Give the Gift of Adventure
people Your company needs a Team Building? Learn more

Forgotten Songs, Sydney

Last Updated: May 28, 2024 Sydney
Tripadvisor Rating 4.5/5
5 46
Google Rating 4.8/5
avatar By Sam Baldwin

Gone are the days when bird chirping was considered a natural alarm. In this urban world, we humans may have devalued the existence of birds. So, spend a day at this artwork to commemorate them and their songs.

Challis House, 4/10 Martin Pl, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia


It is a permanent piece of public art made up of 180 bird cages that play a soundtrack of bird songs. The City of Sydney sponsored it and officially put it in Angel Place in December 2011.

The sounds are inspired by the bird species residing in the city before Europeans arrived.

In the daytime, you could hear the Jacky Winter, Eastern Whipbird, Brown Gerygone, Regent Honeyeater, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Grey Shrike-thrush, Rockwarbler, Spotted Pardalote, Scarlet Robin, and a variety of other birds.

To be realistic, the music changes at night to include nighttime species such as the Barn Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Powerful Owl, White-throated Nightjar and Southern Boobook.

The Story

The design for Forgotten Songs was included in the second Laneways series, By George! Hidden Networks. The first piece of art was so popular that the city gave money to make it permanent as a beautiful, sad way to remember a part of Sydney’s life that no longer exists. The main goal was to solve two major issues: urban revitalisation in city streets and environmental issues.

The sounds that flow down from the ceiling of birdcages strung over Angel Place alter as the day turns to night, with the daytime birds’ songs departing with the sun and the nighttime birds’ songs resonating into the night.

Dr. Richard Major created a bird species calendar based on the kind of soil (and hence the sort of plants that flourished there). He also used the idea that the Tank Stream flows through the area, which could have attracted other birds to live there.

Major compiled a list of 50 species of daytime and nighttime birds by analysing the Australian Museum collection of bird skins collected from various city sections from around 1850 onward. He used realistic estimations based on similar plant types throughout the Sydney region. Fred van Gessel, a wildlife recordist, has captured the sounds of each of these creatures and donated the audio clips for this project.

worm's eye partial view of Forgotten Songs installation Source:

What is Forgotten Songs, Sydney famous for?

The artwork is well-known for its preservation of natural species on urban land. It is dedicated to the fifty different species of birds that lived in the city before it was colonised. It displays the sad tale of those creatures.

By installing the artwork, the government has recognised the natural songs of birds and given them a tribute. The lane has an aesthetic yet gloomy vibe that makes this place a good fit for tourists who like to explore the hidden gems in the city.

Did you know?

How to get there?

You can walk to this location from Wynyard in 3 minutes or from Martin Place in 5 minutes. Aside from that, the following public transportation options will get you there:

Bus:  The buses 100, 172X, 288, 292, 396, 412, and 428 will take you to this site.

Train: The SCO, T1, and T9 trains can take you to the Forgotten Songs.

Light rail: You can also go to this location by the light rail L3.

level view of Forgotten Songs cages above Angel Place Source:

Nearby parking and cost

The nearest parking to this spot is the Wilson Parking—Angel Place Car Park. It is a secure and safe parking place, with costs depending on your vehicle and parking hours. You can see the detailed list of rates here.

Nearby Attractions – Make A Day Of It!

Make your day more adventurous by visiting these places:

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is a large nature reserve in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The garden, which opened in 1816, is Australia’s oldest scientific organisation and one of the world’s most influential ancient botanic organisations.

The Cenotaph is situated between Pitt and George Streets and acts as the focal point for commemorating the fallen soldiers. It is placed in a broad, basic area intended to not detract from the meaning.

