Centennial Park, New South Wales

Centennial Park
Sydney, New South Wales

Centennial Park
Coordinates 33°54′04″S 151°13′49″E / 33.90108°S 151.23036°E / -33.90108; 151.23036Coordinates: 33°54′04″S 151°13′49″E / 33.90108°S 151.23036°E / -33.90108; 151.23036
Population 2,106 (2011 census)[1]
 • Density 957/km2 (2,480/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 2021
Area 2.2 km2 (0.8 sq mi)
Location 4 km (2 mi) south-east of Sydney CBD
LGA(s) City of Sydney, City of Randwick
State electorate(s) Heffron
Federal Division(s) Wentworth
Suburbs around Centennial Park:
Paddington Woollahra Bondi Junction
Moore Park Centennial Park Queens Park
Kensington Randwick Randwick

Centennial Park is a large public, urban park that occupies 189[2] hectares in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in the state of New South Wales, Australia.[3] Centennial Park is located 4 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district, in the City of Randwick.[4] The Park forms part of the larger Centennial Parklands.

Centennial Park is also a small residential suburb, on the western fringe of the parkland, which is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney.


Centennial Park is constructed on lands that were traditionally in the custody of the Gadigal clan.[5]

Centennial Park was set aside by Governor Macquarie in 1811 and was developed as water reserve and common grazing land.[6]

The government began plans for a celebratory park in 1887 and passed an Act of Parliament in the following year. Some of the grandiose plans for the area, such as a museum and a national convention building, never eventuated. Centennial Park was dedicated by Governor Lord Carrington, on Australia Day on January 26, 1888[6] to celebrate the first 100 years of European settlement in Australia and described by him as 'emphatically the people's park'. The Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun dedicated the park 'to the people of New South Wales forever'.[7]

The land was originally set aside by Governor Lachlan Macquarie for grazing and watering stock. The ponds to the south, known as Lachlan Swamps, were named in his honour and were the chief water supply for Sydney from 1830 to 1880. Water was carried to Hyde Park along a tunnel called Busby's Bore, after its designer John Busby (1765–1857). The tunnel served the needs of Sydney until the Nepean scheme made it redundant in the 1880s.

In 1851, it was a scene of a duel between the first Premier of New South Wales, Stuart Donaldson, and the Surveyor-General, Thomas Mitchell. Both men survived to fulfil their duties.[8]

In more recent times, the park has had its share of bad news and publicity. On 7 February 1986, Sallie-Anne Huckstepp was found drowned in the Busby Pond. It was thought that she had been murdered by a well-known Sydney criminal, Neddy Smith, but he was not convicted. The Sydney Morning Herald described her as a "32-year-old gangster's moll, heroin addict and prostitute who mingled with Sydney's most notorious criminals and blew the whistle on crooked cops."[9]


Climate data for Centennial Park Round House
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 26.1
Average low °C (°F) 17.4
Source: [10]

The park

Centennial Park is the largest of the three parks that make up Centennial Parklands. The Park is 2.2 square kilometres in area, originally swampland, known as Lachlan Swamps and is located adjacent to another two large public spaces, Moore Park and Queens Park. The Parklands are administered by The Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, a NSW Government[5] agency whose responsibilities cover low-lying wetlands, ornamental lakes, pine and native forests, expanses of grass, to playing fields, a golf course, tennis and netball courts and the Entertainment Quarter at nearby Moore Park. Centennial Park is one of Australia's most famous parks and is listed on the Register of the National Estate.[11]

Federation Pavilion

Federation Pavilion

The Federation Pavilion, which encloses the Commonwealth Stone (1901), is significant as the site of the official ceremony to mark the Federation of Australia and the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901.[12]

The Federation Pavilion, designed by Alexander Tzannes, was erected around the 'Commonwealth Stone' as a permanent monument to Federation, in the Bicentennial Year of European Settlement in 1988. An inscription around the pavilion is from a poem by Bernard O'Dowd, and reads: "Mammon or millennial Eden". The building was renovated and plaques were added to celebrate the Centenary of the Federation of Australia on 1 January 2001.

