A bird’s eye view of the bats

23 Jul

Banner 600w A birds eye view of the bats

We love to share photos, videos and different perspectives of Centennial Parklands but today we have something really special for you!

Earlier this month, we trialled a new method of tree assessment and environmental monitoring across the Parklands using a CASA controlled and licenced Octocopter, operated by experienced pilots from Hoverscape.

Why are we trialling this new method?

Aerial monitoring and assessment of Centennial Parklands will allow our experienced staff to carry out environmental monitoring, tree assessments, and project planning using aerial photography and videography, which has not been possible in the past.

The first trial involved an aerial survey of Centennial Park’s Lachlan Swamp, which is home to Sydney’s largest grey-headed flying fox colony. Regular tree assessment and environmental monitoring is required in this area to ensure the ongoing health and sustainability of our ecosystems as bat colony numbers fluctuate with the seasons.

The specialist Hoverscape team, as well as members of our experienced arborist team, captured never-before seen images of the Swamp’s trees, landscape, and recorded the GPS locations of these trees using this new technology. Our aborist team were able to view the images in real time, using special glasses, as the Octocopter flew above the area being surveyed (see image below).

Before you see these amazing images, it’s important for us to point out that Octocopters, drones and motorised toys are not permitted for personal use in Centennial Parklands as they could pose a risk to park visitors. Special permission was granted for this trial to proceed.

We hope you enjoy these images from the first trial including a fly-over video (it’s only 56 secs) for a breathtaking view of Centennial Park that you have never seen before!

Hoverscape 2 A birds eye view of the bats

Sweeping views of Moore Park and Sydney city


Hoverscape 1 A birds eye view of the bats

Views across Loch Avenue South and Bondi Junction


Hoverscape 3 A birds eye view of the bats

Aerial view over Lachlan Swamp’s Lily Pond and bridge

operators 600w A birds eye view of the bats

On the left is the specialist Hoverscape team and to the right is Centennial Parklands’ Senior Arborist Ted Hoare experiencing a birds eye view of Centennial Park’s Lachlan Swamp


We hope you enjoy this different perspective of the Parklands….

Posted by Centennial Parklands in Birds and animals, Blog, Filming and Photography, Nature, Parklands Management, Photography, Ponds, Research, Trees and plants
on 23 Jul 2014

Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

22 Jul

Griffin Mouth Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

Two creatures have been watching over Centennial Park since the 1890s. Maybe you’ve met them.

A protective and ancient set of eyes (or two sets of eyes) have been keeping watch since the 1890s. These protective presences are part of a tradition that dates back several millienia. These presences are two fantastic sculptures that you may have walked past many times without stopping. Hopefully next time you might pause and take a closer look.

Meet the griffins

Griffin Historic Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

One of the Griffins, in place since the 1890s

Two griffin sculptures were originally installed on Parkes Drive in the 1890s, at the junction of Hamilton Drive near the statue of Sir Henry Parkes.

Originally manufactured by Villeroy and Boch, they were made of ceramic and sat on the same sandstone plinths they sit on today.

By 1946 the griffins had deteriorated badly. Each sculpture was missing detail including the head, wings and feet. The surface coating of the sculptures and the mouldings on the top coping stones of the plinths had also eroded.

By 1971 they were removed for safekeeping to the Centennial Parklands Depot.

Firstly, what is a Griffin?

The Griffin, according to Encyclopaedia Mythica, is a legendary creature with the head, beak and wings of an eagle, the body of a lion and occasionally the tail of a serpent or scorpion.

Its origin lies somewhere in the Middle East where it is found in the paintings and sculptures of the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians and Persians.

The later Romans used them for decoration and even in Christian times the Griffin motif often appears. Griffins were frequently used as gargoyles on medieval churches and buildings.

Griffins are usually heroic symbols. They are well known for their speed, ability to fly and having eyes like an eagle, as well as the strength and courage of a lion (there’s even more information about Griffins here if you’re interested).

But Centennial Park’s Griffins don’t have eagle heads

True. Although referred to as griffins, winged lions such as the ones seen in Centennial Park are not true griffins but a hybrid known as a ‘gryphonic’. True griffins have the face, beak, talons and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion.

So, what happened to the Griffins in Centennial Park after 1971?

The Griffins sat in the Centennial Park Depot for around 30 years. Then in December 2004, an opportunity arose to work with a consortium of organisations to fully restore and return the Griffins to Centennial Park (this consortia included the then Department of Commerce, Government Architects Office, Heritage Services, Maxim Consulting and Millennium Art Services).

Griffin Pre restore2 Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

The Griffins, pre-restoration, are moved to the Government Stoneyard

The modelling of the missing portions of the griffins was carried out on the existing griffins—allowing for complete accuracy. The modelling was guided by the catalogue supplied by Villeroy and Boch in Germany.

