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Paddington Reservoir Gardens

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by Carl Williams (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and photographer living in Sydney.
Published March 16th 2015
Calm and somewhat surreal, a hidden treasure can be found just a few steps down from the cafes and boutiques of Oxford Street in this chic Sydney suburb. In the heart of Paddington, the award winning Paddington Reservoir Gardens is a place of transformed industrial Victoriana that offers a subterranean oasis for the community to enjoy.

Steps down to Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Take a step down to the tranquility below


Awarded the prestigious 2009 Australian Award for Urban Design, commended under Sustainable Sydney 2030 and the recipient of numerous heritage and architectural accolades, the space blends a sunken garden with water features, walkways and historic Escher-like arches. This historic site, originally used as water storage to supply water from the swamps of Botany Bay to the suburbs, has been sensitively renovated by incorporating modern design without losing its heritage.

Wandering through the gardens, while taking in the original masonary brick vaults and antiquated structures, conjure up feelings of ancient Roman ruins. Indeed, the gardens have been described as a 'combination of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.' Alternatively you can recline in one of the deckchairs and ruminate on some of the more esoteric aspects of life.

Take a stroll around the gardens or kickback in a deckchair
Stroll around the gardens or kickback in one of the deckchairs


The site is also the venue for various events, such as the Heads On Photo Festival. Photographers – Australian and international, established and emerging – exhibit their work around the perimeter of the gardens. The space provides the perfect backdrop for exhibiting the photographs, and has brought the gardens to the attention of people who otherwise may never have known they existed. This author included.
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Where: 251-255 Oxford Street Paddington, Sydney, NSW 202.
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