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

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Last Updated: April 18, 2024 Sydney
Tripadvisor Rating 4.5/5
5 46
Google Rating 4.5/5
avatar By Sam Baldwin

Reminisce the past with the revamped Paddington Reservoir, taking cues from the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.

251-255 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021, Australia


The Paddington Reservoir Garden, once a service station and later a water reservoir, now stands as a remarkable work of landscape architecture in the suburbs of Paddington.

In 2009, the task of transforming the Paddington Reservoir into an urban park was entrusted to Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects (TZG) and JMD Designs. The transformation saw the revealing of the original framework and the possibilities of the reservoir being built on top of the existing structure.

The garden and its pond are below street level, with a raised concrete Broadwalk inserted for access. Two lightweight roofs serve as the entry points to the upper level. Contemporary elements salvage the timber, iron, and brick ruins, making this garden a blend of old and new.

The garden also received the Australian Award for Urban Design, plus the approval seal by ABC’s Art Nation and Gardening Australia.

The Story

Edward Bell and Will Wadsworth designed the Paddington Reservoir in the era in which the reservoir was built in 1866. The original brick vaults and water chambers were eventually supplemented by an eastern chamber, reflecting the 19th-century structures as a ruin and the needs of a rapidly developing city.

Through the Botany Swamps pumping station, the Paddington Reservoir sent water to the suburbs of Sydney that were higher up. The primary water source for these suburbs used to be wells and water-cart services.

Originally, the reservoir only consisted of a western chamber. But in 1877, a second eastern chamber was added to meet the soaring demands of a rapidly developing city. The extra chamber boosted the storage capacity of the reservoir.

The reservoir was decommissioned in 1899, and the site once capped off and a brand new arrangement was used as a garage, store, petrol station, and workshop. The site was then included on the New South Wales State Heritage Register and given a conservation order under the Heritage Act.

The reservoir was turned into a garden in 2009 and opened to the public after an extensive refurbishment project. It has won many awards for architecture, gardening, and design since then.

ground level view of Paddington Reservoir Gardens with some posts on the foreground, newly planted plants, and a clock tower in the distance Source:

What Is Paddington Reservoir Garden Famous For?

Visitors to the gardens are often captivated by the unique blend of history and nature found here. This compact place is packed with grandeur with elements from Roman, Babylonian, Islamic, and Japanese designs.

The Walter Read Reserve offers a serene retreat from the busy Oxford Street, just steps from the popular Paddington Markets. The best part? Entry is free, as the garden is now a public space under the care of the Sydney Council.

The garden is also a popular filming and photography site, but you really need permission beforehand.

How To Get There?

Paddington Reservoir Garden is only 5 minutes on foot from the nearest bus station, Paddington Public School; Oxford St. The Edgecliff Train Station and Moore Park Light Rail station are also within a 20-22 minutes walk.

Here are the lines and routes you take to reach there:

Nearest Parking and Cost

Here are a few of the cheapest parking spots around the area and their costs:

Paddington Reservoir Gardens at night with blue and red lighting Source:

Nearby Attractions – Make A Day Of It!

Travelling to Paddington just to see the gardens may not be the best use of time. Try visiting these places as well:

With a limited capacity, the Sydney Cricket Ground ensures that each of its visitors gets an unforgettable view of the action on the pitch.

Care for another dose of history? Visit one of the oldest houses built in Sydney, home to the Moran Arts Foundation Collection.

Top 5 Closest Hidden Gems – Recommended By Adventure Clues

Destination Distance
Forgotten Songs, Sydney 4.2 km
Eveleigh Treehouse 4.3 km
Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden 7.4 km
Milk Beach, Sydney 8.0 km
Manns Point, Sydney 12.6 km

Your Hidden Gems Itinerary

  1. Start your day at Paddington Reservoir Gardens.
  2. Head to Forgotten Songs, Sydney, an art installation with a unique atmosphere, accessible by bus or taxi.
  3. Continue to  Eveleigh Treehouse, an artistic and quirky spot, easily reached by bus or taxi from Milk Beach.
  4. Visit Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, a hidden oasis with lush greenery and art, just a short walk or taxi ride away.
  5. Take a trip to Milk Beach, Sydney’s hidden paradise by the water, accessible by bus or taxi.
  6. End your day with a visit to Manns Point, Sydney, a peaceful riverside location, with convenient bus or taxi options.

In conclusion, Sydney boasts a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered, each offering a distinctive experience. Enjoy a day of exploration, taking in the natural beauty and creativity that these unique locations have to offer.

Best Eateries Around

Paddington Reservoir Garden has many appetizing eateries within accessible distance.

The place offers rustic sitting benches and authentic regional food. A true Paddington experience!

This seafood restaurant features a full seven-course menu with several rare fish varieties.

Entry Price

There is no fee to enter this garden. The public is welcome to visit every day of the week.

Paddington Reservoir metal signage with a woman walking away Source:

Final Thoughts

The Paddington Reservoir Gardens, located in Sydney’s suburb of Paddington, represent a remarkable example of adaptive reuse, transforming a piece of 19th-century infrastructure into a public urban park.

Sydney is full of hidden gems and artistic gardens. Uncover the surprises it has to offer with Sydney Scavenger Hunts by Adventure Clues.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens FAQs

Here are some common queries about the historical Paddington Reservoir Gardens, a good urban park located in Sydney’s suburb of Paddington.

What is the Paddington Reservoir Gardens?

The Paddington Reservoir Gardens is an urban park situated in the Sydney suburb of Paddington. The park was originally a water reservoir, operated as a water reservoir which accepted water supply to parts of Sydney between 1878 and 1899. The park is now a public space that offers nice views of remnants of historic walls, the original brick structures left from its time as a reservoir.

Where is Paddington Reservoir Gardens located?

Paddington Reservoir Gardens is located on Oxford Street, in the Sydney suburb of Paddington, in the state of NSW. It is under the care of the City of Sydney.

What are the striking features of Paddington Reservoir Gardens?

The gardens are known for its sunken garden and pond, the eastern and western chamber, and grassed areas. Incorporating structures as a ruin and taking in the dramatic spaces created by remnants of historic walls, it is a place where visitors can enjoy the blend of history and nature.

What was the reservoir used for?

The reservoir was built in 1866 and served as a source of water supply to parts of Sydney between 1878 and 1899, hence its name, Paddington Reservoir Gardens.

When was the reservoir decommissioned?

The reservoir was decommissioned in 1899. The initial expectation was that the site would be capped off but later transformed into a park.


City Secrets from this category

Discover The Hidden Gems in Your City

Old City Hall Subway Station (NYC)

Old City Hall Subway Station (NYC)

New York

It's not in operation anymore, but it offers a view of the city's past. The New York Transit Museum offers tours of the station. New York, NY 10038, ...

Apr 15, 2024 read more
West Village Neighborhood (NYC)

West Village Neighborhood (NYC)

New York

It's a neighborhood with unique boutiques, cozy cafes, and historic landmarks like the Stonewall Inn. It's a nice place to explore when you're in the ...

Apr 15, 2024 read more
Battery Park (NYC)

Battery Park (NYC)

New York

It's a good spot at the southern tip of Manhattan. You can catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, or just enjoy the waterfront ...

Apr 15, 2024 read more