Kellys Bush Park | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Kellys Bush Park

Item details

Name of item: Kellys Bush Park
Other name/s: Weil Park, The Smelting Company
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Parks, Gardens and Trees
Category: Reserve
Location: Lat: -33.8422234141 Long: 151.1673492020
Primary address: Nelson Parade, Hunters Hill, NSW 2110
Parish: Hunters Hill
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Hunters Hill
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP549711
LOT2 DP549711
LOT3 DP549711
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Nelson ParadeHunters HillHunters HillHunters HillCumberlandPrimary Address
Alfred StreetHunters HillHunters HillHunters HillCumberlandAlternate Address
Woolwich MarinaHunters HillHunters HillHunters HillCumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Department of Planning and InfrastructureState Government 

Statement of significance:

Kelly's Bush Park has high local significance as a remnant of natural bushland located on the foreshores of the Parramatta River in Hunters Hill. The site has State significance as the site of the first "Green Bans" of the 1970s when a group of local residents enlisted the assistance of unions to oppose development of the site.
Date significance updated: 26 Mar 99
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: N/A
Builder/Maker: N/A
Physical description: Kelly's Bush covers 4.8 hectares of bushland on the lower reaches of the Parramatta River in the Sydney Metroplitan Area. It is part of a network of near natural open spaces on the Sydney Harbour waterway system and is the only substantial area of natural bush on the lower Parramatta River. Kelly's Bush is the largest area of near natural bush on the Hunter's Hill peninsula. It is linked directly to Weil Park to the north, Nelson Parade and residential areas to the west, the Parramatta River to the south and residential areas and Woolwich Marina to the east. Kelly's Bush lies on the southerly aspect of the major ridge line of the Hunter's Hill Peninsula, which runs in an east-west direction. There are five major vegetation communities found in Kelly's Bush: eucalyptus (dominant), heath/closed shrub, closed rainforest, banksia/low closed forest and closed scrub/weed areas.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Intact in its 1983 conserved form.
Date condition updated:12 Jan 99
Modifications and dates: 1892: established Smelting Company on two acres, with adjoining seventeen acres of bush to the north designed as buffer to the residential areas and zoned "open space". The Company allowed public access to the foreshore for recreation, through all areas except the actual works area. The condition of the bush fluctuated, depending on the amount of timber being used to fire the smelters.

1956: Almost 7 acres of "open space" became known as Weil Park when purchased by Hunter's Hill Council and Cumberland County Council. Bush cleared and a grassed oval created for sporting activities.

1967 the Smelting Company works moved to Alexandria and sold to A.V.Jennings - series of DAs - didn't progress.

SPA then arranged to buy from Jennings 5.6 acres of sloping waterfront bush and abandoned industrial reserve for a "foreshore reserve".

1971 Minister for Local Government rezoned the land from Reserved Open Space to Residential.

1977 Premier banned development on the site. The discovery of radioactive waste on the site raised serious doubts as to its suitability for residential development.

1983 Premier Wran announced that site to be set aside for full public access on a permanent basis.

1983-1999: Some improvements have been made, including a carpark, paths, foreshore park, and a viewing platform.
Further information: Long term management of the site might be more effective if the site were to be included in the linked group of harbour foreshore reserves currently managed by NPWS. Weed control is not being effectively managed under present management and the long term survival of the reserve is dependent on effective controls. Handover to NPWS, or another appropriate management body, should be considered in any long term management plans.
Current use: Foreshore Reserve, bush park, passive recreation
Former use: Bushland, Smelting Works

History

Historical notes: At the time of European contact the Kelly's bush area was inhabited by the Wal Umedegal Clan who spoke the Guringai language. They lived primarly on fish and shellfish, supplmenting their diet when necessary with vegetables, marsupials, birds and grubs. They were also frequently observed firing the scrub both to facilitate access to the foreshore and to flush out game. Very little is known of their social structure and religious beliefs.

Hunters Hill:
At the time of European contact the Kelly's bush area was inhabited by the Wal Umedegal Clan who spoke the Guringai language. They lived primarly on fish and shellfish, supplmenting their diet when necessary with vegetables, marsupials, birds and grubs. They were also frequently observed firing the scrub both to facilitate access to the foreshore and to flush out game. Very little is known of their social structure and religious beliefs (Pitt, 2011).

Captain John Hunter (1737-1821) of the Sirius, charted Sydney harbour in 1788. On 28 January 1788 he wrote in his journal: 'A few days after my arrival with the transports in Port Jackson, I set off with a six-oared boat and a small boat, intending to make as good a survey of the harbour as circumstances would admit: I took to my assistance Mr Bradley, the first lieutenant, Mr Keltie, the master, and a young gentleman of the quarter-deck (midshipman Henry Waterhouse).' Hunter's meticulous chart shows 30 depth soundings around the peninsula bounded by the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers. Hunter was Governor of the Colony from 1795-1800. He is commemorated in the name of Hunters Hill (Sherry/Hunters Hill Historical Society, 2011, 15).

