Postcards from 100 years ago



Sydney Parks and open spaces

  • Centennial Park
    Centennial Park has a distinctive and special place in Australian history and culture. It was once a huge catchment of creeks, swamps, springs, sand dunes and ponds fed by ground water, and was traditionally home to the Gadi people.
  • Botanic Gardens and Palace Gardens
    The Sydney Domain was set aside by Governor Phillip as his private reserve and Arthur Phillip’s personal servant, Henry Edward Dodd, established a small grain farm at the site of the future Royal Botanic Gardens. The first grain was harvested in July 1788. However most of the crop failed due to being planted out of season, being eaten by rats and the poor soil. By January 1789, Dodd had moved to Parramatta.
  • Sydney Zoo

Hyde Park - Wynyard Park

Hyde Park was named after the original Hyde Park in London. The park is pock marked with drain lids, many of which lead down to Busby's Bore, the first large scale attempt at a water source system after the backing up of Tank Stream, the Sydney colony's primary water source. Busby's Bore was built between 1827 and 1837 using convict labour and supplied fresh water from Lachlan Swamps to the city. Lachlan Swamps later became known as Centennial Park. 

From the very early days of the colony, the open area to the south east of the settlement was a favourite place for sport and recreation. It was known variously as 'The Common', the 'Exercising Ground', the 'Cricket Ground' and the 'Race Course'. On October 13, 1810, Governor Macquarie separated the area from the Domain to the north, named it Hyde Park (after Hyde Park in London) and dedicated it for the "recreation and amusement of the inhabitants of the town and a field of exercises for the troops". He kept the Domain for his own exclusive use.

Many sports were played at Hyde Park including cricket, rugby, horse racing, quoits and hurling, however, sports people using Hyde Park had share it with both the military, who trained on it and practised drill work, the public, who cut paths across the playing fields, stray dogs, cattle, goats, sheep and other animals as well as other sports people whose interests sometimes conflicted. The quoit players in particular, used an area close to the cricket pitch and often damaged it.Hyde Park Now

Horse racing
Seven Arab horses taken on board the First Fleet at the Cape Colony (now South Africa) were the first horses to be brought to Australia. The first thoroughbred to be brought to Australia was Rockingham in 1799. By 1800 there were 200 horses in the colony which grew to 1100 by 1810. A race ground on the Hawkesbury River near Richmond was probably Australia's first racecourse being used as early as 1806. Match races were run there as part of a holiday at Parramatta in April 1810.

Only two days after Governor Macquarie dedicated Hyde Park for 'recreation and amusement' it became the site of Australia's first official horse race meeting organised on October 15, 17 and 19, 1810 by the officers of the 73rd Regiment (Macquarie's regiment). The meetings to devise the rules and organise the event were held in the officers' mess and many of the horses were owned by the officers.
Meetings continued to be held at Hyde Park up until the formation of the Sydney Turf Club in 1825 when they were moved to the 'Bellevue' course. Meetings were also run at Parramatta and Camperdown. The Australian Racing and Jockey Club was formed in 1828 with the encouragement of Governor Darling but the colony could not support two race clubs and both folded in 1831.

Although some research indicates that cricket was played before 1803 at the southern end of the Common near where the War Memorial is today, the first confirmed match took place on the Common in 1803. The players were the civilians and officers from the supply ship Calcutta. The cricket ground was laid out in the north-western section of the park (just behind the current entrance to St James Railway Station) and all major games were played there until 1856.

The first fully recorded match took place in Hyde Park between the 17th and 39th Regiments on May 7, 1832. However, by the 1850s running problems with other users of the Park, the public, the military and players of other sports, ultimately caused cricket matches to be moved to the Domain where unfortunately, similar problems were also encountered.

Organised bareknuckle fights were probably common in the early colony and officers of the NSW Corps were known to have arranged fights between convicts. The first recorded fight took place on the road to Botany about half a mile from the Racecourse in 1814. This would put it near the current location of the War Memorial. As if the boxing bout was not enough, the combatants, John Berringer (also known as John Parton) and Charles Sefton, were first required to run a mile. Both Berrenger and Sefton has been sentenced to death in Britain but had their sentences commuted to transportation to NSW. The fight lasted 56 rounds and was won by Berringer.

239 Hyde Park from St Mary's

On June 17, 1865 the first known rugby match to be played in Australia took place in Hyde Park between members of Australia's first rugby club, the Sydney Football Club, which had been established that month. In the July that year, the Sydney Club played the Australian Club in Hyde Park, in the first inter-club game.
In 1856, Hyde Park was turned into public gardens and sporting activity all but ceased. Cricket and football clubs had to find other places to play. Cricket was played at the Domain and both sports were also played at Moore Park and the Garrison Ground (now the Sydney Cricket Ground).

