Booralee Park | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Booralee Park

Item details

Name of item: Booralee Park
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Parks, Gardens and Trees
Category: Reserve
Primary address: Bounded by Sydenham Railway Line and Daniel, Bay, Lord, Myrtle and Jasmine Streets, Botany, NSW 2019
Local govt. area: Botany Bay
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Bounded by Sydenham Railway Line and Daniel, Bay, Lord, Myrtle and Jasmine StreetsBotanyBotany Bay  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Booralee Park is historically, aesthetically and socially significant to the Bayside local area. It is a fine example of a late 19th century urban park which has remained the Botany community’s primary area of open space and place of commemoration since this time. The park itself includes several playgrounds for various ages, cricket nets and changing facilities. The central area provides four cricket wickets. The northern addition has two soccer fields and a basketball court, and the most recent addition to the north-east contains an Olympic swimming pool complex.

It is a locally significant cultural landscape that provides evidence of the need for space for both formal and informal recreation that accompanied the development of Botany as a residential area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It includes significant monuments such as the War Memorial, sporting facilities and evidence of the needs of earlier communities such as the Annis and Bills Horse Trough with a bubbler and dog bowl at its foot (in Bay street).

The park is aesthetically significant as a representative example of a late 19th/early 20th century open space, being mostly open space with a perimeter planting including mature Ficus (spp. Port Jackson?) to its perimeter and a visually prominent pair of Canary Island date palms flanking the War Memorial. A very good mature fig with enveloping canopy also terminates the streetscape views to the park from Daphne Street. The Soldiers’ Memorial is a formal space with a column-style memorial which records the names of those killed in the Great War. It is sited in a prominent location at the south-western corner of the park. The natural ground level is slightly higher than that of the park, allowing it to not only overlook the park, but also to read clearly as a powerful silhouette when viewed from the entrance at the corner of Bay and Daniel Streets.

Booralee Park is a fine representative example of a late 19th century suburban park with layers that provide evidence of the changing patterns of community recreation and use of public open space throughout the 20th century.
Date significance updated: 29 Jul 18
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.


Designer/Maker: Unknown
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1886-
Physical description: Booralee Park is a typical example of a large suburban park established in the late 19th/early 20th century. It includes facilities for a range of active uses and also a place for community reflection in the Soldiers’ Memorial in the south-western corner. An Annis and Bills’ horse trough and drinking fountain is located at the Bay Street edge.
Most of the space is open grass and devoted to active sport, with four cricket wickets, practice nets, a basketball court and two football/soccer fields, all lit by floodlighting. A large playground with shadecloth cover is located on the western side and a smaller, fenced area for young children on the southern with picnic area and BBQ facilities. Several dressing sheds and ground facilities are also on the eastern and western sides, the eastern completed recently. An Olympic swimming pool complex has been added to the original park at the north-eastern corner.
The planting to the perimeter is mainly mature Ficus with enveloping canopies, and the boundary is simply marked by timber railing of the mid-late 20th century, the original timber arras fence being removed.
The Memorial is marked by a pair of Canary Island date palms and includes formal plantings and a memorial column in polished granite and trachyte dedicated to the men from the area killed in the Great War. It is set at the south-western corner of the park which is slightly higher than the main oval, allowing it to not only overlook the playing fields, but also to read clearly as a powerful silhouette when viewed from the entrance at the corner of Bay and Daniel Streets. It is set in a formally landscaped composition based on the Celtic Cross with edges marked by low hedging. The corner to the intersection to Bay and Daniel Streets is marked by a pair of substantial sandstone pillars. Photographs taken soon after its installation show that it was originally surrounded by a timber rail fence and the hedging. The fence has now been removed.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Condition comments are based on visible elements. No detailed investigation of fabric was made.
Modifications and dates: 1923: Soldiers’ Memorial dedicated, lighting installed and garden plantings established.
1935: Annis and Bills’ horse trough; bubbler and dog drinking bowl installed (in Bay Street near the Memorial).
Ongoing: upgrading and adaptation of facilities to meet the active recreation needs of the community.
Further information: The setting of Booralee Park is important in establishing its sense of place, and the park also contributes to the streetscapes of Daniel, Bay, Myrtle, Daphne and Lord Streets. The listed curtilage extends to the street boundaries, and the visual curtilage (the ‘vicinity’ of the park) includes the front elevations of the properties that surround it.
Current use: Park


Historical notes: Booralee Park is comprised of three parcels of land and was proclaimed a Reserve on 17 September 1886. As this was before the incorporation of the municipality, the Public Parks Act 1884 required that a Trustee of the park be nominated. Booralee Park Trust managed the park until it was transferred to Botany Council after Council’s incorporation in 1889.

