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Centennial Park's history

The traditional home of the Gadi people and originally a catchment of creeks, swamps, springs, sand dunes and ponds fed by ground water, Centennial Park was later the site of the signing of the Federation of Australia.

In 1811, Governor Lachlan Macquarie designated the area that we now know as Centennial Park 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 kilometre underground aqueduct, known as Busbys Bore, from the swamps to Hyde Park. This bore supplied rapidly expanding, colonial 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 New South Wales. 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 and ‘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. New Zealand was also one of the colonies involved in the Federation ceremony but decided to retain its independence and was not a signatory to Federation.

More than a century later, Centennial Park retain its status as a people’s park – it's a spectacular recreational space for adults and children of all ages and is one of the few inner city parks in the world to offer horse riding facilities. 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.