AGHS National Conference 2021 Presentation

The People’s Park – Centennial Park to 1901

Presenter: Professor Paul Ashton

Running time: 25 mins
File download format: M4V (MPEG-4)

The People’s Park – Centennial Park to 1901
All landscapes are complex. And Centennial Park is no exception. Inscribed on it are ideas of beauty, utility, empire, eugenics and euthenics – nature and nurture – class and belonging. The park was constructed from mid 1887 for the centenary of colonisation in the following year. But its creation reflected Indigenous occupancy. The northern boundary was an Aboriginal walking track. And its formation was in many ways accidental. If the area hadn’t been set aside as a water reserve in the 1810s it would have been covered by terrace and other housing. This presentation surveys this magnificent artefact’s evolution from a wasteland in the early nineteenth century to the so-called ‘birth place’ of a nation.

Professor Paul Ashton
Professor Paul Ashton is an adjunct at the University of Technology Sydney – where he co-established the Australian Centre for Public History in 1999 – 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-five books. These include a history of town planning in Sydney – The Accidental City (Hale & Iremonger) – Once Upon a Time: Australian Writers on Using the Past (Australian Scholarly Publishing) and What is Public History Globally? Working with the past in the present (Bloomsbury) which he co-edited. He has on a number of occasions been a judge for the NSW Premier’s History Awards and is a member of the Heritage Office of NSW’s Heritage Advisory Committee. Paul is currently writing a series of creative non-fiction children’s history books for late primary and early high school pupils and co-editing a book on ‘The History Industry in Australia’ (forthcoming 2021 from Australian Scholarly Publishing).

Photograph by Joanna Saad

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