Hyde Park contains well-kept gardens and approximately 580 trees; a mixture of Moreton Bay Figs, Palms and other varieties. It is famed for its magnificent fig tree lined avenues, but in 2005 a number of disease-affected trees were discovered and felled.[1] Following investigations a significant proportion of the trees were found to be infected with three different fungi. Currently a Draft Tree Management Plan is being considered under which about 230 diseased trees will be removed and replaced.[2] Sandringham Gardens sit on the eastern side, close to the intersection of Park Street and College Street.

The centrepiece of Hyde Park is the majestic Archibald Fountain. The fountain was designed by François Sicard and donated by J.F. Archibald in 1932 in honour of Australia's contribution to the Great War in France. Also at the northern end are the Nagoya Gardens featuring a giant outdoor chess set and the entrance to the underground St. James railway station.

At the park's southern end is the ANZAC War Memorial behind the 'Lake of Reflections' or 'Pool of Remembrance' and the entrances to the Museum railway station. A monument consisting of a 104-millimetre gun from the German light cruiser SMS Emden stands at the south-eastern, Oxford Street entry of the park.

The western, or Elizabeth Street side, at the Bathurst Street entrance of the park sits beside the 125 foot Obelisk decorated with Egyptian features. It was erected in 1857 and unveiled by the then Mayor, George Thornton. But the monument is actually a sewer vent, and soon the joke around town was to call it 'Thornton's Scent Bottle'. Further south from here is another Middle Eastern inspired monument by the Independent Order of Oddfellows dedicated to the fallen Sydneysiders of the Great War.


Wynyard Park

The square was first used in 1792 as a military parade ground and subsequently became and remains an urban recreation ground, which it was formally dedicated as in 1887.

66 Wynyard Park

Edward Buckley Wynyard arrived at Sydney, from London, early in 1848

He was a member of the Legislative Council in 1848-51 and of the Executive Council in 1848-53, but unlike O'Connell he did not insist on being addressed as 'Your Excellency'. He appreciated the climate in Australia, although he thought that conditions there were demoralizing for the troops and encouraged desertion. In constant struggles with the British and colonial governments over military costs he refused to countenance resignations from the army by men who were being urged to become settlers. His general policy was to retain the older men on garrison duties in the colonial capitals and to send less experienced soldiers to New Zealand, where they were more likely to see active service than in Australia. His steady opposition to every proposal for the reduction of troops under his command was justified in 1851 when gold was discovered and each colony began to clamour for protection.

66 Wynyard Now

In 1851 Wynyard became lieutenant-general and two years later left Sydney and returned to London.

In January 1860 he was promoted general. He died of bronchitis in London on 24 November 1864. His name is remembered in Wynyard Square, Sydney, and probably in the town Wynyard in northern Tasmania which he visited in 1850-51.

The Mad Dentist of Wynyard Square

The 1865 case of the 'Mad Dentist of Wynyard Square' has all the ingredients of a modern soap opera. There was the villain, the eccentric young dentist Henry Louis Bertrand, and his wife, sweet innocent Jane. Enter the adulteress Ellen, married to alcoholic banker Henry Kinder. Bertrand became infatuated with Ellen and they started a passionate affair. Brazenly, the adulterous couple often met at their respective homes. Henry Kinder was either too drunk to notice or care and Jane Bertrand too frightened of her husband's moods to say anything. More scandalous was that Frank Jackson, a Ellen's former lover also lived in the Kinder marital home

But this 'menage à cinq' could not survive. Bertrand, obsessed with Ellen, decided to murder her husband. He dressed 'incognito' as a woman, to purchase the gun. After several botched attempts, he managed to shoot Kinder, but the bullet did not kill him. Bertrand dressed the wound and sent for a doctor explaining to the medic that Kinder was seriously depressed and had tried to kill himself.

But this near escape was not enough to stop Bertrand. Desperate to get rid of his competition, he mixed the poison 'belladonna' with milk and had his lover administer it. Finally Kinder was dead. Bizarrely, the coroner found the death was by suicide. Immediately Ellen moved in with the Bertrands, sharing a bed with the couple on the first night, a fact that shocked Sydneysiders when reported during the eventual trial.

The drama didn't stop there. Bertrand had paid and warned Frank Jackson, former lover of Ellen, to leave Sydney shortly before the poisoning. On hearing of Henry Kinder's supposed 'suicide', Jackson attempted to blackmail Bertrand. But in a most audacious act, Bertrand went to the police and had Jackson arrested. He was subsequently given a year's imprisonment for blackmail.

Eventually the police reopened the case and charged Bertrand, his wife and Ellen Kinder. The trial was a sensation, causing a massive furore. Poor sweet Jane was exonerated, and found to be the victim of mesmerism and mind control. Ellen was discharged for lack of evidence and Bertrand, labelled by press at the time as 'the Mad Dentist of Wynyard Square', served 28 years imprisonment.

Until the early 1900s, Henry Louis Bertrand was seen as the epitome of unmitigated evil, and for many years rumours persisted that he had used mesmeric techniques to seduce his upper crust female clientele




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