COOK Park is just steps away from being listed as one of the state’s most significant landmarks, which has Orange’s heritage experts excited.
While it is already listed under the Local Environmental Plan, Orange City Council has applied for the park to be included on the State Heritage Register.
Orange and District Historical Society members Euan Greer and Ross Maroney welcomed the news.
“It’s exciting,” Mr Maroney said.
“It’s one of the treasures of Orange.”
Mr Greer said the park embodied the history of Orange “in a nutshell”, first as an Aboriginal camping ground, then as a camping ground for bullock teams under the name Cattle Dray Park.
“They came to Orange to deliver all sorts of rural produce from outlying areas to the west,” he said.
It later became a recreation area and was listed for housing until 1854 when it was withdrawn from public auction, but it was not proclaimed until 1873.
“When the railway was opened in 1887, all the town’s kids were treated to a party at the recreation ground with plates of cakes and `all other toothsome niceties’, that was the language of the day,” Mr Greer said.
Mr Maroney believed the site’s swampy condition kept it free from development.
“It was probably just too boggy,” he said.
The council’s submission to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage said the park met the criteria because it was an intact Victorian-style park and it featured several Depression-era projects including the Blowes Conservatory, the rose-covered Frank Mulholland Memorial Garden, the fernery and the aviary.
The submission also said the remaining trees sent from the Sydney Botanic Gardens in 1870 included rare and endangered species, especially the redwood conifers.
Mr Greer said the park had enduring ties to Orange’s older families, including the Daltons through the central fountain and the rotunda, the Blowes family through the conservatory and the Basticks, who lived at the guildry cottage and were park caretakers for 90 years.
Councillor Reg Kidd said the listing had been years in the making.
“The council is working on the details to get the balance right between appropriate protection for historical features of the park and the freedom to look after routine maintenance,” he said.
Submissions close on Tuesday, July 11 and can be posted to the Heritage Council of NSW, Locked Bag 5020, Parramatta NSW 2124 or email@example.com.
Do you have fond pictures of Cook Park? New or old, we want them all! Send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org