Red-eared Slider Turtle alert

24 Oct

This is the time of year that many park visitors will see turtles on the move, looking for nesting locations to lay their eggs. While a nice park story, a little while ago a sighting in Centennial Parklands put us on alert – news of a potential Red-eared Slider Turtle being spotted.

While we work hard to protect our wildlife and improve our aquatic ecosystems, the battle continues against a number of pest species, and the potential sighting of a Red-eared Slider Turtle is not good news if confirmed.

What is a Red-eared Slider Turtle?

Red eared Slider Turtle Red eared Slider Turtle alert

Red-eared Slider Turtle (photo from

The Red-eared Slider Turtle is a native of the Mississippi region of the USA. They get their name from the small red dash around their ears. The “slider” part of their name comes from their ability to slide off rocks and logs and into the water quickly.

And what is the problem?

It is aggressive and has the potential to destroy our native turtle populations.

Originally imported as aquarium pets many have been released once they out grew their tanks. They are now an illegal import into Australia and many other countries around the world.

They are listed in the top 100 Feral Animals of the World and are a Declared Pest Species across Australia.

Learn more

Here is a Fact Sheet on Red-eared Slider Turtles.

How can you help?

Keep an eye out for this pest species. Spotting turtles in the Parklands is a fun activity for many, but if you suspect that you see a Red-eared Slider Turtle, you can do a great service to our native turtles and aquatic ecosystem by reporting the sighting to our Rangers.

Ring 0412 718 611 immediately, or head to the Visitor Information Counter.

Thanks for helping keep our ponds and our native animals healthy and clean.

Lily Pond Centennial Park Red eared Slider Turtle alert

One of our most popular ponds: Lily Pond, Centennial Park


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Posted by Centennial Parklands in Backstory, Birds and animals, Blog
on 24 Oct 2014

Turtles in Centennial Parklands!

23 Oct

Turtle strip Turtles in Centennial Parklands!

The term ‘hibernation’ usually conjures images of grizzly bears in freezing arctic climates seeking shelter from icy temperatures. During the colder months one group of our own Parklands ‘residents’ actually goes into hibernation too!

Freshwater turtles are abundant in the Parklands’ ponds system, but are often hard to spot in the water. Most times you’ll only see a small head popping out above the water surface.

So what’s this about hibernation?

Turtles are cold-blooded creatures and cannot control their own body temperature. As a result, they have developed the ability to go into a state of inactivity to cope with lower temperatures.

During this dormant period, turtles rest on the bottom of the pond or beneath a fallen log, sometimes huddling together in groups. Their pulse rate and breathing slows down and their appetites decrease. Instead of feeding, they use the fat reserves in their body stored during summer, to provide just enough energy to keep their body functioning.

And when the warm weather returns in spring?

When warmer conditions return, turtles become more active again and search our ponds for aquatic insects and small fish to replenish their food stores in preparation for the busy mating season ahead. The freshwater turtle’s diet varies and includes insects, algae and weeds.

Where are turtles regularly seen?

Willow Pond Turtles in Centennial Parklands!

The ponds of Centennial Park

The Sydney basin turtle (Emydura macquarii), and the snake-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis) are the most commonly seen of the five native species recorded in Centennial Parklands. They can sometimes be seen basking on tree branches, drain covers and the banks of the ponds.

Turtles have been spotted in Randwick, Lily, Busby’s and Kensington ponds where the vegetation offers shelter and sloping banks provide good access to the water.

Less commonly seen species are the northern snapping turtle (Elseya Dentata) and the broad-shelled turtle (Chelodina Expansa). There has also been one recorded sighting of the Mary River turtle (Elusor macrurus).

An important note for park visitors though…

In Centennial Park, turtles can at times be seen crossing roads to travel between different ponds, especially during warmer months.

Here are a few simple tips if you see turtles on the road or the ground:

  • While we would strongly encourage park visitors not to pick up turtles they come across, if a quick ‘rescue’ is needed from the middle of a roadway, then it is always advisable to place the turtle gently down on the side of the road in the direction the turtle was heading. If you place the turtle on the wrong side of the road, he/she may decide to take the journey across the road again!
  • If you come across a turtle (or any animal for that matter) in distress or injured in the Parklands, please do not approach or touch them. Your good intentions may not be read that way by the injured creature! Just call our Parklands Rangers on 0412 718 611 and let our Rangers know your location, the type of animal and what appears to be the injury or cause for concern.
  • Do not go near a turtle with a dog or other domestic animal.
Ranger Colin and turtle Turtles in Centennial Parklands!

