AGHS National Conference 2021 Presentation

Sydney Gardens and Landscape in the 1960s – 1970s

Presenter: Colleen Morris

Running time: 47 mins
File download format: M4V (MPEG-4)

Sydney Gardens and Landscape in the 1960s-70s
As women’s skirts grew shorter, men’s hair longer and the enormous skeletal form of the shells of the Opera House emerging on Bennelong Point became Sydney’s defining image of the 1960s, in the parks and suburbs a slow revolution of organic modernism took hold. Along the new freeway to Newcastle landscape architect Peter Spooner orchestrated a route through a monumental almost sculptural sandstone landscape replanted with native vegetation. In north west Sydney, the Carlingford Homes Fair of May-June 1962 demonstrated a modern approach to suburban living with superior quality housing designed by a range of young, talented architects in a bush landscape setting designed by Rex Hazlewood. And for suburban gardeners Designing Australian Bush Gardens appeared at the cost of 10 shillings or $1 in the new currency of 1966.

By the 1970s the pace of ‘progress’ gave rise to radical Green bans, the first of which was to protect Kelly’s Bush, an undeveloped piece of bushland in the suburb of Hunter’s Hill. The potential of former industrial sites abutting Sydney Harbour to be transformed to public parks began to be realised. At Illoura (Peacock Point) and Yurulbin Reserves, Bruce Mackenzie reconstructed foreshore landscapes in a style he later termed ‘Alternative Parkland’. In parallel to this environmental phase of modernism and the urge to conserve the old and recover the bush, came an impetus to document and review historic gardens, a drive that grew in strength by the close of the 1970s.

Colleen Morris
Colleen Morris is a landscape heritage consultant, author and curator with expertise in the areas of cultural landscape assessment, garden history and conservation management. In addition to garden history and botanical art, Colleen is particularly interested in the management of cultural landscapes, how they enrich our lives and the stories they tell about our communities. She is a member of the Heritage Council of NSW, the committee of the Florilegium Society at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney and is Deputy Chair of the National Trust Landscape Conservation Committee. Colleen was AGHS National Chair 2003-2009.

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