Tag Archives: Islington Park

Throsby Creek – a history

The meandering watercourses of Throsby and Styx Creeks were originally mangrove lined, forming the beginning of the estuary leading into Newcastle Harbour. The clearing of the alluvial flats for cultivation resulted in erosion and siltation of the watercourses. These impacts were then exacerbated in the 1870s by the establishment of polluting industries along the banks. A slaughterhouse, a brewery and various other industries were established adjacent to Throsby Creek. Eventually, as a result, the creek became a ‘degraded, evil smelling drain’. 1

Despite its pollution in the early 1900s the creek was a prominent social and recreational area. Elaine Richards remembers during the depression that ‘Throsby Creek was a great place for boys wagging school to go swimming in the raw. Even at low tide they’d find a hole deep enough for a swim, the mud knee-deep and an abundance of old tin cans and cats that had ended up in a watery grave…The girls would walk primly past on their way to school, pretending not to see, except for one or two who would sneak a look’. 2

Source: provided courtesy of the University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

Source: provided courtesy of the University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

By 1910 the creek branched and re-joined itself where the TAFE oval and the dog park are to be found now (see the map, above). Major modifications to the creek were carried out during the 1930s depression. The banks of the creek below Maitland Road were cemented and the creek was converted into a storm water drain. During this time sharks often attacked horses and dogs swimming in the creek. In 1960 fishing in Throsby Creek was banned because of pollution. Despite this the Throsby Creek Regatta often held boat races in the water. 3

Source: provided courtesy of University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

Source: provided courtesy of University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

In 1979 Islington residents formed an action group called the Islington Residents Association. It was originally formed to oppose a petrol pipeline being built right through the middle of the residential suburb. This campaign failed but its 250 members subsequently began lobbying council to beautify Islington Park and improve Throsby Creek. 3

In 1989 the levels of heavy metals were still high and fishing continued to be banned. The Throsby Creek Regatta was re-established in 1990 as a public awareness campaign of the continuing poor water quality in Throsby Creek and again became an annual event. Rather than having the boat races in the creek, a dry land boat race was held call ‘Hardly on Throsby’. There were also carnival clowns, games, kite flying, gumboot throwing and environmental displays. 3

In 1989, after much lobbying from residents a Total Catchment Management Study was produced. This was the first such strategy in NSW and it provided a revolutionary turning point towards an integrated approach to future management of catchments all over NSW. Throsby Landcare was formed in 1990 as a sub-committee of the local residents group. It was one of the first urban Landcare groups in Australia. 9,13,14 Mangroves started to be planted along Throsby Creek from 1992.2,3,4

By 1993 the water quality in Throsby Creek had improved and it was announced that the annual ‘regatta will be getting wet for the first time’. The years of dedication and hard work were slowly starting to improve the condition of the creek. 3

Today the community continues to contribute time and hard work towards ensuring improvements in the quality of the water in Throsby Creek. Clean up Australia Day in Islington Park has removed large amounts of rubbish from the park and the creek and students at Islington Public School hold a number of ‘Binless’ days were no rubbish is allowed in lunchboxes.

Sources:

  1. Newcastle City Council (2000). Islington Park Strategic Plan and Plans of Management – Heritage Places Strategic Plan Part I.
  2. Elaine Richards ‘Images of Islington’ Newcastle Herald, July 17, 1982
  3. Green Conscience – the ongoing struggle for a clean, green Newcastle – a history (2002). Wesley Uniting Employment Newcastle West.
  4. Ron Cummings, ‘Days Gone By on Throsby Creek’ in Turning the Tide – the Throsby Creek campaign produced by Throsby Land Care and the Tighes Hill, Islington and Maryville Residents Action Group.

