Hyde Park Obelisk, Sydney

Hyde Park Obelisk, Sydney

The Hyde Park Obelisk is a 22 meter high pillar located at the corner of Elizabeth and Bathurst Streets in Sydney. Unlike most monuments, it served a unique purpose. It was a sewage vent that eliminated noxious gases above street level to protect pedestrians below.

The Hyde Park Obelisk was constructed to look like the Cleopatra’s Needle, the obelisk on the banks of the River Thames in London. It stands on a 6.5 meter high square sandstone pedestal. It was commissioned by the then Mayor of Sydney, George Thornton as a monumental disguise for a mundane necessity. The obelisk is surrounded by weather worn sandstone sphinxes and serpents. The location was chosen because it was the point where the sewage system was at its highest and because it was a place frequented by pedestrian traffic.

The Hyde Park Obelisk was inaugurated by Mayor Thornton in 1857. The sewage fumes were expelled through a filigreed bronze pyramid at the top of the obelisk. Sydneysiders jokingly refer to the structure as Thornton’s Scent Bottle. It was at one time the smelliest obelisk in Sydney and perhaps, the world. Today, it is no longer used as a sewage vent to avoid the risk of contamination.

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Sydney, Australia within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Hyde Park Obelisk on Map

Sight Name: Hyde Park Obelisk
Sight Location: Sydney, Australia
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Sydney, Australia

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