Centennial Park in Sydney is a place that is so well known to many – but it’s also a place that continues to hold a few secrets. One little mystery relates to the Centennial Park Sundial in Column Garden!
Column Garden is one of the most popular locations in the Parklands – many weddings have been held beneath the column, and recently we made this garden even more colourful with a 48-hour planting blitz.
Sitting quietly (but centrally) in the Garden is an old sundial atop a sandstone plinth which features an inscription: “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May”.
The sundial is certainly a lovely feature, but its origins remain a distinct mystery. One tale about how it came to be in the Park has been passed into folklore. Whether fact or urban myth, it is quite a tale.
How the sundial came to be?
Several years ago one of the Parklands’ Rangers was walking through Column Garden when he was approached by an elderly park visitor. She pointed to the sundial and asked if he knew of its origin. He said he didn’t – so she shared the following tale.
Her relatives lived on the south side of Centennial Park, on Darley Road, for many generations. Many years ago one member of the household was a young girl who was unfortunately diagnosed with a terminal illness. The doctors had told the girls’ parents that there was nothing they could do for her, and they should take her home to let her spend her last days at home. This they duly did.
While the girl was at home, the Park’s horticultural staff (who knew the family) donated branches from the Park’s palm trees to lay on the road in front of their house. This muffled the sound of steel shoes worn by passing horses; and the steel wheels of carts pulled by horses, making the girl much more comfortable during her last days.
The girl died in due course, and the grateful family donated the sundial in appreciation.
Great park, great history
Whether this tale is fact or fiction, there is one thing that is not in doubt. Centennial Park is a great park, but what makes it truly great is the sheer depth of stories and events that make up the Park’s history.
There are several ways you can dive into the fascinating history of Centennial Park:
- Download our free self-guided history walk app on your smartphone
- Pick up a copy of our free self-guided history brochure from the Visitor Information Counter
- Buy a copy of the official history book – The People’s Park: Centennial Park A History