The Commonwealth Stone is made of sandstone, and it is almost the only remnant of the original pavilion used by Lord Hopetoun. Most of the structure rotted, being made of plaster of Paris; the base survived and is now located in Cabarita Park.[13]

Grand Drive

Ranger's cottage designed by Walter Liberty Vernon

Grand Drive is the circular main road through the park. It runs for 3.8 km and was part of the marathons course used in the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. The drive is separated into five concentric circles, with the outer track used for cycling or rollerblading, fourth largest for car driving, third for car parking and many trees, the second is a paved pathway for walking, also used for running, the smallest being a dirt track for horseriding.

In March 2012, Centennial Parklands management issued a proposal for traffic calming measures at one of four identified blackspots on Grand Drive.[14] The proposal caused the ire of cyclist groups who staged a mass protest, claiming that the proposed measures would make the park more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.[15] Public submissions into the proposal were invited and Centennial Parklands management, together with community consultative representatives, are currently reviewing.

McKay Oval

Located in the most western area of the park, it is used as the home ground of Sydney Boys High School for Rugby Union, Soccer and Cricket matches, in the Great Public Schools Competition. The main oval is currently surrounded by small white fence, which is also the boundary for cricket games, though spectators for the winter sports are allowed inside this boundary and are allowed to sit very close to the field, around 5 metres.

Built adjacent is the Fairland Pavilion, the hosting area for various lunches and afternoon teas, also the location of the canteen, changerooms, scoreboard, first aid, and storerooms for the bulk of the sporting equipment.


Flying fox in Lachlan Swamp

Centennial Park has a wide variety of wildlife that makes its home in the park or uses it frequently. The range includes pelicans, black swans, mallard ducks, White ducks, purple swamphens, Common moorhens, coots, Toulouse geese, Emden geese, turtles and eels, plus European carp that were introduced into the park's ponds and are now regarded as a pest. There is also a colony of flying foxes in the Lachlan Swamp (including the grey-headed flying fox).

The suburb

The suburb of Centennial Park sits on the western fringe of the parkland and features quality houses on large blocks as well as large multi-unit buildings developed in the 1960s to 1980s on Cook Road. The suburb developed as a result of a decision to sell off land adjacent to the park to raise money for the park development. One hundred and one acres of land were subdivided in 1904. To ensure high standards of residential development, certain requirements were imposed. No wooden buildings or terrace homes were allowed; brick or stone were mandated, with tile or slate roofs. Between 1905 and 1925, a wide range of substantial, quality homes were built, featuring a mixture of Federation, Arts and Crafts, Victorian and Old English styles. Homes are centred mainly on Martin Road, Robertson Road, Lang Road and Cook Road.[16]

Notable houses


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Centennial Park (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  2. http://www.centennialparklands.com.au/places_to_visit/centennial_park
  3. "Centennial Park, Sydney". Great Public Spaces. Project for Public Spaces. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  4. Gregory's Sydney Street Directory, Gregory's Publishing Company, 2007
  5. 1 2 "About us". Centennial Parklands. Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust. 4 December 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2011.
  6. 1 2 Mortimer, M.J. (1999). Australian Parks and Recreation. p. 25.
  7. Pollon, Frances (1990). The Book of Sydney Suburbs. Angus and Robertson. p. 57. ISBN 0-207-14495-8.
  8. Draper, Sandra. "Donaldson, Sir Stuart Alexander (1812 - 1867)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 15 February 2007.
  9. Hornery, Andrew (12 July 2008). "Huckstepp to shine on screen". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  10. "Summary statistics Centennial Park Round House". Bureau of Meteorology. 14 July 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  11. Bilney, Elizabeth; Chisholm, Anne (1981). The Heritage of Australia : the illustrated register of the National Estate. ((Repr.) ed.). South Melbourne: Macmillan of Australia in association with the Australian Heritage Commission. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-333-33750-9.
  12. Federation Monument, Centennial Park, NSW Profile
  13. Huxley, John (14 February 1998). "Sunrise in the big backyard". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. p. 9.
  14. "Grand Drive Safety Improvement Project". Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  15. Gardiner, Stephanie (29 March 2012). "Cyclists ride for right to no bumps in Centennial Park". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  16. Centennial Park Walk. Department of Environment and Planning, New South Wales. 1987. p. 14. ISBN 0-7305-1936-8.
  17. State Heritage Register
  18. "Crossways, The". Heritage Listings. NSW Heritage. 3 March 2000. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  19. State Heritage Register
  20. State Heritage Register
  21. State Heritage Register
  22. State Heritage Register
  23. The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, p.2/66
  24. State Heritage Register

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