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23 ideas for Sydney's new underground development

Written by
Claire Finneran

A few weeks ago the NSW government announced it would be opening the disused tunnels under St James Station to development opportunities. Seemingly unhappy with the current lot of buildings on the land, this move is a bold new frontier for our city's visionary overlords. Imagine Sydney, but underground! It's wild. Well before the deadline for expressions of interest closes on November 6, we let ourselves imagine this very far below ground future. 

They're asking for ideas that could transform the platform and tunnels into a world-renowned attraction, and, listen, you can all give up now because these are those very ideas. Taking into account the tunnel's proximity to the famed subterranean lake under Hyde Park and our city's insatiable lust for paying for things to do we present you with 23 perfect ideas for our newest destination.

1. A bottomless, bottomless brunch at the bottom. Sydney loves something with the word “bottomless” in it because Sydney loves a gluttonous bargain. Sydney also loves not wearing pants and brunch, and the murky, dimly-lit lawlessness of the underground tunnels would make an ideal venue for shovelling endless food and drink into one’s top-half with an exposed lower-half. Only $970pp.

2. Sculpture by the Swamp.

3. A subterranean-themed escape room but you can’t actually escape, giving it the edge over its competitors.

4. The Everest Race numbers projected on every flat surface imaginable, even when the race isn’t running. Actually, especially when the race isn’t running. Show those cave people who’s boss while also setting the precedent for our new underworld's cultural landscape.

5. Eternal Night Noodle markets – it’s always night when you’re underground.

6. The Max Brenner franchise makes a comeback with a Wonka-esque river of molten chocolate that tourists can dip their marshmallows, mutated pond carp, and other debris into. Also bottomless.

7. The famed Titanic ride is reborn.

8. Vivid Sydney collaborates with an Apple Store. Keeping your phone charged at one of the handy 2,000 outlets while you film lights that you are making with your own phone. The genius bar staff are replaced with a series of interactive lamps.

9. Finders Keepers markets becomes literal – at the door you are given a metal detector and must fossick for your own jewellery (to the death).

10. Inverted BridgeClimb.

11. A bar but the theme is 'light rail construction site'.

12. A bar but the theme is 'spooky train station'.

13. A community moss garden but it is actually a bar.

14. The Rockpool Group open a group of rock pools for you to sit by and eat a steak.

15. Wet’n’Wild’n’Brackish: Sydney’s only underground waterpark. Thud down one of the park’s 18 heart-stoppingly dirty waterslides (watch out for chunks).

16. The Basement lives again as a music venue and is chuffed with its new, deeper, more basement-y venue. Famous musicians from Triple J in 2006 take to the smelly stage every night to an adoring crowd of dads who sit on a cold cement floor while an in-house mum does loads of washing against one wall. There are absolutely no noise complaints.

17. One of those thinly-veiled selfie background museums. Comprising of ten millennial-pink tunnels, you can take photos of yourself in a giant pit full of oversized coins (practice your Scrooge McDuck face) in front of a wind machine that blows five dollar notes at you, or on a lichen-covered log under an incessant drip.

18. A hot new 24-hour nightclub called RUST, more a technicality than a theme, RUST has a terrible amount of iron in its atmosphere. The disco ball was oxidised as soon as it was hung and the Martini glass rims are self-salting. Let loose on the dancefloor to the soundtrack of constant metallic creaking.

19. A movie set that is constantly filming The Matrix but it is actually a bar.

20. A series of safe spaces where it’s “OK to be white”. Unwind in rooms made to look like offices, galleries, airport lounges, public spaces, parliament, and much much more. Also bottomless.

21. A cellar door wine tasting but the cellar is full of trolls and the wine is awful.

22. The Melbourne experience. Paid actors will pretend to serve you coffee on fake milk crates while they smugly talk to you about their thriving night-time economy and how little they care for “the harbour”.  BYO giant ball of wool for this authentically overcast laneway experience.

23. James Packer’s new multi-level mansion, but it is actually a bar. 

Want to stay on land? Here's a list of Sydney's tourist attractions that don't suck.

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