Top 5 Closest Hidden Gems – Recommended By Adventure Clues

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney 1.2 km
Paddington Reservoir Gardens 3.1 km
Elizabeth Bay House 3.4 km
Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden 4.2 km
Badu Mangroves 17.3 km

Your Hidden Gems Itinerary

  1. Start your day at Forgotten Songs.
  2. Next, head to Royal Botanic Garden Sydney:  Start your day with exploring this extensive garden, a haven of tranquility and natural beauty.
  3. Then proceed to Paddington Reservoir Gardens: Next, go to its sunken garden, a unique blend of heritage and modern landscape design.
  4. Visit Elizabeth Bay House: Visit this historic 1830s house for a glimpse into Sydney’s colonial past.
  5. Explore Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden: Relax in this peaceful, secret garden, an artistic and horticultural sanctuary.
  6. Finally, end your day at Badu Mangroves: Conclude your day with a walk through these ecologically important mangroves, close to the city center.

These destinations near Forgotten Songs in Sydney provide a mix of natural beauty, history, and serene escapes, perfect for a day of quiet exploration in the city.

Best eateries

You can have good food at the following restaurants nearby:

If you are in the mood for some cocktails and late-night munching, the Baxter Inn is popular.

This place offers Italian cuisine and has vegan-friendly and gluten-free options.

Entry price

The good thing about Forgotten Songs, Sydney, is that its entry is free for everybody.

Final Thoughts

Forgotten Songs in Sydney is a poignant reminder of nature’s lost melodies, seamlessly blending history and art in an immersive experience that challenges us to balance urban expansion with environmental preservation.

Are you ready to take a tour of Sydney’s historical nature? Let us make it even better! Book Sydney Scavenger Hunts by Adventure Clues to explore Forgotten Songs with a whole new perspective.

Forgotten Songs FAQs

Discover the intricate connection between art, nature, and urbanisation through our frequently asked questions about the Forgotten Songs installation, a unique public artwork adorning Sydney’s Angel Place, and its creator, Michael Thomas Hill.

What is Forgotten Songs?

Forgotten Songs is a public art installation created by environmental artist Michael Thomas Hill. This beautiful artwork is located in the heart of Sydney, on Angel Place. It features more than 80 bird cages hanging from the sky, creating a picturesque canopy. The installation pays tribute to the bird species that once inhabited central Sydney before the rapid urbanisation. Furthermore, the Fred Van Gessel-curated birdsong brings life to the empty birdcages during the day and switches to nocturnal birds at night.

Who is Michael Thomas Hill?

Michael Thomas Hill is a renowned environmental artist responsible for creating the Forgotten Songs installation. The artist aimed to invoke the public’s awareness of changes in Sydney’s fauna and how the city’s environment has evolved due to urban development.

What are the bird species featured in the Forgotten Songs installation?

The installation pays tribute to 50 bird species that once inhabited central Sydney. Some of these species include the Australian Owlet-nightjar, the Powerful Owl, the Southern Boobook, the Barn Owl, the Tawny Frogmouth, the White-throated Nightjar, the Regent Honeyeater, and the Eastern Whipbird.

When was Forgotten Songs installed?

The Forgotten Songs installation was first introduced in 2009 as part of the Sydney Laneway Temporary Art Scheme. Due to its popularity and the poignant message it conveyed, it became a permanent fixture in Angel Place in 2011.


City Secrets from this category

Discover The Hidden Gems in Your City

Melbourne Storm Tunnels (Maze Drain)

Melbourne Storm Tunnels (Maze Drain)

City Secrets

The Melbourne Storm Tunnels are an engineering project designed to manage stormwater and prevent urban flooding. They are crucial for the city's ...

May 14, 2024 read more
Princes Pier Refurbishment (Port Melbourne, Victoria)

Princes Pier Refurbishment (Port Melbourne, Victoria)

City Secrets

Princes Pier in Port Melbourne is recognized for its historical significance and restored wooden gatehouse. Originally a major arrival point for ...

May 14, 2024 read more
Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance

Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance

City Secrets

The Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance is a significant war memorial, honoring Victorians who have served in global conflicts. It offers visitors a ...

May 14, 2024 read more