An illuminated fountain at night. The fountain resembles a dandelion made of water and is above a series of hexagonal pools. A pedestrian sits on the edge of the fountain.
A pigeon stands on the edge of a terraced fountain pool, where water spills through bronze teeth into a lower pool. Behind it, a dandelion-shaped fountain sprays water in all directions.
A fountain resembling a dandelion made of water sits above a series of terraced hexagonal pools. A city street with buildings and trees is in the background.

A huge dandelion of water commemorates the Battle of El Alamein in World War 2.

Artist: Bob Woodward

Artwork description

The El Alamein Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens, King Cross was designed by Robert Woodward. It opened in 1961 as a memorial to the Australian Imperial Forces 9th Division in World War 2. It commemorates the Battle of El Alamein, a key strategic town in northern Egypt, which helped turn the course of the war.

The fountain’s superb modernist design evokes a huge dandelion of water above a series of 4 terraced pools. A spherical bronze fountain head comprises 211 radially arranged ‘stalks’ with an overall diameter of 3.81m. From the periphery water extrudes from hundreds of outlets in saucer shaped films to form the sphere. The disks of water merge together creating an impression of a huge dandelion, or thistledown.

Wind gives ever-changing movement to the sphere, as the saucer shaped films of water change from convex to concave shapes, reflecting the sunlight in rainbow hues of colour. As the films of water break into spray, the sphere has a drape of mist that falls onto the top hexagonal pool. The fountain is floodlit at night and automatically switches off during windy weather to control water over the footpath.

The fountain is set among cobblestone paving near the south-western edge of Fitzroy Gardens. As the land slopes gently eastward, water flows in cascades to 3 lower pools, which reflect the hexagonal form with expanded dimensions. The series of bronze spillway drills, or grooves, direct water down from pool to pool through a fine series of ‘teeth’ which make a very precise sound, helping dull traffic noise.


Australian architect Robert (Bob) Woodward AM (1923–2010) was commissioned to build the fountain in 1959. Woodward served in the Australian Army during World War 2 working as an armourer. He then studied architecture at the University of Sydney, and worked for architects Alvar Aalto and Viljo Revell in Finland.

The fountain made such a name for Woodward that his career was consequently shifted into national and international prominence as a fountain designer.

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