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News / City Life

Secret tunnels under St James Station could become a new dining precinct

Inside the St James Station tunnels
Photograph: Mark Merton Inside the St James Station tunnels

Sydney’s love of hidden, underground bars knows no bounds – and now we hear our city has the chance to create the ultimate subterranean drinking and dining destination.

NSW Government has announced they’re opening up the disused train platforms and tunnels of St James Station to transform it into Sydney’s next attraction.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said they’re seeking Expressions of Interest from investors to activate the currently inaccessible space. He said, “This is an exciting opportunity for interested parties to stamp their mark on a location that is part of Sydney’s heritage and the heritage of our transport system.”

Heritage image from Transport NSW

Photograph: Transport NSW


The secret tunnels under St James Station were built in the 1920s as part of a planned route intended to link the Eastern Suburbs with the Northern Beaches. The project was abandoned in the ’30s due to the great depression and disused ever since.

Constance says: “Spaces like the St James tunnel are rare. Around the world, hidden spaces are being converted into unique experiences and we want St James Station to be part of that. That’s why we’re casting the net right across the world. We want the world’s best to come up with the best ideas.


Inside the tunnels at St James Station

Photograph: Transport NSW

“We want the best proposal. We want ideas that could transform the platform and tunnels into a world-renowned attraction – which could include entertainment, retail or dining options.”

So who will take up the mantle? We’d have to assume it would fall to Sydney’s drinking and dining moguls Merivale, Solotel or the Rockpool Group to fight over the space that stretches beneath Hyde Park to the Cahill Expressway entrance off Macquarie Street (assuming they’d want to). Otherwise, perhaps we’d welcome change introduced by an international investor.

Expressions of Interest are open now until November 6, 2018, and Sydney Trains with the assistance of international real estate agent CBRE will oversee and manage proposals. With all going to plan, that could mean a new place to venture for Friday night drinks come 2020.

Can't wait till then? Here are 12 underground bars in Sydney to drink in right now.