Australia's First Governor General meets Mary Poppins
The Ashfield park is located along Paramatta road at Ashfield and is the largest Victorian period park in the Ashfield and Haberfield areas.The park has layers of history and has been - and still is - home to some interesting historical features.
The Commonwealth Pavilion
In 1903 the 'Commonwealth Pavilion' was re-erected in Ashfield Park. The Commonwealth Pavilion was an important historical structure that had been built at Farm Cove - the bay between the Sydney Opera House and Mrs Macquarie's Chair.
The Pavilion was used for the reception of Australia's first Governor General, Lord Hopetoun when he came ashore in Sydney in 1900. The Sydney Mail December 22nd, 1900 issue described the structure in resplendent detail as ''...a magnificent octagonal pavilion specially built for the purpose of the reception.''
It goes on to say that it was ''....buttressed on either side with huge scroll trusses painted in silver and gold and tastefully heaped with vernal favours. The top of the pavilion was a cupola, and surmounting it's palm-thatched exterior his Excellency saw a replica in size of the Imperial Crown and recognised at once the symbol of a Federation under the Crown''.
Unfortunately after removal of the pavilion to Ashfield Park, it was allowed to fall into decay, and with concerns for the integrity of the structure it was finally demolished in the 1940's. Through this decision, Ashfield's tangible link to the arrival of Australia's first Governor General was removed.
The War Memorial
The memorial at the centre of the park is dedicated to those who gave their lives during the Boer War, both World Wars, and in Vietnam. There is also a plaque to commemorate the sacrifices of men and women in Malaya, Korea, Malaysia, Borneo and South Vietnam as well as during United Nations and Peacekeeping operations.
P.L Travers, the author of children's story 'Mary Poppins', was born in Queensland. However, she lived for a time on Pembroke Street - which is one of the streets that runs along the edge of Ashfield Park. To mark this fact there is a lovely statue in the centre of the children's playground of P. L Traver's celebrated character.
The statue was inspired by the original illustrations for the book as done by English illustrator Mary Shepard. It is fascinating to note that Mary Shepard was the daughter of illustrator E. H Shepard who illustrated two other well-known children's classics: 'The Wind in the Willows' and 'Winnie the Poo'.
Beside the pathway there is a monument to Jose Rizal. A highly educated and accomplished man, Dr Jose Rizal was a celebrated journalist, activist and poet. He wrote about Spain's colonial rule in his home country of the Philippines while he lived in Europe. He was exiled upon his return and was later executed after being accused and unfairly tried for sedition. He is considered an icon because of his steps towards his countries independence.
I had never heard of Mother Language Day till I found this monument. As it's name suggests, the day encourages celebration of your 'mother tongue' and promotes multiculturalism and cultural diversity. The day also remembers the events of 1952 in which students were killed in Dhaka while demonstrating for recognition of their mother-tongue - Bangla.
Aside from it's fascinating monuments, the park is used as a popular relaxation spot these days. There are shady palms, wide open spaces perfect for exercising and the park is located handily close to residential areas on three sides.
Ashfield Park is also home to the Ashfield Bowling club which has been a popular bowling site in the area for decades. Nowadays, the club is frequented for barefoot bowls and also hired out for functions.