Just quite how the Greystanes Aqueduct managed to slip under my things to see in Sydney radar for so long is quite baffling. How can something so big go unnoticed and unheralded? Yeah sure, it's very well hidden in the back streets of Greystanes. There are no signs. It's not advertised. Anywhere. But why is its existence and whereabouts so unknown?
The Greystanes Aqueduct is of course Googable. As so often happens, searching one thing leads to something else, which leads to a miraculous find. I stumbled upon images of the Greystanes Aqueduct and I was quite frankly, gobsmacked.
I've been an aqueduct aficionado for some time. I can't help but be mightily impressed by their grandeur. More often than not, they're set in incredibly scenic and beautiful locations. And for what is a fairly standard piece of essential infrastructure; bringing water to the masses that live in our cities.
I've made pilgrimages all around the ancient Roman world to see first hand some of the most impressive aqueducts. Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Tunisia. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales is the longest and highest in the world. Built in 1805, It's obviously not Roman and today doesn't carry water for drinking but is one of the wonders of the British inland waterways system.
But little did I know that Sydney had its very own aqueduct. The Greystanes aqueduct was completed in 1888 as part of the Lower Prospect Canal. It was originally named the Boothtown Aqueduct and built to cross a small valley to convey water from Prospect Reservoir to Sydney residents.
Constructed of brick, the aqueduct measures 225 metres in length. It boasts 22 arches, each with a 9.1 metre span. Despite its grandeur, the aqueduct only had a short useful life and was by-passed in 1907 with the construction of the 'Boothtown' syphon. The aqueduct was blocked with concrete plugs to divert water into the syphon and into a large new concrete pipe. The syphon's inlets were built as castlesque towers with steel trash racks and sluice gates to control the water flow.
The aqueduct was threatened with demolition in the 1990's but thanks to objections by the local community, the aqueduct and surrounding reserve area were saved and ultimately included as part of the Western Sydney Cycle Network.
The aqueduct was converted into a cycle way in the 1990's
This striking piece of Sydney's infrastructural heritage may still be little known, even to the cyclists that ride over it, but it is a relief to know that it has been added to the Register of the National Estate. Now protected and with a new lease of life, maybe the Greystanes Aqueduct will attract the attention it deserves.
Wow ...who knew....I have seen these all over Europe...especially watching the Tour de France....but I thought they were bridges....never knew until I was watch Rick Steins Mediterranean on SBS in the last day or so...he was going over one in a canal boat...Never too old to learn something knew....Thank you for sharing.
I rode across this last night, and further down the cycle path there is a section I felt as if I was riding in a drain. The aqueduct had historic looking pillars at each end, and being in such close proximity to the reservoir I sensed there was some significance.
It was a rite of passage for any Greystanes boy in the 70s and 80s to jump from the tower into the canal. Many legends about the salt gun carrying water board guys but that is just local legend rubbish. The jump into the out pouring castle was a 'stanes thing though
Used to climb it as a kid, run through it.
There used to be a low support brace bar every 4m and a higher brace support bar every 5m so you would race each other and you would have to run jump,duck run jump,duck ... Lost count of how many people who ended up bashing there heads. The best thing was diving into the existing canal from the top of the White Castle. Man I spent many summer days in my youth hanging there. But you have to watch out for the canalies ( Water board ) they would always chase you and in the early days 1970s to late 70s carried salt guns .....Ouch, Always hoped to show my kids but unfortunately they filled it in.
But great to see it still all there.