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Islington Park History

Lobbying to establish public open space in the new suburb of Islington led to the dedication of Islington Park in late 1878. Originally the official park area was very small, consisting only of a narrow sliver of land adjacent to Maitland Road surrounded by steep slopes that dropped precipitously down to the flat, muddy, flood-prone, alluvial plain of Throsby Creek  which had to be navigated before crossing over the footbridge to Tighes Hill (see the 1910 map below).1

Source: provided courtesy of University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

Source: provided courtesy of University of Newcastle Cultural Collection

The original landscape design of the park was by T.W. Hogue, the Clerk of Wickham Council, of which Islington was a part at the time. The planting of trees, including extensive Moreton Bay figs, was carried out by J. T. Croft just after the park was officially established. The photo below was taken in 1906, 27 years after the fig tree avenue was planted in Islington Park. Entrance gates were located opposite Bevan Street, flanked by a pair of cannons, one reputedly from the First Fleet, both of which have subsequently been lost.2

Source: Snowball Collection image no. 003642 provided courtesy of Newcastle Regional Library

Source: Snowball Collection image no. 003642 provided courtesy of Newcastle Regional Library

A bowling green was first established in Islington Park on the low ground currently occupied by the oval, flanked to the east and west by swampy ground which was subject to flooding at high tide. Alfred Sharp proposed a revised design for the park, which may have contributed to the realignment of Throsby Creek in the 1880s.

Source: Snowball Collection image no. 003642 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

Source: Snowball Collection image no. 003642 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

By 1906 the topography of the park had changed little. The photo above shows the fenced-off park on the steep embankment with two cows grazing on the alluvial common below. Apart from recreational use, Islington Park became a focus for public meetings and debate, especially for radical and trade union speakers. Thousands of Sunday afternoon speeches have been made to large crowds with banners, parasols and top hats. ‘No brawls ensued, but the speakers of those days were noted for the very forceful manner in which they endeavoured to belittle or defeat the opposition. Over ripe fruit-tomatoes were favourites – and old eggs were most effective missiles’.

During this time the park was also the meeting place for the West Wallsend branch of the Australian Socialist League and later the Socialist Labour Party. In 1931 the park was the site of the first International Woman’s Day rally in Newcastle (second in Australia) which was organised by the Unemployed Workers Movement with around 200 people attending. 3,4

During the 1930s depression, re-chanelisation work on the creek bank provided much needed labour for workers in the area. The banks of the creek below Maitland Road were cemented and the creek was converted into a storm water drain. A Tighes Hill resident remembers Islington Park as ‘mostly scrub’ before the First World War. In the two photos below we can see that by the end of World War II the park was well cleared.5

Source: Newcastle Herald image no. 010393 provided courtesy of the Newcastle Region Library

Source: Newcastle Herald image no. 010393 provided courtesy of the Newcastle Region Library

 

Source: Newcastle Herald image no. 001304 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

Source: Newcastle Herald image no. 001304 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

The bowling club in Islington Park was then moved to higher ground with much public controversy over the removal of some of the fig trees on Maitland Road, which by then had become the major landscape feature that they remain today (see photo below).2

Ron Morrison Collection image no. 001003 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

Ron Morrison Collection image no. 001003 provided courtesy of Newcastle Region Library

The playground at Islington Park remained very basic until recent redevelopment of the park. Collaboration between Newcastle City Council and the community re-imagined the park and it is now a highly popular recreational area for families from all over Newcastle.

IMAG0662

Sources:

  1. Dulcie Hartley, ‘Throsby Creek – a brief history’ in Turning the Tide – the Throsby Creek campaign’ produced by Throsby Land Care and the Tighes Hill, Islington and Maryville Residents Action Group
  2. Newcastle City Council (2000). Islington Park Strategic Plan and Plans of Management – Heritage Places Strategic Plan Part I.
  3. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, Friday 1 January 1937
  4. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate,   Saturday 15 June 1918
  5. Tighes Hill School 100 year anniversary

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A new playground for Islington Park

Islington playground construction

Work on the new Islington Park playground has begun. The existing equipment has been removed and construction is underway on the new area, which will include a climbing net, swings, spinning play items, water play feature, low climbing walls and a junior play structure with slides and rope play. Areas have also been prepared for a new children’s cycleway and two new picnic shelters.

Construction on the new playground is expected to be completed (depending on weather) by the end of August. For more information go to the City of Newcastle’s website.


