The Hornsby Water Clock

This is the Hornsby Water Clock located in the centre of Florence Street pedestrian mall in Hornsby. Thanks to my good friends and ex-Hornsby locals @whothedickens for giving me their grand tour.

Titled “Man, Time and the Environment” the clock weighs approximately 20 tonnes and stands 8 meters tall. The sculpture was unveiled in 1993 and cost over $1m to build. The bronze, stainless steel and glass construction took 2.5 years to build.

It has three water powered clocks including a 4th century BC Greek clepsydra, an 11th century Chinese water wheel clock and a 17th century Swiss pendulum clock. It also has a 17-note bronze carillon which rings automatically on the hour. Though this can also be played manually. Mrs Dickens recalled her memory of a gentleman donning gumboots before striding through the water to the middle of the fountain to delight a crowd with a tune. The fountain sits on a floating pontoon that rotates as a standard analogue clock pointing to Roman numerals on the perimeter of the fountain.

According to a plaque nearby, the sculpture is intended as “a unique environmental statement, particular relevant to Hornsby, an area retaining extensive unspoilt natural areas with abundant land and marine based flora and fauna” as it represents native animals such as the tawny frogmout, little penguin and other lizards, birds and possums.

An interesting youtube clip (see sources) shows the mixed reaction to the clock at the time of its installation. Some people labelled it a monstrosity, others admired it, others were just confused. The clip also describes how for much of its early years the clock was not working. Chicken bones were to blame as they were discarded into the fountain they would interfere with the fountains filtration system.

It’s understandable how something so unique would have caused a stir when it was first unveiled, especially given its large cost and prominent position at the centre of Hornsby’s main mall. Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.


Hornsby Water Clock

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