After decades of driving past & wishing I could stop & go inside Redfern Park, today I finally did & boy, it was well worth it.
A bit of history – prior to 1885 the land that became Redfern Park was deemed “a dangerous ‘pestiferous bog’ known as Boxley’s Lagoon.” In 1885 Redfern Council (now the City of Sydney Council) gazetted the 12-acres to form Redfern Park. It was designed as a “Victorian pleasure ground” & thankfully, retains much of this feel today.
In 2014 Redfern Park was awarded the ‘Green Flag Award’ for recreation & relaxation & recognised as one of the top parks in the world. I was not surprised when I read this, feeling that my absolute pleasure at this park was justified. More of the park’s interesting history can be found here – http://bit.ly/1fcFLvk
The park is surrounded by truly magnificent Fig trees. Many have incredible aerial roots that hang down to within a 1.2 metres from the ground, while others have a canopy spread of around 20-metres.
There are also Cabbage & Canary Island palms at the impressive sandstone entrance gates & also in lines throughout the park. There is a massive & perfectly shaped London Plane tree showing how regal this species can look when it doesn’t need to be pruned for powerlines. There is also a gorgeous River Red Gum that makes me think of Central Australia. With today’s blue skies it was easy to imagine this. Much to my delight there is also a Bottle tree.
This list of the registered significant trees in Redfern Park came from the City of Sydney website – see http://bit.ly/1mrY8I9 I must say it is wonderful to be able to find out details of the trees planted, their history & significance.
There are a whopping 86 protected significant trees in Redfern Park making it a jewel less than 2-kms from Sydney CBD.
- 21 Deciduous Fig trees (Ficus superba var. henneana)
- 4 Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla)
- 8 Port Jackson Figs (Ficus rubiginosa)
- 3 Norfolk Island Pines (Araucaria heterophylla)
- 1 Queensland Lacebark (Brachychiton discolour)
- 1 London Plane (Platanus x acerifolia)
- 1 River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
- 1 Maiden’s Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
- 31 Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis)
- Indian Bean (Catalpa speciosa)
- 10 Washington Palms (Washingtonia robusta)
- 2 Date Palms (Phoenix dactylifera)
- 2 Jelly Palms (Butia capitata)
Part of the park includes Redfern Oval – home of the South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League Club. There is succession planting of both Fig trees & Canary Island Palms surrounding this oval. The roof of the stands of the oval is covered in solar panels – another good thing to see.
The oval has multiple large gates that when closed form a fence. However, they were open to allow the public access to the oval. People were all through this park & oval & it was obvious that is a popular place to spend some time. There were dogs both on leads & leash-free. People were picnicking in the centre of the oval while others walked or ran. To me it was great to see this area opened for use of the public.
There was one barbeque facility & people were cooking while we were there.
Inside the park is a gorgeous ornate fountain that was installed in 1889 & refurbished in 1991. The fountain area is a delightful & peaceful place to sit & watch the water & passersby. The fountain also provides an important water source for the many birds that call this park & local area home. Water in a public park was very pleasing to see. I wish other parks also provided fresh water for birds.
There is also a well-maintained & attractive war memorial that was erected in 1919 to commemorate 137 local men who lost their lives in the First World War 1914-1919.
The children’s playground was simple, but lovely. Rather than all the entertainment coming from the playground, children were running around the park & exploring.
A marvelous feature in this park is a water sculpture called “Lotus Line’ designed by Aboriginal artist & academic Fiona Foley. Multiple lotuses stand tall & around these shoots spouts of water. It is a waterplay park with a difference & still spouting water in winter. Kids were playing ‘karate chop’ with the waterspouts & able to do this without getting wet. I imagine it is a different scene on hot summer’s days.
Ms Foley also designed large seedpods & other sculptures for the children’s playground. Kids can enter or climb these art works. They were very beautiful to my eye & rather than detract from the surrounding landscape, added another almost secret dimension. Her artwork in Redfern Park is very nature-orientated, which I think is a good thing as it engages children’s consciousness & hopefully makes them more respectful of the environment.
One other thing that I found impressive & smart on Sydney City Council’s behalf was that all the garden beds were planted with the one plant. I think it is called Philodendron ‘xanadu,’ though I may be wrong. The wide garden beds around the periphery of the park & under the trees were thick with this lush plant & they served to block out much of the sight of the busy passing traffic.
Mono-planting if done well, as it is in this case, can look terrific. There were no empty garden beds or areas that looked dead or only covered with mulch. The garden beds also served to provide a safe habitat for any ground dwelling wildlife. Also, most trees in the park were surrounded by a generous ring of mulch, so no chance of injury from a whipper-snipper or lawn mower & also very good for the continuing health of the tree.
What I found astounding was the lack of litter in this park. There were no cigarette butts, drink cans, bottle tops & other litter, even under the trees & in the gardens. I saw one bottle & a couple of tissues in our two-hour stay & the park was full of people. A colony of Australian White Ibis lives in the park & not a sigle one of them has leg injuries from discarded string or the like.
What makes one section of the community treat their park well, while another a short drive away thinks nothing of leaving everything they don’t want behind? I don’t think I will ever understand this.
There was no graffiti, but there was chalk drawings on the pavement done by children. One of the messages said, “Don’t worry about a thing. Be happy.”
There was no evidence of any kind of vandalism either. All the newly planted trees were left untouched. No tree trunk was spray-painted. Neither were the historic sandstone entrance gates, bench seats, bins or other structures. The fountain looked new, not 126-years-old. Respect for the environment is obvious in this park.
Redfern Park is special. I highly recommend a walk on a sunny day to take in the delightful sights of so many magnificent trees & the other wonderful aspects of this marvelous park. Don’t wait decades like I did before you take a step back into history when parks were elegant places for promenading & people watching. Casual clothing is accepted these days, but probably not in the 1880s. I would give Redfern Park ten stars for beauty, ambience, amenity, art, sport, community & peace.