Park Ranger Colin with a baby turtle that was on the move…but in need of a little help to get where he/she was going!


Do  you love learning about nature and the creatures around us? Or do you have a child with a fascination for the natural world? We have many kids and adults nature-based programs running throughout the year to enjoy. Check out our What’s On calendar online, or download our iPhone app today to get all the info in your pocket.


Posted by Centennial Parklands in Birds and animals, Blog, Nature
on 23 Oct 2014

Centennial Park’s Flying Fox colony…and join our tour!

22 Oct

Bats Centennial Parks Flying Fox colony...and join our tour!

Centennial Park is not only a haven for people to enjoy, but it’s also a haven for some of our most important and endangered creatures. And the best way to see and learn about them is on one of our family-friendly Spotlight Prowls.

Before we tell you about the tour, guest blogger and wildlife ecologist, Tim Pearson, tells us about some of the great sights you see in the Park at dusk.

Calling Centennial Park home…

A surprising variety of wildlife calls Centennial Park home, given the fact that the Park is located pretty much in the middle of a city of 4.5 million people. Some of this wildlife is very obvious, like the many species of birds which are always present on the lakes and ponds. Some is less so, mainly because like a lot of Australia’s native species they are nocturnal and are not out during the day. So at night, the Park comes alive with a whole different set of occupants.

At dusk, animals like Brushtail and Ringtail possums, Tawny Frogmouths, and many others wake up and prepare for the night shift. In the last few years the better known nocturnal animals have been joined by a large group of flying-foxes, who’ve taken up residence in the tops of the trees in the Lachlan Swamp.

During the day you can go and look at these big bats (both Grey-headed flying-foxes, Pteropus poliocephalus, and Black flying-foxes, Pteropus alecto) calmly going about their daytime business of alternatively sleeping, grooming, and socialising.

Of course, the real action is at dusk, when the flying-foxes leave their camp and stream out into the surrounding area (flying up to 50 km a night!) to search for food – flowering and fruiting trees. And it’s here that the flying-foxes perform their critical ecological role – they’re one of the main pollinators and seed dispersers for many of our native trees.

Flying Fox at Night Centennial Parks Flying Fox colony...and join our tour!

Flying foxes at night are an iconic Sydney sight (photo by Michael Pennay)

Not just the big ones, but…

As well as the flying-foxes (which are pretty hard to miss – they’ve got a wingspan of about 1.2 metres!) there are other bats that live in the Park, that you’d never even notice. These are the little, insect-eating microbats.

Microbats are actually quite common, but because they only come out at night, they’re pretty small (typical around 10-12 grams body weight, with a wingspan under 300 mm), and they don’t advertise their presence in any way, they pass largely unnoticed. Occasionally, you may notice one swooping through the cloud of moths and other insects that are congregating around a street-light or sportsfield light, looking almost like a large moth themselves.

You might wonder, given the fact that microbats are so small and only out at night, how we actually find them.

Well, it’s all to do with their radar or sonar (or echolocation, to give it its correct name). This is the famed ability of bats to hunt insects in the dark, which effectively involves the bat shouting very loudly and listening for the echo of the sound bouncing back off the insect. Sounds a bit rough and ready, but it’s amazingly effective and accurate, and allows these little bats to navigate and hunt in complete darkness.

How do we hear them?

The pitch of the echolocation sound is very high – way above what humans can hear, so we’re not even aware they’re doing it. Thanks to modern electronics though, we have a device that can help us and it’s called – appropriately – a ‘Bat Detector’!

A bat detector Centennial Parks Flying Fox colony...and join our tour!

Yes, that’s right – a bat detector!

These little boxes pick up the echolocation calls of the tiny microbats, and make them audible to us. So we wander around, pointing the box at the sky, and wait for it to go beep!

Actually, it typically goes beep beep beep beep beep beep beep, as microbat echolocation typically has about ten pulses a second, as they swoop through the sky in pursuit of a tasty flying bug.

The really neat thing about walking around the Park at dusk with a bat detector is that once the detector gives you a rough idea of where the bat is, you can often catch a glimpse of them zooming overhead. So as well as seeing the big flying-foxes flying overhead, and skimming the ponds to get a drink, we picked up on the bat detector more than a few microbats flying round, and managed to actually spot three or four.

