Sandstone spectacular

No project in history has used more Sydney sandstone than Barangaroo Reserve.

The story of Barangaroo Reserve’s sandstone foreshore is one of unique design, exceptional engineering and groundbreaking landscape achievements.

Sydney is a city built on, and from, sandstone. For thousands of years, Aboriginal rock carvings have survived because of the durable qualities of the sandstone that lies up to 6km deep beneath Sydney Harbour.

Some of the city’s most beautiful landmarks, including the Queen Victoria Building and the Australian Museum - and now the award-winning Barangaroo Reserve - are constructed from Sydney sandstone.

The story of the Reserve’s sandstone foreshore is one of unique design, engineering and landscape achievements in the history of NSW. No project in history has used more Sydney sandstone than the creation of Barangaroo Reserve with more than 10,000 blocks used to create the extraordinary reimagined headland on the city’s doorstep.

Approximately 93% of the blocks came from Barangaroo itself, painstakingly extracted from beneath what is now the Cutaway, a dynamic and oversized cultural space beneath the headland. 

This unique achievement is a tale of traditional craftsmanship, industrial know-how, ground-breaking initiative, and teamwork at its finest, led by the then Barangaroo Delivery Authority and its contractor Baulderstone (now Lendlease).

Barry Murphy was Project Director when Baulderstone won the contract to design and construct Barangaroo Reserve in 2012. The biggest risk, he says, was how to extract the sandstone from under the headland.

“We didn’t know the quality of the sandstone beneath Barangaroo, how to get it out, or how to cut it into the right shape. Using extracted sandstone to build a naturalistic foreshore had never been attempted on this scale, or in full view of a city, before,” says Barry Murphy.

Troy Stratti, an expert on extracting yellow block from Sydney development sites, was brought in by the Authority as a consultant and then asked to join the project team.

Barangaroo Headland Park Sandstone Story