depicts the stream as it might have looked when Europeans first found it. Included in the plethora of animals are beautifully sculpted frogs, snakes, goannas, echidnas, crabs, birds and tortoises.
While the fountain is located on a rather dark street corner I feel this is a bonus as the abundant flora around it provides a nice link back to the thick wooded area through which the stream ran in 1788.
The bronze fountain, designed and sculpted by Stephen Walker, was donated to the City of Sydney by media magnates John Fairfax and Sons in 1981 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Sydney Morning Herald, a local newspaper still going strong.
Understandably, given its proximity to Sydney’s world famous landmarks and harbour views, few people linger or sit down for a rest by the Tank Stream Fountain but, trust me, it is worth slowing down for a look as you hurry between the more famous attractions.
Address: Herald Square, Circular Quay
Directions: Alfred St. (Btwn. George & Pitt Sts.)