The Tank Stream Tours: May 2019 ballot

The ballot has now closed. With over 5,000 entries, we thank everyone who entered. Winners will be notified by email between Monday 29 April and Friday 10 May.
We know it today as The Tank Stream – an underground curiosity – but it was a vital source of life for the First Fleeters, and before them, the First Australians.

Captain Arthur Phillip chose Circular Quay as the birthplace of the new colony, in part because of this freshwater stream running right into the harbour from a swamp at the western end of Hyde Park. Having supplied fresh water and fish to the original Gadigal People for tens of thousands of years, it would serve as the main fresh water supply for the first 40 years of Sydney’s European life.

But by the early 1800s its waters were so polluted that the colonists had stopped drinking from them, and in time it became a sewer, still emptying into the harbour. As the burgeoning city grew up around the stream, it was covered over with sandstone blocks. Today the Tank Stream lies underground, a stormwater channel managed by Sydney Water. 

This tour, available only twice a year, takes you through 60 metres of this state heritage-listed tunnel built by convicts and stonemasons. Admission on the tour is by ballot registration only. Winners of the ballot have the opportunity to purchase up to two tickets for their tour.

Single ticket price $40 | Maximum two tickets per winning entry.

This Tank Stream ballot closed at midnight Thursday 18 April 2019.

In partnership with Sydney Water.

The Tank Stream tours will be led by one of the following specialist guides:

Yvonne Kaiser-Glass is Sydney Water's archaeologist. She provides strategic advice and assistance on a wide range of Sydney Water projects that involve excavation in areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage sensitivity (known or potential) and/or non-Aboriginal archaeological potential.

Phil Bennett is the Lead Heritage Advisor, responsible for managing over 200 heritage listed assets at Sydney Water, including the Tank Stream. With a back ground in architecture, cultural heritage management and archive management, Phil is a skilled interpreter of the evidence we can see in the Tank Stream today.

Robert Allen is a Service Delivery Officer responsible for condition assessment and capital works on Sydney Water’s Stormwater Assets. He has a great interest in Sydney’s history and how the city landscape has grown around the environment and our use of water resources.

Louise Roberts is the Education and Community Partnerships Officer responsible for tour program and educational resource development. With a background in History and Geography teaching Louise has managed the development of the improved tours and resources for the Tank Stream.

For further information on the history of The Tank Stream, visit Sydney Water.


The Tank Stream is part of an active stormwater drain, which means we must take some special safety precautions. Sydney Water will look after your safety by monitoring weather, air quality and water flow in the tunnel. The following terms and conditions apply to the tours of The Tank Stream:

  • The Tank Stream is a confined space. It is not suitable for those with serious health issues, limited mobility or uncomfortable in confined spaces. You must be able to climb a ladder and spend extended periods squatting or stooping.

  • Before entering The Tank Stream you must attend a safety induction and confirm you are fit and capable of participating in the tour and you release Sydney Water from its liability for any loss or injury you might suffer and you accept liability for any damage or injury you may cause while on the tours.

  • You must be over the age of 14 to enter The Tank Stream and under supervision of a responsible adult if under the age of 18.

  • Tours may be cancelled on the day of the event or 24 hours prior if rain occurs or is forecast or toxic gas levels become dangerous. Sydney Water will notify you if this is the case.

  • Long pants and long sleeves must be worn. Participants are required to being their own socks. Sydney Water will provide other protective equipment that must be worn on the tour. 

  • Cameras are permitted on the tour. However, no responsibility will be taken for the damage of personal items on the tour. The tunnel can be damp and wet.

  • Maximum two people per ballot.

  • Successful applicants will be notified by email.

  • Meeting point to be advised at time of booking.


Tours may be cancelled on the day of the event or 24 hours prior if rain occurs or is forecast or toxic gas levels become dangerous. If this occurs participants will be contacted by Sydney Living Museums (SLM) via email or telephone. The event page on the SLM website will also be updated prior to the event day if cancellations occur.

Tour dates - Wednesday 15 & Thursday 16 May 2019

Sydney CBD



Sydney Water Logo


Become a member

Become a member to receive an extra chance to win on every tour, exclusive presale and discounts to our upcoming Architecture and Design programming and more!

Join now