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Sydney Park at 21

Sydney's largest park was the former site of a trash dump. Remnants of 19th century brick works (kilns and industrial chimneys) give the park historical context. A large children's playground opened in 2008.

Foreigners who stroll the green landscapes of Sydney Park, Australia today have no idea that the site used to be a municipal dump.

The land, like so much of the immediate New South Wales coastal region, has a history involving transported convicts from England. The land the park now resides on was originally granted to a convict woman and was used to raise crops. It became an industrial brick works during the 19th century.

When the brickworks closed, the numerous clay pits were filled with municipal waste (1948 to 1976). The site was known as "St. Peter's tip."

Landscape architect Laurie Johnson told the Sydney Morning Herald that when people started talking about making the site a park back in the '80s, the New South Wales government thought it important to preserve some of the site's history.

And that is what has transpired. The park is unmistakable with its silhouettes of the old industrial chimneys, and the kiln area. The former 65-ft. deep brick pits were transformed into three tall grassy hills that provide great views of the city skyline.

At 109 acres, the park is the largest in Sydney and is connected by about 7.5 miles of pathways. A large, level green area, the Alan Davidson Oval, is used for cricket and Australian Rules football games. A large children's playground opened in 2008. Wetlands and water run from the park center to the southeastern corner.

Most of the vegetation on site was planted by community efforts in the early '90s. The park has gardens and 28,000 native trees that include 277 Port Jackson and Moreton Bay fig trees. Fifty types of mammals, native birds, frogs and reptiles make the park home.

The park is important green space for the city, as Sydney has the highest density of any city in Australia.

Sydney celebrated the park's 21st birthday on Feb. 11, 2012 with free coffee and cupcakes on the village green.

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November 13, 2019, 7:38 pm PDT

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