In 1855 a speculative housing venture of erecting four prefabricated Swiss Cottages at Hunters Hill was underway. In this period Hunters Hill was an established French enclave, with the residence of the French consul located there at "Passy", and much of its early development was constructed by men of French descent. The prefabricated houses were advertised as "four splendid family residences, standing in their own grounds, of about 1 acres each", with "wood and water in abundance" ( Sherry 1989, 48).

Beverley Sherry in her study of Hunter Hill notes that this was the first planned group of houses to be built in the municipality, marking the beginning of the garden suburb character of Australia's oldest Garden Suburb The subdivision and garden suburb development occurred in the mid to late nineteenth century, predating the formation of the Garden Suburb movement. The historic development at Hunters Hill was consistently speculative, although some of the subdivisions were undertaken to provide residences for family members (Mattingley, 2007).

Kelly's Bush:
Kelly's Bush derives its name from Mr Thomas H. Kelly who owned over 19 acres of land on the foreshore of Hunter's Hill (stretching from Woolwich Road south to the Parramatta River). This area was bounded by the Parramatta River, Woolwich Road, Nelson Parade and Alfred Street. He established the Smelting Company on two acres of waterfront land in 1892, with the adjoining seventeen acres of bush to the north designed to act as a buffer to the residential areas and zoned "open space". The Smelting Company allowed public access to the foreshore for recreation, through all areas except the actual works area. The condition of the surrounding bush fluctuated, depending on the amount of timber being used to fire the smelters.

Almost 7 acres of the "open space" became known as Weil Park when it was purchased in 1956 by Hunter's Hill Council and the Cumberland County Council. The bush was cleared and a grassed oval created for sporting activities. In 1966 the Town Clerk wrote to the State Planning Authority stating: "There is insufficient area in the land held and known as Weil Park and Council feels that it is important to the interest of posterity that additional "open space" area should be acquired whilst the opportunity exists".

In 1967 the Smelting Company works moved to Alexandria and AV Jennings took a two year option to purchase the 12 acre site. They applied to Council seeking suspension of the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme Ordinance to enable the development of 147 home units, including three buildings of 8 storeys high. Council was opposed to the application and renewed its bid for State acquisition of the entire area as open space, however the State Planning Authority rejected the proposal. Jennings subsequently submitted a series of modified applications. The Hunters Hill Trust strongly condemned the Jennings development.

The SPA then arranged to buy from Jennings 5.6 acres of sloping waterfront bush and abandoned industrial reserve for a "foreshore reserve". In 1969 the Council agreed in principle to a suspension of the existing zoning to permit the development of 56 townhouses (without any public consultation). This was subsequently reduced to 25 single dwelling allotments.

In an article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 25/7/1970 local Hunters Hill resident Betty James wrote how local children had pulled up a long line of survey pegs laid out through "their bush" as a heartfelt protest. Her article read like a love-letter to Kelly's Bush, describing its deep gullies of bracken fern, its blueberry ash, lily-pilly, tea tree and a rare stand of healthy banksias. James...also talked about it as an outdoor laboratory and living museum: there were Aboriginal middens and carvings in the sandstone. In September 1970, James and 12 other neighbours gathered at All Saints parish hall and christened themselves the 'Battlers for Kelly's Bush'. The group, which the Hunters Hill Council would dismiss as "13 bloody housewives", elected James as President, Kath Lehany as secretary and Monica Sheehan as assistant secretary. Most of the women were lifelong Liberal Party voters who had never been involved in politics but each had a different reason for joining...Miriam Cunningham...had realised when she had been to Australia Square, then Sydney's tallest building, that Kellys Bush was the only patch of green she could see on the Parramatta River. "It was the lungs of Sydney." (Pitt, 2011, 56).

A group of concerned citizens had formed by this stage and called themselves "The Battlers".

Unwittingly, the battlers set down a blueprint for the modern-day protest movement. They wrote hundreds of letters. They organised a 'phone tree' to pass on news. They invited media to 'boil the billy' days in the bush and plied them with baked goods. They ran essay competitions for schoolchildren about why the bush should be saved. They made badges and banners and got their teenagers to hang them around Hunters Hill. They enlisted the local school band, which marched form Hunters Hill High School to Kellys Bush, calling for 'browsing not housing'. They even roped in local Kylie Tennant to write protest poems. Dinner parties became battlegrounds and the peninsula community divided over the issue. Some wanted the sewage pipes that A.V.Jennings promised to build for the whole area or believed local state Liberal MP Peter Coleman, who said Council rares would drop when Jennings came...Over the course of several months, the battlers sent several delegations to the Liberal Premier of the day, Robert Askin, to argue their case. "Askin derided us as middle-class matrons" says Hunters Hill resident Phil Jenkyn, who says the women inspired him to form a group known as the Defenders of Sydney Harbour Foreshores (Pitt, 2011, 56).