Once completed, the mould making process began. The missing elements were modelled in clay then coated with silicon rubber between 6-8mm thick. Once the rubber was cured, castings were made of a micro-ceramic composite material. 16mm stainless steel rods were set into the wings and head for reinforcement.

Griffin Pre restore4 Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

One of the Griffins in the stoneyard awaiting restoration

Returned to Centennial Park

Griffin Lowered into place Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

One of the Griffins lowered into place

On Thursday 7 April 2005, a small ceremony was held to mark the return of the Griffins to Centennial Park.

The Griffins were lifted off the back of a truck and lowered onto the original plinths that they had stood in since the 1890s.

The then NSW Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, the Hon Sandra Nori MP, said the return of the two statues marked a great day in the history of Centennial Parklands.

“To see the return of these lovingly-restored creatures gives a sense of the Parklands as they looked many years ago,” Ms Nori said.

“These two magnificent creatures will once again guard the statue of Sir Henry Parkes as diligently as they guarded their gold in ancient mythology.”

The Griffins today

We have since installed uplighting of the Griffins which park visitors may enjoy if they are walking by at dusk most evenings.

The Griffins today stand either side of Parkes Drive in Centennial Park, flanking the statue of Sir Henry Parkes.

Griffin Near Parkes Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

Griffin statue standing near Sir Henry Parkes statue – photo by Phil Quirk

Griffin Wing Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

Close details of the Griffin wing – photo by Suzanne Peri-Chapman

Griffin Today Griffins stand guard over Centennial Park for more than a century

The Griffin today – photo by Phil Quirk


There is a story behind everything. Want more stories from your favourite park? Buy Centennial Park A History. Over 125 years of great tales. A beautiful gift for the lover of Centennial Park.



Posted by Centennial Parklands in Blog, History and heritage, Statues
on 22 Jul 2014

A papal visit to Centennial Park

21 Jul

WYD SYD A papal visit to Centennial Park

Yesterday, six years ago, World Youth Day was held at Randwick Racecourse and Pope Benedict XVI came through Centennial Park. Remember it? Here’s how we saw it!

The final mass was on 20 July 2008 and we spent more than two years planning for an expected 200,000 people to come to Centennial Park as part of an overflow event. While the main mass over at the Racecourse seemed quite successful, the numbers coming to Centennial Park were about 198,000 short of expectation!

It was a pleasant day nonetheless…here’s some pics:


WYD Crowd A papal visit to Centennial Park

The crowds begin to gather in Centennial Park…

Bins at World Youth Day A papal visit to Centennial Park

…and the event site was well catered for.

Aussie flag A papal visit to Centennial Park

Celebrations were underway in anticipation…

Pope Mobile in Centennial Park A papal visit to Centennial Park

…and here comes the Pope Mobile!

Was that him A papal visit to Centennial Park

“Umm…did that Pope Mobile look empty to you?”

Where was the Pope if not in his Pope Mobile?

For an unexplained reason (perhaps someone can help with this information?) the Pope was brought through in a sedan following the Pope Mobile a few minutes later.

Pope on screen A papal visit to Centennial Park

Aah, there he is finally on the big screen.

Although crowd numbers made it easy to be spotted A papal visit to Centennial Park

Although a good day out, crowd numbers in Centennial Park were down….making it easy to be spotted (ouch, sorry…)


Did you attend World Youth Day? Did you come to Centennial Park? What are your memories about this time?

Want more information on World Youth Day 2008 – here’s the Sydney Morning Herald’s collection of articles and images.


Posted by Centennial Parklands in Events, History and heritage, Photo of the week
on 21 Jul 2014

Centennial Park – how it came to be

18 Jul

Starting Centennial Park 1886 Centennial Park   how it came to be

Tomorrow marks the 128th anniversary of the ‘first shovel in the ground’ that created Centennial Park!

On 19 July 1886 work began on creating what was to become the largest urban park in the southern hemisphere. This was an immensely challenging project – turning an area of land that was swamp, scrub and rocky outcrop into a Victorian-era parklands.

So where did the idea of the Park begin?

During the late 1870s people were lobbying the Councils of Woollahra and Paddington to use the Water Reserve at Lachlan Swamps as a public park when its water supply function ended in 1886. It was an ideal location for a park, given that 65% of metropolitan Sydney was living within a 5 mile (8 km) radius of the area. The area had become densely populated and it was felt by the local residents that an ‘additional air lung to the city’ was needed.

