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Sydney’s abandoned secret gem

Looking like something, you might see in Medieval Europe, but the Greystanes Aqueduct is instead one of Western Sydney’s best kept secrets. The stunning aqueduct was completed in 1888 and can be found just minutes from Parramatta and less than 45 minutes from Sydney’s CBD.

The Aqueduct was originally constructed to bring water over a gully to Sydney’s growing population but now attracts the attention of photographers as a fascinating remnant of the city’s history. The National Trust believe it is probably the only one that we have of this type in NSW.

The aqueduct took ten years to build, an amazing amount of work and beautiful surveying. Most of the lower canal they could run at ground level, but there was a big gully in Boothtown (now Greystanes) where they had to build this aqueduct to get the water through. The impressive aqueduct allowed the canal to flow across a 225-metre-wide valley with 22 brick arches, each with a span of nine metres.

The grand brick structure of this one-of-a-kind aqueduct is 225 metres long, contains 22 arches, and is arguably the most impressive aspect of the lower Prospect canal, a key part of the Nepean Water Scheme’s ability to bring water to Sydneysiders.

Amazingly, the aqueduct enjoyed a working life of just 19 years, being bypassed in 1907 with the construction of the Boothtown siphon.

One of Sydney’s most photogenic sites, it then lay dormant behind fences for almost a hundred years, until it was repurposed as part of the Western Sydney Cycle Network in 2003. But even after thirteen years as a cycleway, Sydney’s little taste of Europe has managed to slip under the Sydney tourism radar.

The aqueduct was threatened with demolition in the early 1990s, but thanks to widespread local opposition, the aqueduct and surrounding reserve area were saved, leading to its repurposing.

It’s now safe from redevelopment, and in the age of Instagram is likely only to grow in popularity as this impressive structure is discovered by Sydney.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Greg Davis

a large stone building with grass in front of a brick wall