So what of Queens Park? Before my gushing treacle pudding of subjectivity and sugar sprinkled tinted memories….
For those unfamiliar with the history of this splendid urban oasis, the park itself was laid out as a private subscription based affair around 1824ish. I know from my own research into local history that the area south-west of the park was a little bit slummy, and I’m wondering if the intention was to keep the unwashed out for their own good, lest some tiny indiscretion bring a great statute of the bloody code upon them, and hasten them on to the next Sydney bound ship. That said, apparently a subsequent owner, Thomas Attree, was by all accounts a benevolent chap, so it would be nice to think that some poorer folk were able to find some sort of tranquil respite from their pitiful lot.
Eventually, in the early 1890s, its status changed. Apparently they couldn’t auction the park and it was eventually bought by the Race Stand Trustees and handed over to public ownership, and since it has gloriously remained.
Pictures of Queens Park throughout history abound online, for I am not its only groupie. The park is instantly identifiable from many a photographic angle throughout history. There were noticeably more trees at one stage, and the lake was oft frozen over in winter so as to allow skating.
In the modern age the park itself does not boast any major attraction that might single it out as a special place, above others, to the eyes of the unfamiliar. Yet It is blessed with wide open spaces that attract folk of many ages during the warmer months, an old lake that volunteers do their best to arrest the duckweed from at regular intervals, a lovely old rockery and a general air of seclusion in very built up area. As unspectacular as I am able describe it, it means a lot to many folk, and I am feeling equally as well disposed towards it with my lengthy history of association.
There are things in a person’s life, which bring security and comfort, little constants because they are ever present. The downside of such securities, particularly human ones, is that if they disappear they are often irreplaceable. But there is a place that will be forever there, and seems to transcend all other human securities. That place is our Queens Park.
From a very young age, so early that I cannot remember, the park has been an important part of my life-just by being there. Its history resonates within. My family have lived in the area and had an association since its public beginnings. My brother and myself played there regularly, my Dad and his brother before us, my Granddad too. The most satisfying piece of knowledge to add to that is my Great-Grandfather who was one of the two park keepers when the grand public opening took place in 1891 or 2.
I still live nearby, and if I feel like I need some air, am perhaps a bit low, or just want to see its inviting greenery for inspiration, I make haste. In this concrete jungle that we live in, it can be so easy to get caught up in the mundane process of life and forget that there are little releases that help us understand the wider beauty of nature.
To me Queens Park, despite the litter that gets thrown in the lake, despite the need to constantly be aware of doggy doo-dah, and despite some of the heart breaking trashing of the efforts of its committed group of friends, is a place of great beauty that lends itself to my desire for clear headed thought and the knowledge that some things, despite life’s up and downs, will always be close by.
So thank you to those of you who respect it, thank you to those of you who volunteer to care for it, and for those of you who have never been try and spend some time there. If you can’t then explore your nearest urban green space. You’ll be surprised at the sense of well being such places can give to mind full of the daily grind.