Cleaning up Islington Park

 
Clean Up Australia Day 2011
 
Clean Up Australia Day is Australia’s biggest community participation event. In 2011 more than 565,510 volunteers across 7,400 sites collected an estimated 16,464 tonnes of rubbish across the country.
 
This year we’re cleaning up Islington Park again. Last year we had a committed band of 14 volunteers collect 28 bags of rubbish from the park and creek, if you’d like to help us out, meet us at the picnic shelter near the Islington Park playground on Sunday 4 March from 9.00 am.
 
Please wear covered shoes, long pants and a hat and bring gardening gloves if you have them. Bags will be provided. You can register beforehand at the Clean Up Australia Day website or just turn up on the day.
 
You can also check out photos from last year’s clean up and keep up to date with news and events on the Islington Village Facebook page.
 
Hope to see you there!

It’s on again!

Throsby Long Brunch 2010

The Throsby Big Brunch is on again this month in Islington Park!

 The Throsby Big Brunch is an Islington Park Placemaking initiative and the brainchild of Melanie McKinnon, an enthusiastic Tighes Hill resident. After a successful launch in 2010 the event promises to be even bigger in 2011 thanks to a successful application for funding from the Newcastle City Council Community Assistance Program and the fabulous support of local Throsby residents.

On Sunday 30 October from 10 am onwards residents of Carrington, Islington, Maryville, Tighes Hill and Wickham are invited to the table to share food, harvest and conversation under the fig trees in Islington Park. To find out more and reserve your free seat, go to www.throsbybigbrunch.org.


Hunter Water’s rehabilitation plans for Throsby Creek

Throsby Creek erosion near Graham Bridge

At the June Islington Village Community Group meeting Julia Irwin and her colleagues from Hunter Water were invited to provide a presentation on Hunter Water’s proposed works to rehabilitate eroded sections of Throsby Creek.

The proposed works, which are currently scheduled to commence by the end of 2011, will involve construction of rock structures behind existing mangroves to stabilise the creek banks on the Maryville side of the creek from the Hunter Valley Research Foundation site to the Union Street footbridge, and on the Tighes Hill side of the creek from Graham Bridge upstream to Tighes Terrace. A concrete ramp will also be contructed on the creek bank downstream of the footbridge (on the Islington Park side) to allow access for Hunter Water maintenance.

The Hunter Water team also discussed studies currently underway to inform future works on the creek, including investigating options for removal of sediment and rubbish from the creek.

Once the rehabilitation works have been officially approved and scheduled Hunter Water will begin communicating with residents in the streets surrounding Islington Park on any impacts they may experience while the construction works are underway. Further information will also be published via this website and through the Tighes Hill Community Group website.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to the proposed works please email them to Graeme Pauley, coordinator of the Tighes Hill Community Group, at: coordinator@tigheshill.org or Paul McBain, coordinator of the Islington Village Community Group, at: islingtonvillagecg@hotmail.com.


Plans underway for new playground

Playground working group meeting

The Islington Park playground working group met on 21 May to discuss options for a proposed upgrade.

Over $210,000 has been committed by the former NSW Labor Government and The City of Newcastle for an upgrade of the children’s playground in Islington Park, and a process of community consultation has been underway since September 2010 to ensure the needs of playground visitors are addressed through the upgrade.

On Saturday 21 May around 15 members of the Islington Park playground working group met to discuss preferred options for the upgrade. Susan Denholm from the City of Newcastle’s Place Making program and Amber from Council’s Landscape Architecture section met with the group to discuss a range of options and costs. 

Some of the priorities identified were new equipment for a range of ages and abilities, incorporation of climb-able sculptures and structures for kids young and old to enjoy, landscaping and/or fencing to provide a barrier between the playground and the footpath/cycleway, and shade and seating for parents.

The environmental values of Throsby Creek and the surrounding area will provide an overall theme for the playground, incorporating natural and recycled materials where possible; and the skills, expertise, and imagination of local residents will be drawn on throughout the process to ensure this addition to Islington Park reflects the character, diversity and creativity within the community.

If you’d like to be kept informed on progress of the playground upgrade please send an email to islingtonvillagecg@hotmail.com or subscribe to this blog.