Public Art Around The World

More Than Just The Plaque

Tank Stream Fountain

Tank Stream Fountain

Public Art : Tank Stream Fountain

Sculptor : © Stephen Walker

Date Unveiled: April 16th, 1981


Description: Where does one start describing this 5 pool fountain. It is alive with various Australian wildlife bronze figures, some creepy, some crawly and some cute, all frolicking in pools of water. Plonked straight in the middle of the busy Herald Square, the fountain attracts curious glances as the wildlife interacts amongst itself and its bronze landscape. The menagerie of animals include frogs, snakes, goannas, echidnas, crabs, birds, and tortoises.

Donated By: The Tank Steam Fountain was donated to the City by John Fairfax and Sons LTD in 1981 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Sydney Morning Herald. At the time it was the largest private gift ever received by the City of Sydney.

Location: The fountain is located at Herald Square, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia. Trust me, you can’t miss it!

History of the Tank Stream: In 1788, when the First Fleet arrived in Australia, they found Botany Bay unacceptable as a settlement. So Captain Arthur Phillip took off with a small group of men to find a more suitable location. On their journey they found a fantastic harbour that lead to a cove. Fortunately, a stream of freshwater was discovered flowing into the cove and the settlement of Sydney was built around that stream. It was also a popular watering hole for the local aboriginals. The Tank Stream originated from a swamp to the west of present-day Hyde Park and emptied into the cove near where Bridge and Pitt Streets intersect. As the settlement grew, the need for freshwater increased dramatically, placing great strain on the limited water supply. During a drought in 1790, convicts were forced to dig three holding tanks along the watercourse. The stream soon became known as the Tank Stream. In 1826 the whole Tank Stream was abandoned and a new source of water was discovered in Busby’s Bore. The Tank Stream was no more than an open sewer until 1850 when the swamp near Hyde Park was drained.

As a Matter of Fact: 

Today the Tank Steam still flows beneath the city as part of the stormwater system.

The Historical House Trust offers a tour of the stream twice a year, these special tours take visitors underground along a length of the stream hidden under the city. Because of the popularity of the tour, can you believe, there is a ballot system in place for securing a ticket? You better be quick, click here Tank Stream Tours.

Rumor Has It: It seems that a few people have been making suggestions around town that the Tank Stream should be brought back from under the city and turned into a tourist feature for the city (Hmm).

Inscriptions :

A stream flows into Sydney Cove the European settlement of Australia begins along its sandstone banks, soon drought strikes and storage tanks are carved from the stone hence the name Tank Stream
The seasons pass.


The Tank Stream fountain recalls mankind’s dependence on this flowing stream and our links with life around this region.

Sculptor: Stephen Walker

Herald Square
The Tank Stream Fountain
and the landscaping of the square were donated to the city of SYdney
for the pleasure and enjoyment of citizens and visitors by
John Fairfax & sons limited proprietors of
The Sydney Morning Herald
to commemorate the 150th anniversary
of the first publication of the Sydney
Herald on April 18, 1831
The Right Hon, The Lord Mayor of Sydney
Alderman Douglas W Sutherland A.M.
accepted the gift on behalf of the citizens on April 16th 1981.

J.O. Fairfax
John Fairfax Limited

L.P. Carter O.B.E.
Town Clerk



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

It is main inner container footer text