Botany Council cleared, grassed and planted trees in the park. In 1900 an additional five acres was proposed to be added, however this became complicated by the Metropolitan Water Board’s control over the area (as it remained within the Botany Water Reserve). No further steps were taken until 1922. Negotiations to dedicate the additional land for public use commenced in 1922 but a resolution was not reached until 1927.

In the aftermath of World War One a local committee was formed to orchestrate a memorial in honour of the fallen soldiers of Botany. After several suggestions a final agreement was made for the erection of a commemorative memorial in Booralee Park. A sum of £1,362 was raised by a local carnival for the memorial. The winning design was by a Mr. Martin and the tender to construct it was won by A.Goode, for £1,850. The foundation stone was laid on 16 December 1922 and unveiled by the Governor, Sir Walter Davidson, on 5 May 1923. The Memorial was placed at the south-western corner of the park. Following his visit to Botany, the Governor commented that the surrounding vicinity of the memorial was not yet as attractive as the memorial itself.

Botany Council continued to beautify the surroundings of the memorial, planting a garden and lighting it by electricity in 1923. A fete was held to raise the money necessary to pay the balance owing on the memorial so that the Committee could hand the memorial over to the Council free of debt, which they succeeded in doing in the following year (1924).

By this time Booralee Park had been established as a central park within the Botany community. A third parcel was added on 20 December 1935, being Reserves No. 65712 (from Sale) and No. 65713 (from Lease). (This parcel was occupied by the Commonwealth during World War Two for the storage of ammunitions.) Improvements made to the park included the laying of wickets for cricket, the addition of a changing room and the construction of a pavilion (which was destroyed in the 1937 cyclone). In the 1930s Booralee Park was the headquarters for the outstanding Botany soccer team, the Banksmeadow Rovers.

A horse water trough was donated by Annis and George Bills in 1935, presumably for the high number of carriages that trafficked the street to attend the local sporting events at the park. The water trough sits opposite the park in Bay Street, and is one of approximately 700 water troughs donated by the Annis and Bills Trust throughout Australia for the welfare of working horses. There is also an adjoining overflow/dog water bowl at the side of the trough.

In 1965 an Olympic pool was constructed at the site, opening in March 1966. Today there are basketball courts, two football fields and four cricket wickets. The park is ringed by mature Moreton Bay Fig trees which support a variety of birdlife and contribute to the grand scale and visual impact of the park. The memorial at the south-western corner of the park has since been dedicated to all wars and still provides a focal point for street views over the area.

Background historical notes

The following has been extracted from City of Botany Bay: A Thematic History (2017) by Elizabeth Conroy. Please refer to this document, in particular Section 10.2 ‘The suburb of Botany’, for more information.

The Traditional Owners of Botany Bay
At the time of the arrival of the Europeans in 1770, the Australian continent was owned by over 400 different Aboriginal nations. For tens of thousands of years Aboriginal people had lived in the Sydney Basin, with cultural and archaeological evidence of occupation of the Botany Bay area for at least 5,000 years.

The traditional owners of Botany Bay are understood to have been the Kameygal, also spelt Gameygal, people and further south, the Bidjigal people. The Botany Bay area also hosted two major language groups; the Dharug (or more specifically, “Darug coastal”) to the north between Port Jackson (or even as far as Broken Bay) down to Botany Bay, and Dharawal from the southern shore of Botany Bay down to the Shoalhaven River.
The period between the first European occupation of land in the Botany District, around 1815, and 1850 was a time of mass disruption to traditional movement patterns and the cultural and spiritual practices of Aboriginal peoples. Netting of fish in Botany Bay by the colonists had depleted the fish stocks and lime burning had taken a massive toll on the availability of shellfish. The food supply and natural use of the land by Aboriginal people was also severely impacted by the demands of colonial settlement such as fencing and the rigorous cultivation that had begun to take place.

