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2 May 2019

The Brolga guarding the Bird Sanctuary

Some of the most iconic and enduring features of Centennial Park are the imposing sandstone gates that stand at the main entry points. However, there’s a few gates of lesser profile tucked away around the Park that you may not even be aware of, like the Brolga Gate.

This is the Brolga Gate which stands at the entrance to the bird sanctuary in the centre of Centennial Park. It has stood in the park for almost 80 years since the bird sanctuary was opened in 1939.

It was erected by the Gould League of Bird lovers in memory of their long-time secretary Mr Harold W. Hamilton. He was secretary for 17 years before passing away in 1933.

The Gould league was “set up to prevent bird egg collecting and to educate for the protection of Australian birds” which makes it a fitting gate for the popular Centennial Park bird sanctuary.

This beautiful little gate is easily missed but has a significant past, particularly for the many bird lovers that enjoy the park.

The Brolga Gate in Centennial Park
The Brolga Gate in Centennial Park


Did you know? There is an urban legend that an Emu once lived within the Bird Sanctuary!

The Gate in Centennial Park

The Brolga Gate in Centennial Park was designed in 1939 by Jack Castle-Harris, well-known in pottery, ceramics and the arts at the time.

Originally located in the Lachlan Reserve area (where exactly is a little unclear!), however in 1953 it was moved to its present location near Centennial Homestead. 

The Brolga Gate was assessed as High Heritage Significance and the original endemic plant species within the sanctuary also contribute to Centennial Parklands historical significance.

historical bird sanctuary 1943
An aerial photograph of the Bird Sanctuary circa 1943.


The Bird Sanctuary is roughly 0.9 ha in size and although it isn't open to the public, the Bushcare Program has a dedicated group of volunteers that have been tending to the sanctuary for over 15 years.

The Bird Sanctuary also helps to conserve the critically endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS).

There is an abundance of vegetation for the birds to nest and feast on including closed-scrub to tall open-shrubland throughout much of the site.

Tall shrubs which make up the bulk of the upper vegetation include the Sydney Golden Wattle (Acacia longifolia), Tick Bush (Kunzea ambigua) and Tree Broom Heath (Monotoca elliptica).

​Other ESBS species are Wallum Banksia (Banksia aemula), Mountain Devil (Lambertia formosa) and Coastal Tea Tree (Leptospermum laevigatum).

Rainbow looikeet.jpg
A Rainbow Lorikeet enjoying the Banksia within the Bird Sanctuary at Centennial Parklands.

What types of birds can be found inside?

Native birds, including the Powerful Owl, have been recorded in the Bird Sanctuary. The bush remnant also provides habitat for brushtail possums, blue-tongue lizards and skinks, and Grey-headed Flying-foxes.

Other birds that are often seen in the sanctuary include the Australasian Magpie, Australian White Ibis, Crested pigeon, Grey Butcherbird, Laughing Kookaburra, Noisy Friarbird, Noisy Miner, Pied Currawong, Rainbow Lorikeet, Welcome Swallow and Yellow-tailed black cockatoos.

Baby Kookaburras are kept safe in the Bird Sanctuary. 

Care for our green spaces

Centennial Parklands is one of Australia's largest and most popular public spaces, hosting more than 31 million visits every year.

People aren't the only ones who visit so we encourage everyone to Share the Park with the animals and wildlife who rest, nest, eat and live in the Parklands.

Whether you visit as cyclist, pedestrian, dog walker, horse rider or a motorist, you can do some things to help us Share the Park:

Pick up your rubbish or someone else will. Help protect our wildlife and waterways by disposing of your rubbish thoughtfully.

Watch out for your dog. Our ponds can be very tempting for dogs to run into, for the safety of your dog and for our wildlife we ask that you keep dogs on leash when inside Grand Drive.

There’s plenty of ways to contribute to an environmentally sustainable Parklands, but feeding the birds is not one of them. Don't give a duck (bread) - watch our video to find out more! 

Animals are most active around sunrise and sunset. Take extra care around these times when driving and cycling. The speed limit in the park is 30kph.

Find out how you can get involved with Share the Park here

Category: News, Events, History, Nature
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