Sydney’s Hyde Park is located in the city’s central business district. It is bordered by St. James Road, College Street, Liverpool Street and Elizabeth Street, and the park is easily accessible by foot, car, bus or railway. Both the Museum and the St. James railway stations are located near Hyde Park, and the Sydney Explorer makes a stop there, too. Bike parking is available for cyclists. The park is fully accessible and features a cafe for refreshments.
Named after London’s famed Hyde Park, Sydney’s version has become famous in its own right. It is lined with fig trees, palms and lush greenery and offers an oasis in the middle of the city. It is the oldest public park in the country and has long been a favourite spot for Sydneysiders. Over time, the park has hosted cricket, rugby, boxing and other sports, and it has been used by the military for various drills. Horse races, which began to be hosted there in 1806, drew enormous crowds, and Governor Macquarie was a regular spectator. These meetings were eventually moved to another course after the Sydney Turf Club was formed, and by 1856, most sporting events had ceased. Hyde Park was transformed into public gardens. Since that time, the gardens have grown and flourished, and they have become one of Sydney’s most popular sites.
Today, Hyde Park is a refuge from the excitement and busyness of the surrounding city. Archibald Fountain, which was designed by French sculptor Francois-Leon Sicard, is at its heart and bears the name of J.F. Archibald, who donated it in honor of the Australian effort in World War I. Near the St. James railway station is one of the park’s more popular attractions: a life-sized outdoor chess set that beckons visitors to play or watch others play. The northern end of the park also features several themed gardens, water features, monuments and works of art.
Along the northeast corner of the park is the Hyde Park Barracks. Considered one of the most important convict sites in the world by the World Heritage, Hyde Park Barracks played a vital role in convict transportation to Australia. It was originally built to house convicts, and more than 50,000 men and boys spent time here. When it was no longer needed by convicts, it was converted to a hostel and later an asylum for destitute women. Today the barracks have been transformed into a museum that tells the stories of those who passed through its gates and ultimately built Sydney.
At the southern end of the park is the entrance to the Museum railway station. A fig-lined avenue leads from Macquarie Street to the ANZAC Memorial and the Lake of Reflection. The ANZAC Memorial features carved granite relief panels depicting Australian military personnel over each door, a photograph exhibition, decorative bronze friezes and stone figures.
Things to Do
Admission to the park is free, but there is a small fee to enter Hyde Park Barracks. Visitors to Hyde Park can enjoy a walk through its stately tree-line pedestrian avenues, indulge in a picnic on its manicured lawns or engage in a moment of quiet reflection at one of the memorials. However while many people take advantage of its peaceful atmosphere, Hyde Park also hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year, including Australia Day, ANZAC Day, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander celebration, the Food and Wine Fair and the Sydney Festival, which offers free entertainment and activities.
Not far from Hyde Park are two of the city’s stateliest churches. Convict architect James Greenway designed St. James, which is listed on the Register of the National Estate, while St. Mary’s Cathedral, a landmark distinguished by its lovely English Neo-Gothic architecture, offers free tours after mass on Sunday.
Hyde Park extends across 40 acres and offers lush grass, shady trees and plenty of open spaces to soak up the sun or relax with your companions. You can immerse yourself in history through the numerous memorials, statues, monuments and installations.