They met with the (then) Premier Robert Askin, asking him to intervene. The Battlers also wrote to the various unions asking for their support and were referred to the Trades and Labour Council.

Despite the protest, in 1971 the Minister for Local Government signed the notice rezoning the land from Reserved Open Space to Residential. The President of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) met with The Battlers and went to the BLF executive, who supported them in principle. The trade union support resulted in the first "Black Ban" called for by the BLF over an area of land (on June 16/1971)(Pitt, 2011). Black Bans would later become known as "Green Bans" for their active pursuit of of the maintenance of green space. Six hundred people attended a rally in August 1971 to demonstrate their support for Kelly's Bush.

With the Union Green Ban in force, A,V.Jennings were eventually forced to sell the land to Hunter's Hill Council, however, by a narrow margin the councillors voted to retain the Residential Zoning. In 1977 the new Premier, Neville Wran, announced that no development would take place at Kelly's Bush. The discovery of radioactive waste on the site raised serious doubts as to its suitability for residential development.

A period of silence followed and then in 1983 Neville Wran announced that Kelly's Bush was to be set aside for full public access on a permanent basis. His press release read: "It represents a victory for environmentalists generally. The land will be used to give people access to natural bushland fronting Parramatta River."

The shape of modern Sydney is City of Sydney Labor councillor Meredith Burgmann, who wrote a book on the subject. The movement even inspired oveas...including German Petra Kelly, who would eventually form one of the world's first Green policital parties.

Mundey and the BLF went on to leaed 42 green bans in the early 1970s, holding up billions of dollars worth of construction...

It took the 13 women 13 years to save Kelly's Bush... When the Wran Government bought the land the women celebrated with a simple bush ceremony and a pot of tea - and invited Jack Mundey, by now their friend for life...Kids still build cubby houses here and roam by foot, bike or in their imagination among the banksias and bracken. Several of the seven dead battlers have had their ashes scattered in the bush... (Pitt, 2011).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Conserving and protecting natural features-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Natural landscapes valued by humans-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Park reserve-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Natural - regenerating native flora valued for conservation purposes-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods Smelting ores to extract metals-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Leasing land for mining-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Resuming private lands for public purposes-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from suburban lots to public gardens-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing suburbia-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in urban settings-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Urban landscapes inspiring creative responses-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in factories-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th c bush garden style-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Activities associated with relaxation and recreation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting lookouts and places of natural beauty-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Enjoying public parks and gardens-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Joining together to study and appreciate local history-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Belonging to an historical society or heritage organisation-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Jack Mundey and the Builders Labourers Federation (Union) Green Bans-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Jack Mundey and the Builders Labourers Federation (Union) Green Bans-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with the Hon. Neville Wran AC CNZM QC, NSW Premier 1976-86-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Robert Askin, NSW Premier-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Kelly's Bush Park has State historical significance for both its pre- and post-aborginal history. The site has historical significance as the former home of the Wal Umedagal people and as the site of the first "green ban", a landmark in the fight for environmental conservation.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Kelly's Bush Park has aesthetic significance as part of the network of open spaces on the Sydney Harbour waterways system. It is the largest area of natural bush on both the lower Parramatta River and the Hunter's Hill Peninsula.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Kelly's Bush Park has State social significance as the former home of the Wal Umedagal people and is therefore of social value to the descendents of this clan. It is of further social significance as the site of the first "green ban" and its demonstration of a community's willingness to preserve sites which they consider to be socially and culturally important to them.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Kelly's Bush Park has no technical/research significance as there are no extant remains of the former Smelting Company or of the original inhabitants of the area and the site is now a natural reserve.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Park is of limited rarity significance as there are a number of foreshore parks around Sydney Harbour, but has some rarity associated with the early environmental activities which took place there.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The park is representative of the development of Local Activism/Green Bans in the Sydney region, being the site of the first 'Green Ban.'
Integrity/Intactness: The park is substantially intact as an area of remnant bushland.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Continue Bush Management regime to ensure weed control.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0139102 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register  11 Feb 99   
Local Environmental Plan  13 Sep 91   
Register of the National Estate 266121 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
s.170 Register DUAP1999 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Kellys Bush Park View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Kellys Bush Park View detail
WrittenPitt, Helen, in The (sydney) Magazine, in The Sydney Morning Herald2011The Gang
WrittenSherry, Beverley2011'John Hunter', entry (Valentia Street Wharf footpath plaque)
WrittenTravis Partners1986Kelly's Bush Landscape and Management Plan Final Report

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045753
File number: 10/3627; S90/05764; H99/00055


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