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Unveiling the new Darling Harbour: a sound shell, upsized playground and expanded Chinese Garden

08 May 2024

The NSW Government is inviting Sydneysiders to rediscover Darling Harbour with the opening of three new public spaces.

A state-of-the-art playground, a sound shell in Tumbalong Park and a bamboo forest walk in the Chinese Garden of Friendship are being opened to the public as new enticing places that will draw more crowds to this harbourside precinct.

The new 2000 square-metre playground doubles the size of the existing Darling Harbour playground and is designed to cater to older children and teenagers. The playground, a $10 million investment from Tianlong as part of the Ribbon development, is made up of two areas: the Bay, with a series of decks, ramps and bridges and the Wave, with higher level ramps, climbing tower and slide plus plenty of seating for parents and carers.

The new sound shell at Tumbalong Park, a $10 million investment from Placemaking NSW, will become Sydney’s newest home for live concerts, a site for sporting events and community festivals.

The sound shell design has a unique cantilevered roof resembling a cockle shell that is a symbolic link to the history of the area. Tumbalong also means ‘the place where shellfish is found’ in Gadigal. The state-of-the-art structure includes two new 9 x 5 metre digital screens, permanent speakers, acoustic panelling and a motorised truss capable of hosting a variety of events.

The Friendship Bridge and bamboo forest walk at the Chinese Garden of Friendship is part of a $1 million expansion that connects the existing Garden with a repurposed area including 20 per cent more accessible open public space.

The space called the ‘Meandering Pathway of Tranquillity’ crosses the Lotus Pavilion and the Seven Sages Walk and finishes near the base of the waterfall, with a calming design that represents the first major upgrade to the Garden since it opened in 1988.

These reinvigorated spaces will improve the experience for more than 28,000 residents in the CBD and 13,000 on Pyrmont, as well as creating significantly improved experiences for locals and visitors to the Darling Harbour precinct.

As the redevelopment of Darling Harbour continues, more green and public spaces will continue to be delivered, reinventing the precinct for future generations.

The NSW Government is also developing a Darling Harbour 2050 Vision, a planning framework to shape it into a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable waterfront precinct. A draft is expected to be exhibited for feedback in coming months and will reflect the views of the community.

To find out more about the revitalisation of Darling Harbour.

For information on booking the Tumbalong Sound Shell.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said:

“With around 27 million visitors a year it’s important that the NSW Government continues to revitalise Darling Harbour as a modern, accessible and enjoyable precinct with plenty of open space for recreation and play.

“The new playground catering to older children and teenagers has been delivered as part of the Ribbon redevelopment and is designed to complement the existing playground which was focused on small children.

“The sound shell at Tumbalong Park is Sydney’s first major purpose-built, live outdoor cultural venue in the heart of the city. It is destined to become an iconic landmark rivalling sites such as the Sidney Myer Music Bowl or Federation Square in Melbourne or the HOTA Outdoor Area at the Gold Coast.

“The Chinese Garden of Friendship is an important heritage-listed cultural space which provides visitors with a tranquil garden oasis nestled in the heart of Darling Harbour. Thirty-six years after the Garden opened it is continuing to grow and expand with recent works giving the Garden a new lease of life.

“Darling Harbour is the third most visited destination in NSW and so many of us have celebrated big moments there. The Darling Harbour 2050 Vision will also guide future decision-making and secure this harbourside precinct as a world-famous destination for generations to come.”