Spotlight Prowls

Our regular Spotlight Prowls are for the whole family. It provides a fascinating insight into a much misunderstood creature – the flying fox – as well as learning about the nocturnal habits of a range of other native animals and birds.

Our next Spotlight Prowl is now available to book, and details are available online here.

To give you a taster, here’s a few photos from a recent tour we took that looked at the bat colony.

Entering Lachlan Swamp Centennial Parks Flying Fox colony...and join our tour!

The guided tour enters Lachlan Swamp to see the bats

Park After Dark viewing the bats Centennial Parks Flying Fox colony...and join our tour!

Standing looking up at the bat colony roosting ahead

Bat fly out Centennial Parks Flying Fox colony...and join our tour!

The bat fly-out begins at dusk

Memorable bat fly out Centennial Parks Flying Fox colony...and join our tour!

Watching a bat fly out is an absolutely memorable moment

And yes, let’s not forget our other friends that we see along the way…

Park After Dark Possums Centennial Parks Flying Fox colony...and join our tour!

We look at possums in the Park too!


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Posted by Centennial Parklands in Backstory, Birds and animals, Blog, Education
on 22 Oct 2014

Get involved in the annual Community Bird Surveys

21 Oct

SCWC Get involved in the annual Community Bird Surveys

This weekend is the annual Community Survey of White Ibis Population, and for the first time Sulphur-crested Cockatoos will also be counted. We want you to get involved in this important research.

The count will be held on Sunday 26 October 2014, although sightings will be accepted outside of this day.

Australian white ibis community survey

The Australian white ibis, Threskionis molucca, is a highly visible native water bird in New South Wales.

Prior to the 1970s, the white ibis was rarely sighted in urban areas and did not breed in the Sydney region but followed the non-permanent waters of inland lakes and rivers. Due to extensive droughts and changes in water regimes they have sought refuge in coastal wetlands.

White ibis have adapted well to the constant water and food supply available in urban environments and they are now a common site in our parks where they feed on invertebrates (beetle larvae etc.), crustaceans (yabbies etc.) and our handouts (bread etc.).

Since 2003, National Parks & Wildlife Service have been running the community survey where we ask members of the public to tell us about their white ibis sightings.

This surveys aims to improve understanding of the distribution and abundance of the Australian white ibis across NSW, helping to develop conservation practices for these birds.

Ibis Get involved in the annual Community Bird Surveys

The Ibis have been tagged and you can register your sightings online


Sulphur-crested Cockatoo population survey

Parrots are the real winners at surviving in suburbia, and the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
(Cacatua galerita) is no exception.

Historically (c. 1805), collector George Cayley encounted “large flocks in the long meadow near the Nepean River”, but it is only since the 1950s that they have colonised Sydney itself and other urban areas. Cayley reported that “they are shy and not easily approachable”. Today large flocks are at home in the very centre of Sydney where they commonly are the ones that do the approaching. Cockatoos capitalise on the “good eating” on offer in suburban parks, gardens and our balconies.

The survey is trying to provide a better understanding of the distribution and abundance of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos across NSW. This will help assess the habitats this species prefers. One of the questions we are attempting to answer is how many of these birds are actually in New South Wales?

Sulphur crested White Cockatoo Get involved in the annual Community Bird Surveys

The Sulphur-crested White Cockatoo count will occur for the first time


If you can take the time to assist, it would be greatly appreciated and will help understanding and research of some of our most important native birds.


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Posted by Centennial Parklands in Birds and animals, Blog, How you can help
on 21 Oct 2014

The Hordern Pavilion – an amazing history!

20 Oct

Hordern Pavilion The Hordern Pavilion   an amazing history!

One of Sydney’s truly iconic venues – the Hordern Pavilion – celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. It has not only stood the test of time, but shows no signs of stopping. Here is the fascinating history behind this much-loved building.

“The Hordern”, as it is affectionately known by Sydneysiders, has been an architecturally and socially significant Sydney landmark since it opened in 1924.

The increasing popularity of the Royal Easter Show and the demand for more exhibition space in the early 1920s drove the Royal Agricultural Society’s decision to remove four existing buildings – the Vehicle Pavilion, the Carriage Pavilion, the Lecture Hall and the Women’s Industries building – and replace them with the Hordern Pavilion.