Early land grants
The first recorded grants of land to Europeans in the Botany Bay area was on 16 September 1809 to three ex-convicts; Edward Redmond (135 acres), Andrew Byrne (30 acres) and Mary Lewin (30 acres) (situated in the vicinity of today’s Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport). Tom White Melville Winder (1789-1853), was surveyed 700 acres in 1822, 417 acres of which were in the Botany District. The recipient of the largest and best-known grant in the Botany District was Simeon Lord (1770-1841). Lord was granted 600 acres in 1823 which encompassed the whole of the lower portion of the Lachlan watershed, and later made further purchases that brought his total land holding to over 735 acres. The other major land holder in the area was the Crown which held 4,195 acres of land in a reserve known as the ‘Church and School Estate’. It was intended to provide the Crown with money through the subdivision and sale of the land to fund the Anglican clergy and parochial schools, but by 1833 the scheme had been abolished. Much of the land in the Botany District was not released for sale until the late 19th century.

The development of Botany
The three major landholders, Lord, Winder and the Crown, in the formative early phase in the area’s history meant that most of the land was essentially bound up in a stronghold between two wealthy magnates and the Government who each depended on the swampy wetlands for their industries and profits and who had little interest in subdividing it for sale into residential and commercial lots. In effect this somewhat quarantined the early Botany District for most of the 19th century from the building booms and busts that were shaping the rest of Sydney at this time. Access to the lower part of the Botany District was difficult and the main option in the early years, apart from a network of informal tracks through the swamps, was to travel to Sydney by water around the coast. The first attempt to make a formal road to the area was made in 1813. Due to much of its land being held by either the Crown or by the Lord family, by the 1860s Botany’s relative isolation and still sparse settlement meant its roads, public transport and utilities were deemed to be ‘behind’ those of Sydney suburbs. Land sales and residential development were slow to take off in Botany, with traditional industries such as fishing and market gardening being the main activities for many years. This isolated quality was however advantageous to one particular industry, that of noxious trades. Tanneries, wool-scours and boiling-down works flocked to Botany after being pushed out of Sydney by the Noxious Trades Act of 1848. Botany was able to satisfy needs for flat, cheap land with the copious water supply and ready drainage that was demanded by these industries. The proportion of the suburb available for residential development increased significantly following the large-scale release of ‘Lord’s Estate’ from 1863, with most of the area covered by modest detached cottages over the next 50 years. Botany benefited particularly from the introduction of a tram service down Botany Road towards Banksmeadow in 1882. By 1888 the area was sufficiently populated and motivated to seek (and subsequently gained) incorporation as a Municipality. Large-scale industries continued to operate in the suburb throughout the first half of the 20th century. Noxious trades continued to operate along the edge of the wetlands until after World War Two, however these have now largely ceased and the main industrial activity today in Botany is associated with the freight-handling industry servicing both Kingsford Smith Airport and Port Botany.

Recommended management:

Conserve and maintain the park as a low-impact, semi formal area of public open space. Do not intensify infrastructure or alienate space from open community access. Ensure that development surrounding the park does not encroach; and is visually neutral in scale, form and materials. Retain the perimeter plantings of Ficus and establish succession planting (via a second ring) to ensure that any loss of the original trees will not impact on the spatial or aesthetic qualities of the park’s perimeter.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanBotany Bay LEP 2013I6121 Jun 13 2013/133 
Local Environmental Plan - LapsedBotany LEP 19956325 Feb 00 291464

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Botany Heritage Study1996L2.3Tropman & Tropman  No
City of Botany Bay Heritage Review2018 E. & R. ConroyRC Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenElizabeth Conroy2017City of Botany Bay: A Thematic History
PhotographNSW Land and Property Information Six Viewer
WrittenVarious Historic newspapers

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1210063

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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