The oldest public parkland in Australia, Hyde Park can be found in Sydney’s central business district, and stretches out for just over 40 acres. Whether you are seeking some history and culture, or simply want a breath of fresh air away from the bustle of the city, here are some of the highlights of Sydney’s Hyde Park and its surrounding area.
Archibald Fountain and War Memorials
The Archibald Fountain is most definitely the centerpiece of Hyde Park, with wide fig tree-lined pathways leading up to it, which in itself is quite the spectacle. The fountain commemorates the collaboration between Australia and France during World War I, with the Greek mythology creatures surrounding the fountain emphasizing this. The park is also home to a few war memorials, such as the Anzac War Memorial, which is Art Deco in style, and features a photographic exhibition on World War I, as a tribute to the Anzac soldiers who died at this time. On the western side of the park is the 22-meter tall Obelisk, which was erected in 1857 and is decorated with delicate Egyptian features. Another interesting monument can be found at the south of the park, and is titled Yinimadyemi – Thou Didst Let Fall. This public artwork piece is an acknowledgment to the services provided by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in the Australian Defence Force.
A Game of Chess
Located at the St. James Station side of the park, the giant chess set has always been popular, and is a throwback to the park’s original sporting days. This life-sized board, along with its life-sized pieces, are perfect for a quick and social game of chess, whether you bring your own partner along, or challenge one of the other players already there.
The Australian Museum
Just off of the east side of Hyde Park, the Australian Museum is the oldest museum in the country, and has quite the international reputation when it comes to anthropology and natural history. The museum’s permanent collection is vast, with some of the exhibit highlights including Indigenous Australia, More Than Dinosaurs, Mineral Collections and Insects. There are also always rotating temporary exhibitions held here, meaning that there will always be something new to see each time you visit.
The Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Originally designed by a convict architect in 1818, the Hyde Park Barracks Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that teaches the public about Australia’s convict past. Many of the exhibitions here are interactive, and there are several designed specially for children, such as the Unlocking Heritage program, which allows them to wear convict clothing and sleep in the hammocks in the barrack, to help them really experience what life was like at this time.
At one point in time, the land on which Hyde Park sits was a racecourse and sporting ground, filled with action and noise throughout the year. While its sporting days may be long over, the park still holds a place in the heart of locals, providing a green oasis in the heart of the city.