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Origins of names

The origins of the place names in Sydney's Centennial Parklands offer interesting insight into the history and charm of many of our favourite BBQ spots, formal gardens and sports fields.

Parks

  • Centennial Park and Queens Park were respectively named with the signing of the Centennial Celebrations Act 1887.
  • Moore Park was named after the Mayor of Sydney, Charles Moore, who set aside 378 acres of the Common for recreational use by the people of Sydney in in 1866.

Drives, avenues & gates

  • Cannon Triangle was named when two Russian cannons that were souvenired after the Battle of Sevastopol in the Crimean War were installed in Centennial Park during the 1920s.
  • Many of Centennial Park's internal roadways were named after colonial Governors who were involved with the official ceremonies during Federation in 1901, such as:
  • Lord Charles Carrington
  • Sir Anthony Musgrave, Governor of Queensland
  • Sir William Robinson, Governor of South Australia
  • Sir Robert Hamilton, Governor of Tasmania
  • Sir Henry Loch, Governor of Victoria
  • Sir Frederick Broome, Governor of West Australia
  • Lieutenant General Sir William Jervois, Governor of New Zealand.​

Most prominently involved in the formalities and plantings was Sir Henry Parkes, the politician probably most widely associated with Centennial Park.

  • The naming of Centennial Park's Grand Drive reflects the British Picturesque tradition of including sweeping equestrian or carriage drives and pedestrian walks in the gardens and parks surrounding stately homes.
  • Driver Avenue in Moore Park is named after Richard Driver, a former minister for lands, Sydney City Council solicitor and keen cricketer. As minister, Driver spent £700 on improving the Military and Civil Ground, as the SCG was formally known, and in 1876 he became one of the first trustees of the Ground, representing the New South Wales Cricket Association.

Waterways and ponds

  • Kippax Lake (originally known as Nanny Goat Swamp) was named after William Kippax a Sydney City Council Alderman from 1863 to 1889
  • In the 1880s the sailing of model yachts became very popular and the naming of Model Yacht Pond reflected this activity
  • Busbys Pond was named after John Busby, who was the engineer responsible for driving a tunnel to carry water from the swamplands to Hyde Park, supplying Sydney with water for over 20 years. The naming Busbys Promontory and Busbys Bore further honour John Busby’s achievement
  • Duck Pond is named after its association with the ducks and other waterfowl that use the pond for their habitat
  • Fly Casting Pond takes its name from fly casting competitions which were first held at the Pond in the early 1900s
  • Musgrave Pond is named in honour of Sir Anthony Musgrave, former Governor of Queensland
  • One More Shot Pond features a concrete plinth which once supported a marble statue of a hunter. The statue was entitled 'One More Shot' and was added to the Park in the 1890s, but removed in 1970 due to damage
  • Kensington Pond and Randwick Pond are named after the respective adjacent suburbs of Kensington and Randwick
  • Lily Pond is named for the masses of lilies, which are synonymous with the pond
  • Lachlan Swamp and Lachlan Reserve were named in honour of Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales between 1810 and 1821.

Fields, valleys, grounds and other geological features

  • ES Marks Athletics Field was named after Ernest Samuel Marks, a former Lord Mayor of Sydney and another politician and sportsman to leave his mark in the Parklands. From 1888–1890 Marks won over 40 trophies as an athlete
  • Brazilian Fields' name recognises a long-running tradition that continues to this day. For over 35 years the Brazilian Soccer Club has played soccer, their greatest passion, in Centennial Parklands. During this time staff at the Parklands referred to the fields as the ‘Brazilian fields’ and eventually the colloquial term caught on
  • Federation Valley is so named after the Federation of Australia ceremony that was held on that spot in 1901. The area was originally known as Snake Gully
  • McKay Fields and McKay Sports Grounds were named after Robert McKay - one of two old boys from Sydney Boys High School instrumental in building a relationship between the school and Centennial Park
  • Mt Steel was named after Alexander Steel, Sydney Alderman from the 1870s.

Pavilions

  • Fairland Pavilion was named after Charles Fairland. Fairland was a friend of McKay’s and a fellow old boy of Sydney Boys High School also involved with the Park. His relationship with the Park resulted in the School funding a sports pavilion, which opened in 1933
  • Vernon Pavilion (also formerly known as Shelter Pavilion). Walter Vernon was the government architect vested with the duty of designing the Pavilion, which was completed in 1898. A year later the Martins Road Ranger’s Residence, also designed by Vernon, was finished, which to this day is used as ranger accommodation
  • Federation Pavilion was ceremoniously opened on 1 January 1988 in the presence of 20,000 people, including the then Prime Minister Robert Hawke and New South Wales Premier, Barry Unsworth. The Pavilion stands on the site of the original temporary Federation Pavilion, which was built for the proclamation of the Federal Constitution on 1 January 1901.

Paddocks and rows

  • Ash Paddock was an area that was used as a dumping ground for ash generated from a coal-fuelled water pumping station which once operated in the Parklands in the mid 1800s. Water was pumped from low-lying ponds at the southern end of the Park up to Busbys Pond
  • Maidens Row was named after Joseph Maiden, the second officer entrusted with managing Centennial Park from 1896 to 1924. In the year 2000, horticultural staff at Centennial Parklands planted 74 Broad Leaf Paperbarks in a pattern replicating Maiden’s earlier plantings near Duck Pond. This row of trees was named in celebration of Maiden’s influence on the Park and introducing the native Paperbarks species.

Still a mystery…

Many of the place names within the Parklands obviously reflect its natural features, such as Paperbark Grove, Sandstone Ridge, and Pine Grove.

However a few names still remain a mystery. The Parklands cannot say with certainty where the names Frog Hollow and Church Grounds come from.

If you have any information on the names of these places or others within the Parklands we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us via email.

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