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Redfern Park
Redfern Park with Redfern Oval in the background (October 2014).jpg
Redfern Park, pictured in 2014
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Type Urban park
Location Elizabeth, Redfern, Chalmers, and Phillip Streets, Redfern, City of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Created 10 November 1885 (1885-11-10)
Operated by City of Sydney
Open 24 hours
Status Open all year
Official name: Redfern Park and Oval
Type: State heritage (complex / group)
Designated: 21 September 2018
Reference #: 2016
Type: Place of significance
Category: Aboriginal

Redfern Park is a heritage-listed park at Elizabeth, Redfern, Chalmers, and Phillip Streets, Redfern, City of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Charles O'Neill. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 21 September 2018.

Construction of Redfern Park

Redfern Park remained swamp land while residential and industrial Redfern was built up around it, and it became known as Boxley's Lagoon and seen as a nuisance and a waste land. In 1885 South Sydney Council resumed five hectares (twelve acres) of the swamp for the park construction. Redfern Park was gazetted for the purpose of public recreation on 10 November 1885 and named as "Redfern Park" on 20 November 1885. South Sydney Council was appointed Trustee of the park under the Public Parks Act on 10 December 1885. Council prepared by-laws for the park in 1887 and installed a caretaker in 1888.< The park was styled as late Victorian Pleasure Gardens with Botanical Plantings and Landscape Design.

Around 1886 planting began using tree saplings supplied by the Royal Botanic Gardens including Moreton Bay figs, deciduous figs, and Canary Island palms. The plantings used in the park reflect the preferences or botanical palate of the successive directors of the Botanic Gardens with Charles Moore (director 1848-1896) favouring Port Jackson and Moreton Bay figs and Joseph T. Maiden (director 1896-1924) deciduous figs and Canary Island pines.

The park's layout was designed by the civil engineer Charles O'Neill in 1888. This design split the park into a southern section for sporting activities and a northern half comprising a formal landscaped garden for passive recreation which included extensive specimen plantings, lawns, flower gardens, seating, shaded walkways across the park and around the perimeter, decorative gates, and the Baptist fountain in the centre. A raised bandstand was located in the centre of the entire park.

Prominent local resident John Baptist Jr., of Portuguese background, donated the fountain and several urns for installation in the new landscaped park in 1889-1890. Baptist's father, John Baptist (Sr.) arrived in Sydney as a free man in 1829. He opened a nursery in Redfern to the east of what became Redfern Park (in what is now the Marriot Street Reserve area). The nursery originally focussed on vegetables but later expanded to include ornamental plants. In time, his nursery grew to comprise most of East Redfern. The Baptist fountain is extant (and has recently been restored) while the urns were removed in 1965. The cast iron fountain, which features a bronze finish, was manufactured in Coalbrookdale, England and imported to Australia as a kit which was then constructed on site. A number of these fountains were imported at this time. Today only a few survive: there is one at Forbes, NSW; one in the botanical gardens in Adelaide, SA; and another partial or incomplete one in the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne, Victoria. These remaining examples are slightly different designs, with the Redfern example with its "boy and serpent" motif being individual.

While the park was under construction, the citizens of Redfern put together a subscription to erect sandstone gates at the northern entrance. This demonstrates the nature of the local civic pride that had led to the construction of the park. In 1891 the Redfern Street gates, which comprised two white painted sandstone piers supporting decorative wrought iron gates featuring a prominent Waratah motif, were installed.

Redfern Park was officially opened in 1890. By the time it was finished it was a typical Victorian "pleasure ground" incorporating ornamental gardens, exotic plantings, cricket wickets and oval, bowling green, bandstand, and sporting pavilions. As such, from the beginning this park incorporated a mixture of pleasure and sporting facilities.

Redfern Park and Oval is a central meeting place for the Aboriginal community of Redfern and beyond as a place not only for activism and sporting events but a place for socialising and family connection.

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