Paris has its creepy catacombs. London is contemplating turning its subterranean tunnels into a network of cycle paths. But Sydney’s underground hasn’t been so easy to visit. Not until now, that is.
If you’ve been curious about what lurks beneath, you’ll get a chance to find out when Sydney Open 2015 hits town on Sunday, November 1. Among the 50+ architectural secrets opening for exploration are the city’s Second World War tunnels, which twist and turn their way among the hidden depths of Hyde Park from St James Station. Meanwhile, at Central, you’ll be able to explore the spooky platforms 26 and 27, which were built in the 1970s, but have never seen a train. The ghostly stationmaster’s office and bathrooms are still intact.
The only catch is that these, along with St Mary’s Cathedral Belltower, Sydney Town Hall Clock Tower, Central Station Clock Tower and the Opera House’s behind-the-scenes, are of limited capacity. So they’ll be exclusively accessible to those with one of 112 Golden Tickets. And to nab one of those, you’ll need to enter a draw by booking a standard OPEN ticket (aka City Pass) by October 16.
If you can’t manage that — or you don’t happen to win — there’s no need to sulk. Sydney OPEN will be bringing you stacks more to see. For those who love their sandstone, there’ll be tours of James Barnet’s ornate Mortuary Railway Station in Chippendale, Francis Greenway’s St James Church (consecrated in 1824) and the City of Sydney Fire Station (built in 1887).
And you'll also score an inside look at a couple of recent conversions. There’s Kensington Street, where a series of workers’ cottages built in the 1840s have been turned into an arty strip, featuring galleries, markets, small bars and eateries, as well as the Old Clare Hotel, housed within the former Carlton and United Breweries admin building as well as the original Clare.
A slew of contemporary architectural feats are on the program, too. Sneak inside Harry Seidler’s creations at Australia Square, Grosvenor Place and 9 Castlereagh Street. Find out what the brutalists were on about inside the Sydney Masonic Centre’s 24-storey Civic Tower and UTS’s 33-storey Building 1. And check out Frank Gehry’s first Australian work — UTS’s Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, which features a curvy brick façade made of 320,000 custom-made bricks and a glass ‘curtain wall’.
Then there are another 40 or so places to keep you busy. Book your ticket at the Sydney Living Museums website, and hope it turns golden.