Weekends were created to inspire spontaneous smiles, new friendships and fun-filled adventures. Every weekend deserves a Weekend Note. Discover more by subscribing or clicking the 'Like' link at the end of the article.
Sydney's subterranean world contains a labyrinth of tunnels. Discover the tales of Sydney's underground history on an adventure in these top tunnels:
St James Station
The classical mosaic tiling in St James Station hints at the vintage of the tunnels throughout the station but the real mysteries are hidden from view. The tunnel runs north to the Cahill Expressway and south through Hyde Park.
Our ancestors dug tunnels in the 1920s for the train network but the underground space became an air raid shelter during World War II. After decades of disuse, graffiti and plantlife line the tunnel walls.
The tunnels opened to the public during Sydney Open in November 2016. Check Sydney Living Museums for the next tour dates and historic photographs.
The Tank Stream
Before Evian's mineral water arrived in plastic bottles, our ancestors drank from a creek running through the CBD.
150 years ago, the creek was expanded via a sandstone tunnel, now used for stormwater instead of drinking water.
A tour from Curtin Place is open for a lucky few via ballot. Signup for eNews updates at Sydney Living Museums.
In Manly's North Head Sanctuary during WWII, Aussie soldiers were stationed in tunnels. They worked the artillery emplacements, standing ready for a feared attack from the Japanese. The battle didn't hit Manly but the tunnels are open for public tours each weekend.
Jamie Oliver in the Mushroom Tunnel (by Li Sun Exotic Mushrooms)
As Royal Prince Alfred Hospital stretches under Missenden Road in Camperdown, doctors, nurses and patients can skip the traffic and access the wards in tunnels 2.5 metres high, passing an intricate network of electrical and gas pipework.
Bondi Water Treatment
In North Bondi's Williams Park, tee off at the golf playground or check out the Aboriginal rock carvings. 50 metres beneath you, our sewage system is treating the waste water from every flush in the Eastern Suburbs. As the end product is sent far to sea, if the water is blue and the air is fresh, be brave and take a swim at Bondi Beach.
The tunnels are accessed by Sydney Water staff via an entrance Military Road.
Mittagong Mushroom Tunnel (Bluedawe / CC BY-SA 3.0)
Mushrooms in Mittagong
In the 1860s, the railway connecting the Sydney to Goulburn cut through Mount Gibralter in Mittagong.
The railway was active until World War I, and in WWII the tunnel network was a military store. In the 1950s, mushrooms replaced munitions. This dank environment is perfect for exotic mushrooms, and it's been supplying Sydney with shiitakes, shimajiis and wood ears ever since.
hosts .farm tours – click Li Sun hosts unique underground farm tours. Visit her site to book.
In the 1800s, thirsty locals were tempted into the hotel with free rum. When they'd passed out from downing the strong booze, they were carried through a tunnel to the nearby docks, then dumped aboard ships. When they woke, the ships had already set sail. Stranded on the ocean, they were roped into the hard toil of life of a sailor for the voyage to Europe.
Sydney Harbour Tunnels
While the current Sydney Harbour Tunnel accepts cars for a hefty toll, a pair of other tunnels were carved out in the early 1900s.
The first, running from Balmain to Goat Island, plunged one kilometre underground to transfer coal from Sydney's only coal mine.
The second ran from Greenwich to Balmain. Although not as deep as the first, it was ground-breaking, becoming the first Australian tunnel to be completed solely by Aussies, without the aid of European or American engineers.It supplied electricity to our train network until the 1950s. The remnants of this tunnel can still be seen at Manns Point in Greenwich.
The Tank Stream wasn't our only colonial water source.
In the 1830s, John Busby engineered a tunnel to funnel water from the swamps at the site of Centennial Park into Sydney. It flowed over 3 kilometres along Oxford St and Hyde Park to reach Macquarie St. One of the tunnel's wells in Victoria Barracks, overflowed in the 1940s after a downpour. It can still be seen at Victoria Barracks.
A memorial at Hyde Park commemorates the achievement, which was Sydney's only water source until 1959.
To protect Sydney Harbour during 2 World Wars, tunnels at South Head, beneath Hornby Lighthouse, were carved from the sandstone.
Although the artillery and gunpowder are gone, the tunnels still remain, open to the public for Sunday tours.
The lighthouse, erected after the tragic sinking of the Dunbar, is a highlight of the tour. To book, visit the National Parks site.
What's been your favourite underground adventure in Sydney? Please let us know with a comment.