Freelance journalist writing about nature, different people & places - currently rediscovering travel through my children's eyes.
Published September 3rd 2010
Hallstrom Park in Willoughby is fondly known as 'scooter park' by many kids due to its bike and scooter track which includes mini road signs and a bridge. It also holds surprises such as carved sandstone zoo animals, which make sense-activated noises - and Henry Lawson's cave, where the poet and writer used to escape from society.
The park's adventure playground is nestled under a canopy of native trees. The equipment seems to meld with the environment, with slippery dips forming part of the rockbed, curving through plant life. It also has swings, a sandpit and an old-fashioned water pump. There is also an interactive musical instrument made up of metal pipes which you can bang to make different noises. The stone zoo animals, including an elephant and a gorilla, are a novel idea - but they tend to scare the life out of people, the first time they unsuspectingly wander past.
A key drawcard of the park is the large expanses of green grass, along with its gazebo for shade which is also a handy rainy-day kids' party venue - as long as you get there first. There are also BBQs, picnic tables and public toilets.
If you would like to wander further afield, take the bike/pedestrian park gently downhill through bushland to Flat Rock Gully. At the bottom is Henry Lawson's Cave where the poet and writer used to live as an escape from society. He lived in Naremburn for short periods from 1907 to just after World War One. Lawson would occasionally visit Crows Nest Hotel, exchange some spontaneous verse for a drink, then stay in the cave. The site is marked by a stone sculpture of Lawson's profile by Chris Bennett. Poetry readings are occasionally held there.
Another feature that can be seen next to the path, is a mural by artist, Shane Haurama. It is made up of three sections, referring to the past, present and future relationship with the indigenous people and landscape of Flat Rock Gully.
Hallstrom Park is five minutes walk from the bus stop in Willoughby Road, for buses coming to or from the city. There is on-street parking, next to the playground in Small St and
off-street parking next to the Willoughby Leisure Centre which is also off Small Street.