Where did the name come from?

The venue was named in honour of the enterprising retail family, Anthony Hordern and Sons, and Sir Samuel Hordern, who was president of the Royal Agricultural Society from 1915 to 1941.

The building design

Designed in the Inter-War Academic Classical Style by architects Trenchard Smith & Maisey, the building featured fluted doric columns, a parapet and an imposing vaulted roof with lantern tower and cost £45,000 to build.

Incorporated in the design were a concrete floor, large door entrances and a spacious interior to easily accommodate vehicles and large machinery.  The Hordern also served as a formal entrance façade to the Showground and was considered to “exemplify the dignity and enterprise of modern business”.

Construction of the Hordern Pavilion 1924 photo courtesy RAS The Hordern Pavilion   an amazing history!

Construction of the Hordern Pavilion, 1924 (photo courtesy RAS)

Exhibits of excellence

The new venue was an impressive site for attendees at the Royal Easter Show of 1924. The Sydney Morning Herald of April 17, reported: “the architectural features of the new Hordern Pavilion have been much admired by visitors to the show.  Throughout yesterday a large crowd passed steadily through, dividing their attention between the exhibits on the floor and the massive superstructure which supports the roof”.

The range of products on show at the Easter Show in that first year was enormous.  There were motor vehicles, wireless radio communication displays and food items from (amongst others) Johnson Condiment Co, Glaxo, Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, IXL and Rosella Preserving & Manufacturing Co. The Singer Sewing Machine Co also displayed a variety of models!

In the first year, scale models of the ocean liners Moreton Bay and Otway proved very popular, as did the Wm Docker Ltd display of paints – which included a large model of the “proposed Harbour Bridge”.

The Hordern 1920s The Hordern Pavilion   an amazing history!

The Hordern, circa 1920s

In the period leading up to World War II, the venue featured the newest and best Australian products and the content reflected the changing nature of Australia as a country. By the mid 1930s, there were more high-end items on display – grand pianos from Elvy & Co, wireless receivers, Regal and Globite luggage trunks and cases, modern gas appliances from the Australian Gas Light Company, high quality Bear & Co furniture and large exhibits from Lustre Hosiery who showcased machinery used in the manufacture of their garments.

Many uses, including some unusual ones!

Aside from the Easter Show, the Hordern was utilised for a variety of events, some of which were a little unusual.

In 1925 the first covered tennis courts in Australia were constructed in the venue, in 1932 the venue hosted the Australian model aeroplane contest, in 1934 the Hordern became sleeping quarters for a national gathering of the Youth Australia League and during WWII it was occupied by the Army and used as a bulk store.

Becoming a live music icon

The most significant change for the venue came in the early 1970s. The explosion of interest in Rock & Roll music in the 1950s, combined with the improved availability of air travel, resulted in a substantial increase in the number of artists touring Australia.  As a consequence, the Sydney Stadium at Rushcutters Bay became the venue of choice for major international acts such as Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Cliff Richard and, of course, The Beatles.

When the Stadium was demolished in 1970 to make way for the Eastern Suburbs railway, the Royal Agricultural Society saw an opportunity and undertook to convert the Hordern Pavilion from an exhibition hall to a multi-purpose venue capable of hosting music and sporting events.

This conversion included the removal of the majority of the columns and the installation of a truss system, the inclusion of a false ceiling and bar and box office facilities as well as a mezzanine corporate box area.

This move heralded the beginning of a golden age of rock music in Sydney according to Glenn A. Baker, rock historian and thrice-crowned Rock Brain of the Universe: “Nothing much had happened since ’68. The vibe was bad. A girl died at the Monkees in ’68, and there was terrible social pressure on rock. The international acts, which had played Randwick Racecourse and Sydney Stadium, weren’t coming any more. Sydney was desperate for a new venue.”

Exploding onto the rock scene

Lou Reed in Concert The Hordern Pavilion   an amazing history!


The work was completed in February 1972 and the following 11 years proved to be extremely busy.

During this period there were an estimated 1,237 events which drew a total attendance of 3,805,500. Virtually every major act that played in Sydney from 1972 (until the opening of the Sydney Entertainment Centre in May 1983) performed at the Hordern, and the list reads like a who’s who of contemporary entertainment.

