“It is emphatically the People’s Park… one of the grandest adornments of this beautiful country” - Sir Henry Parkes, opening Centennial Park, 26 January 1888.
Facts in brief
- Opened: 1888
- Size: 189 hectares
- Description: A grand park in the Victorian period tradition featuring formal gardens, ponds, grand avenues, statues, historic buildings and sporting fields
- Historic features: Federation Pavilion, Lachlan Swamp, Superintendants Residence, Reservoir No. 1
A short history of Centennial Park
Centennial Park has a distinctive and special place in Australian history and culture. It was once a huge catchment of creeks, swamps, springs, sand dunes and ponds fed by ground water, and was traditionally home to the Gadi people.
In 1811, Governor Lachlan Macquarie designated the area as the second Sydney Common and it was used for grazing, lime burning and timber clearing.
In 1825, convict labour was used to build a 3.5 km underground aqueduct, known as Busbys Bore, from the swamps to Hyde Park. This bore supplied Sydney’s main water supply from 1837 to 1859.
In 1888, Sir Henry Parkes dedicated Centennial Park as a public open space for the enjoyment of the people of NSW. Hundreds of unemployed men were enlisted to turn swamps, scrub and rock into a grand park in the Victorian tradition with formal gardens, ponds, statues and wide avenues for Sydneysiders to drive their carriages around to ‘take the air’.
On 1 January 1901, Centennial Park became the focus of the nation as the site of the inauguration of Australian Federation (this event is commemorated today by the Federation Pavilion).
More than 100 years later, Centennial Park remains a people’s park – a beautiful recreation area in the middle of Sydney’s densely populated eastern suburbs. It is also home to diverse flora and fauna and many significant tree plantings, including spectacular Port Jackson figs, Holm oaks and Norfolk Island pines dating back to the early 20th century.
Today Centennial Park is a playground for adults and children of all ages and is one of the few inner city parks in the world to offer horse riding facilities.
Use the options on the left hand navigation panel to find out more about Centennial Park and its features.
- Find out more about Centennial Park's history
- Find out more about the tree planting history of Centennial Park
- Find out more about historic features and buildings in Centennial Park