Quite a few people have suggested that I go to Putney Park saying that I would love it. Last weekend we were in the area, so decided to brave the heat & visit this place. It was well worth it.
Putney Park, owned by Ryde City Council, is on the headland at Putney & fronts the Parramatta River. There are so many wonderful things about this park. I will try to describe it as we walked it.
The car park was lined each side with tall trees & an under-storey of grasses. The car park was full giving an indication that the park would be busy. The sound of children playing greeted us, so we followed the noise & came upon a view of children on top of a structure that held a very large enclosed waterslide. This slide was around 20-metres long & took a journey down into the waterplay area. We came to this at the end of our walk, so more about this later.
Instead of going down the hill to the foreshore, we headed across the top of the headland with very large & significant trees as our guide. Essentially my path at least followed each large tree that I could see & there were many.
There were mown grass areas, but to my delight, there were many areas of long grass, shrubs & flowers. These formed naturally around sandstone outcrops, some of which were covered in lichen. It was very attractive.
Sections of natural bush were everywhere. Generally inside these bushy areas would be standing what appears to be a large veteran tree, many of them Eucalypts. I wondered whether the bushy areas around the tree were created to protect people from falling branches & still allow such important trees to be retained. If so, I commend Ryde City Council for taking such steps to keep their large trees. It certainly is a great move to support biodiversity.
The bushy areas were thick, not token areas planted with a few shrubs & native grasses. These areas looked as though they might have prior to white settlement. Many of the plants & shrubs were in flower making this a nice walk if you appreciate Australian native flora.
Visibly absent was concrete. Outside the car park & a bitumen road up the hill to the car park, I saw no concrete paths anywhere. There were all sorts of paths, some with buried steel edging, while others were more informal tracks & likely created by those that use the park. Even the bench seats scattered around the park did not have a massive base of concrete beneath them.
There were barbeque areas, but they were scattered, not lined up in a row forcing people to be with others not of their group. Interestingly, I did not notice any smoke from coal fire barbeques.
People were everywhere, but the park was laid out in such a way that they could find areas of relative seclusion. In this park you could get away from the madding crowd. There were young people lying on picnic rugs reading, families with picnic baskets full of food gathered under trees, a father who sat on a sandstone outcrop with his daughter talking & watching the water & people just wandering enjoying the landscape as we were.
We also saw the longest slippery dip I have ever seen in a public park. It was around 20-metres long & being enjoyed by a small group of children. This stood alone, away from the barbeque areas & was the only “playground” I saw, though there may be one tucked away somewhere we did not go. The park itself is a natural playground & research has shown that it is very good for children to experience nature & unstructured play.
We walked around the headland & looked down on Putney Punt, which carries cars across the Parramatta River.
Eventually the path took us down some sandstone steps that look like they were 200-years-old beside a Fig tree that looked at least 100-years-old. Ryde Council bought Putney Park in 1926. The land was originally granted to Nicholas Bayly (a participant in the Rum Rebellion) in 1799, so perhaps these steps really are old. Wouldn’t that be nice.
A group of women were sitting in the shade here, so we walked to the left & found a nice seat on a sandstone block near the water under another veteran fig tree.
From here we could look one way to the Parramatta River or look the other way across a great expanse of lawn to where many families had gathered for the day. There were more barbeques here & again, no coal fire barbeques. I did not see a pile of barbeque coal anywhere in the park either. Also absent was graffiti. Litter was minimal & bins plentiful.
The temperature was around 37 degrees, so we did not spend much time in the open areas. The trees were so abundant that everyone was able to grab some shade without being on top of the next group. The tree canopy was fabulous & so was the feeling of natural peace this park provided.
Once we crossed the open grass area on the waterfront, we followed the sound of children & came upon the large waterplay area. It was a fenced wading pool with the water reaching mid toddlers shin. Inside were many adults with children of all ages. Kids were climbing up waiting their turn to slide down the waterslide with much joyous screaming. It was like an oasis of fun.
We stayed for a bit, then walked up the bitumen road, the only hard surface in the park outside the car park, & left. It was only then that I saw that the trees & under-storey prevented visibility into the park. I left knowing that it can be done. There can be a natural park that cuts users off from the sound, sight & smells of traffic, where concrete paths are not needed & so called “untidy areas” for habitat are allowed.
If I lived close, I would go to Putney Park often. It is a jewel that has a free pool, gorgeous water views, filled with bushy areas & enormous old trees, packed with beauty, a photographers dream & above all, a safe place to go where people so obviously respect the environment. Nature & wildlife are winners too, for there is lots of life in this park. If I were to rate it, I would give Putney Park 10/10.