Behind the scenes, though, there was a mix of bold vision, politics, personal ambition and pragmatic idealism. The best summary of this period comes from the Dictionary of Sydney, from which the following is taken:

For some time before the colony’s [New South Wales] centenary in 1888, officials and notables had been contemplating how to mark the event. By 1886, the idea of a ‘centennial’ park had been accepted in principle. A grand park in the English tradition fitted well with the aims of the Imperial Mission – the provision of ‘civilising’ institutions such as art galleries for the colonies.

Lord Carrington ML Centennial Park   how it came to be

Lord Carrington (photo courtesy of Mitchell Library)

In November 1886, Frederick Augustus Franklin – an English civil engineer and municipal politician, persuaded a large party of interested people to visit the water reserve to assess its potential as parkland. They included the Premier, Sir Henry Parkes, the Governor, Lord Carrington, and the director of the Botanic Gardens, Charles Moore.

The site was declared suitable for the creation of a grand park and the wheels were set in motion to realise this regal plan. The park’s naming, however, did not reveal the political influences in play. ‘Carrington’ – a name suggested in honour of the park’s imperial patron – was secretly shunned: it smacked of elitism. As William Trickett, the Mayor of Woollahra and MP for Paddington, wrote to Franklin: ‘We must be careful to foster the idea that the park is for the people.’

Franklin found Parkes to be an enthusiastic promoter. After his landslide electoral victory as Premier of New South Wales in February 1887, Parkes was keen to ‘emphatically and grandly’ mark the ‘greater epoch in Australian history’ – the centenary. He had a special interest in parks and believed in the liberal goals of the ‘improvement’ and ‘beautification’ of cities for the moral benefit of urban dwellers (as well as to promote economic stability). The creation of public parks was an important feature of such reformism.

The idea of a ‘people’s park’ found general favour and the scheme went ahead, albeit without Franklin, who was ostracised by his political masters.

The Centennial Celebration Act passed smoothly through Parliament during the first half of 1887, making provision for the park. But Parkes’ vision of a State House within its grounds provoked debate and never eventuated (read the story about the State House proposal here).

Work on Centennial Park began on 19 July 1887.

So there we are. It was a long road, yet at the same time a short road to get political consensus, action and funding to celebrate the centenary of the colony with the creation of Centennial Park.

What is not covered by this story is the amazing physical effort that went into creating something out of nothing within 18 months. Consider for a moment the tools and machinery that may have been available back in 1886. Nothing like what we have today.

Here are a series of amazing photos from the time that show what the land upon which Centennial Park is built looked like at the outset of this project. It was an incredible transformation!

Surveyors looking across the future Centennial Park ML Centennial Park   how it came to be

Surveyors looking across the future Centennial Park (photo courtesy of Mitchell Library)

Working on creating Centennial Park NLA Centennial Park   how it came to be

Working on creating Centennial Park (photo courtesy National Library of Australia)

Rocky outcrop ML Centennial Park   how it came to be

Part of the land was rocky outcrop (photo courtesy of Mitchell Library)

Men working on the Parks creation ML Centennial Park   how it came to be

Men working on the Park’s creation (photo courtesy of Mitchell Library)

Centennial Park circa 1891 NLA Centennial Park   how it came to be

This is how Centennial Park looked around two years later – note the columns that are still in place today (photo courtesy of National Library of Australia)


Think you know Centennial Park? Think again! Buy Centennial Park A History for more great stories from the past.



Posted by Centennial Parklands in Blog, History and heritage
on 18 Jul 2014

They weren’t always so beautiful!

17 Jul

Ponds They werent always so beautiful!

The ponds of Centennial Park – they are some of the most iconic, picturesque and most-loved parts of the Parklands. However, like many aspects of Centennial Park, we all take for granted what we know today – they weren’t always so beautiful!

Here is a couple of images of what we enjoy today…

Duck Pond They werent always so beautiful!

Duck Pond – image by Phil Quirk

Busbys Pond They werent always so beautiful!

Busbys Pond – image by Phil Quirk


Here is a couple of images of what our ponds looked like in the early 1980s before the Trust was established…

Musgrave Pond They werent always so beautiful!

Musgrave Pond, circa 1981

Willow Pond They werent always so beautiful!

Willow Pond, circa 1980

I think you’ll agree, we probably under-appreciate what we have today.

We need your help to keep them clean and beautiful

Help us keep what we have and not go back to what we had by:

  1. In Centennial Park, please dispose of litter thoughtfully and use the right bins;
  2. Outside Centennial Park, please don’t throw rubbish down the gutters and stormwater drains. It ends up in our ponds and other waterways across Sydney.

Thanks in advance!

The health of the environment is important, and so to is the health of park visitors. Want to know how you can improve your health and fitness in Centennial Parklands? Subscribe to our monthly Health and Fitness eNews.


Posted by Centennial Parklands in Blog, History and heritage, Parklands Management
on 17 Jul 2014
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