Artists included:

  • Chicago
  • Jethro Tull
  • Cat Stevens
  • Roy Orbison
  • Joe Cocker
  • Liberace
  • Cliff Richard
  • The Jackson 5
  • Santana
  • Status Quo
  • BB King
  • The Supremes
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Lou Reed
  • AC/DC
  • Bee Gees
  • Eric Clapton
  • Paul McCartney & Wings
  • The Eagles
  • Neil Diamond
  • Queen
  • Billy Joel
  • Bob Marley
  • Elton John
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • The Police
  • Stevie Wonder
  • UB40
  • Dire Straits

“The rock scene came surging back and the Hordern was the epicentre,” wrote Glen A. Baker. “Jethro Tull, Eric Clapton, Yes, Gordon Lightfoot – so many great nights. One amazing moment came when a certain Norman Gunston, aka Garry McDonald, climbed onstage and played harmonica with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.”

But not just rock

Aside from the many concerts, the venue was the home to many large meetings and congresses, children’s shows, ice shows, religious events, ethnic shows and sporting events, both serious (boxing, tennis and gymnastics) and not so serious (Harlem Globetrotters, wrestling and roller derby). The Australian Ballet featuring Rudolph Nureyev even performed in the venue, and in 1982 the Hordern hosted six different tennis tournaments!

Another shift in the use of the Hordern came in the guise of the Dance Parties of the mid to late 1980s. The venue was first used for this purpose by Mardi Gras in October 1984 and this was followed by the Sleaze Ball in 1985. Mardi Gras used the venue intermittently over the next few years until their events became fixtures at the Hordern Pavilion and Royal Hall of Industries from 1991 to the present day.

After the Entertainment Centre opened

After the opening of the Sydney Entertainment Centre, most of the major tours generally played the “EntCent”, but the Hordern continued to attract a host of local and up-and-coming acts. The period cemented the Hordern with its reputation as a local favourite. Between 1983 and 1999 acts that played included:

  • The Angels
  • David Bowie
  • INXS
  • Midnight Oil
  • Jimmy Barnes
  • Australian Crawl
  • Style Council
  • Crowded House
  • Hunters & Collectors
  • Paul Kelly
  • Iggy Pop
  • R.E.M.
  • The Ramones
  • The B-52s
  • Public Enemy
  • Nirvana (at Big Day Out – see Youtube clip)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Green Day
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Silverchair
Hordern by the 1990s The Hordern Pavilion   an amazing history!

The Hordern continues to draw a variety of performers, events and exhibitions

Becoming part of Centennial Parklands

In 1997, the Royal Easter Show moved to Homebush Bay, and the Hordern Pavilion (and adjacent Royal Hall of Industries) became independent venues. They were renovated and refurbished in 1999 and re-opened by new operators the Nebenzahl family’s Playbill Venue Management.

The Hordern remains a concert venue and, as has been the case since 1983, it is the place to go to “get up close and personal” with your favourite act before they move to Arenas or Stadiums.

Despite the ‘competition’ of other venues in Sydney, the Hordern has continued to attract some of the biggest acts. In recent years the list of performers include:

  • the Chemical Brothers
  • Ben Harper
  • Coldplay
  • Jamiroquai
  • Foo Fighters
  • John Butler Trio
  • John Mayer
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Maroon 5
  • Kanye West
  • James Blunt
  • The Killers
  • Snow Patrol
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Kings of Leon
  • Florence & The Machine
  • Ke$ha
  • One Direction
One Direction photo by Eva Rinaldi The Hordern Pavilion   an amazing history!

One Direction at The Hordern (photo by Eva Rinaldi used under Creative Commons)


The Hordern continues to host live music and comedy, while also a acting as a busy exhibition and function venue. It has held many significant private functions, including hosting the AFL’s prestigious Brownlow Medal presentation on the only occasion it has ever taken place outside of Melbourne!

Ninety years after it opened to much public acclaim, the Hordern Pavilion remains one of Sydney’s best-loved entertainment landmarks and it will undoubtedly continue to have a significant role to play in the Sydney venue landscape.

The Hordern has an amazing history, so feel free to use the comment feature below to tell us your favourite Hordern memories!

Concert venue The Hordern Pavilion   an amazing history!

The Hordern is probably the most iconic live music venue in Sydney over the last 40 years

Thanks to Playbill Venue Management for assisting with this post.


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Posted by Centennial Parklands in Blog, History and heritage
on 20 Oct 2014
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