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History of tree plantings

There are more than 16,000 trees and 115 tree species in the Parklands – most of which may be found in Centennial Park.

Since the creation of Centennial Parklands, a succession of Directors have ordered major tree plantings. 


1860s: Moore Park is best known for Charles Moore's plantings of the historic avenue of figs along the length of Anzac Parade (then called Randwick Road) in the 1860s. There are fine examples of Port Jackson and Moreton Bay figs running the length of the park on Anzac Parade.

1880: A world-wide boom in Park creation led Charles Moore’s plantings and layout to be influenced by the Gardenesque style and the work of John Claudius Loudon.

1887 – 1896: In 1896 trees were planted around Grand Drive in a special sequence of two Port Jackson figs, a Holm Oak, followed by a Port Jackson fig, Norfolk Island Pine and Holm Oak. This design cleverly overcame the problem of arranging an avenue of trees around a circular road and means visitors can stand anywhere on Grand Drive and see three tree species. This planting continues along Federation Way, which links Centennial Park and Moore Park. Federation Way was originally envisaged as the park’s western gateway.

Trees associated with Charles Moore and James Jones (overseer) during this period include:

  • Moreton Bay fig

  • Port Jackson fig

  • Norfolk Island pine

  • Cook pine

  • Hoop pine

  • Silky oak

1889: The first planting of trees along Grand Drive occurred. The planting included a variety of species including figs, elms, poplars and pines.

1896 – 1924: Port Jackson figs were planted in Parkes Drive in 1900. Adjoining Parkes Drive, near Centennial Park's Paddington Gates is a prominent planting of paperbarks. The paperbarks were planted by Joseph Maiden, who replaced Charles Moore in 1896.

Maiden had a more scientific approach to plantings and considered soil and climate over stylistic convention in his choices. He also favoured native trees, which was unusual for the time and the Paperbark Grove is now one of the most photographed areas in the Park.

1897: Grand Drive was re-planted by William Forsyth, who was Centennial Park's overseer from 1892-1910, during the time of both Moore and Maiden. Grand Drive's re-planting involved removing the elms, poplars and pines and replanting with the current planting sequence of two figs, an oak, a fig, a Norfolk Island pine and finally an oak. Forsyth was also an advocate of native plantings and their use escalated during the time of Maiden and Forsyth.

Trees associated with the more experimental plantings of Joseph Maiden and William Forsyth during this period include:

  • Cootamundra wattle

  • Coral tree

  • Port Jackson fig

  • Five-veined paperbark

  • Canary Islands date palm

  • Mexican cotton palm


1900: Shaded by huge trees, Loch Avenue leads down from Sandstone Ridge into Federation Valley. The planting along this roadway occurred during 1900 and features araucarias, Port Jackson figs and Holm Oaks.

1908: Parkes Drive was planted with rows of Canary Island palms. The perceived success of his heralded the widespread planting of palms across the Parklands.

1930s: Planting slowed significantly, perhaps due to the change of Parklands administration from the Royal Botanic Gardens to the Department of Agriculture. The Depression also contributed to reduced budgets.

1960: From the 1960s to the 1970s there was a renewed interest in planting, with the emphasis on native species. Behind the Parklands Office and south of the Parade Grounds is a grove of magnificent Cluster Pines. These were planted as a school project on Arbor Day in 1967.

1999: The Tree Master Plan was developed. 


2000: In commemoration of Maiden's work, a row of 65 paperbarks called Maiden’s Row was planted along Alison Road.

2001: The replanting of Parkes Drive was a Centenary of Federation project dedicated to the many cultures that make up Australian society. Parkes Drive was originally planted with Canary Island date palms, and, more recently, Washingtonia or cotton palms. Both of these plant species succumbed to a destructive fungus. The replanting of Parkes Drive uses Kauri Pines, whose tall, strong trunks will create an elegant colonnade through the middle of the park.