Australian Garden History Society
Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

NSW Branch: Walk and Talk by Professor Paul Ashton

24 June 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm AEST

This branch Walk and Talk through ‘Centennial Park: the people’s park’ will be conducted by Professor Paul Ashton.

Riding on bicycle or horseback, strolling through or simply sitting in Centennial Park today, it may at first be difficult to imagine the place more than a century ago when this magnificent urban park was under construction. Hundreds of jobless Sydney men were set to work on the monumental task of converting a bleak, though dramatic and inherently picturesque landscape into parkland. Sandhills and earth were moved, countless loads of fill carted in, rocky outcrops destroyed and new plantings made in the course of superimposing elite nineteenth-century taste onto a piece of antipodean terrain which had already been partly transformed by European exploitation.

Personalities and politics, too, bore greatly on Centennial Park’s beginnings. But the process of formation, albeit less spectacular than the initial burst of activity, did not stop with the Park’s establishment.

While its fabric remains basically unaltered, park culture and management have reflected change in Australian society. Victorian moralists, Sydney’s urbanisation, growth in concern for both natural and human environments and the rise of that ‘infernal contraption’ the motor car, have, among other things, had varying impacts on the Park’s face and fame. These and other things will be ‘read’ in the landscape during this walk.

Professor Paul Ashton is an adjunct at the University of Technology Sydney – where he co-established the Australian Centre for Public History – at Macquarie University and at the University of Canberra. Co-founder and editor of the journal Public History Review, he has authored, co-authored and edited over thirty-seven books. These include a history of town planning in Sydney – The Accidental City Once Upon a Time: Australian Writers on Using the Past and a history of Centennial Park. He is a member of the NSW Heritage Council’s Heritage Committee and has on a number of occasions been a judge for the NSW Premier’s History Awards. He was also a founder of the University of Technology Sydney’s community engagement program Shopfront and its Director for fifteen years.


Meet: at Paddington Gates entrance to park from Oxford Street, cnr Lang Road.

Cost: Members $20, guests $30, students $5, includes light refreshments.

Bookings essential. Online Bookings:

Enquiries for all events Tempe Beaven 0410 522 685 or 02 9424 0152 email

Payments by internet bank transfer to: Australian Garden History Society Sydney & Northern NSW Branch

ANZ Bank, Centrepoint Branch BSB 012040 Account 101762565, include your name and the function

By cheque: Australian Garden History Society and mailed to: David Low, 28 Brentwood Avenue, Warrawee, 2074, including name and function on back.


24 June 2018
2:00 pm - 4:30 pm AEST
Event Categories: