Beside Inner West Sydney's busy Stanmore road sits Maundrell Park. At first glance, it looks like any neighbourhood park with its tables, children's play area and concrete paths. But if you wander a little, you soon realise that there is more to discover in this space than a first glance can convey. I set off to explore one afternoon as the sun gradually lowered in the sky.
At the main entrance, I passed through the pergola and steps took me down to yet another. Something of a theme in parts of the Inner West, these structures are used to separate outdoor areas. Pergolas tend to draw your vision - and thereby you - into a space.
The two stately examples found at Maundrell Park are listed as heritage features by the NSW Environment and Heritage Department.
The twisted forms of aged trees formed a more natural shelter over my explorations, and made it clear that this space was established some time ago. An old oak grows in the heart of the park and young brown pines provide the promise of shade in years to come.
Before Maundrell Park fell within the Marrickville Council area, it was the Petersham Municipal Council nursery. The stone features you now find there are the remnants of former seed beds. An informative plaque at the site revealed that there had even been hot houses and fish ponds there at one time.
But in its new form, with a good view of the rest of the park and a comfortable wooden bench, it provides a place for shaded rest and contemplation.
Walking through the middle of the park, an avenue of lofty Canary Island Date Palms rose above me. They were a majestic, but at once almost incongruous addition here - so different from the corner garden of wispy grasses, and the shade-giving trees elsewhere in the park.
I then noticed the low boundary wall, made up of uneven blocks of stone set into the earth. Along this wall I came upon an interesting marker stone that labelled this place South Kingston Park - the original name given to this quiet spot.
In the 1700's a farm by the name of Kingston Farm was established nearby, and leant its name to surrounding areas where parts of Stanmore and Newtown sit today. This name, however, has since faded from use.
Only later was it named after local politician Walter L. Maundrell - alderman for 22 years and a patron of the local Petersham Cricket Club. He also served as Mayor of Petersham an impressive three times during the 1920's and 30's.
Maundrell Park was a delightful discovery. This place is a surprising blend of layered history with a landscape of charmingly disjointed elements that, in spite of itself, succeeds in having a grand, yet approachable feel.
Next time you want somewhere new to meander, perhaps take a walk though Maundrell Park.