This collection includes some of the larger examples of Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla) and Port Jackson Figs (Ficus rubiginosa f. glabrescens and f. rubiginosa) in the City of Sydney LGA. In particular, four specimen Moreton Bay Figs, located on the northern side of the lake, are of immense proportions and scale. One specimen stands 22 metres in height, 30 metres in canopy spread with a basal diameter of approximately 3m (aerial roots and buttressing extend to 6m in diameter). This would be one of the largest examples of this taxon in the City of Sydney. It has been vandalised and has a large hollow burnt out core in its base.
This area also contains a double formal avenue of Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis). The palms line a central pedestrian pathway linking Driver Avenue to Anzac Parade. They create a memorable avenue averaging 10-18 metres clear trunk height and have group significance at the City/ LGA level as important components of the pre war period. Unfortunately, a number of these palms are in decline “due to the fungal disease Fusarium oxysporum. Some 350 Phoenix sp. have been removed since the 1980’s due to Fusarium wilt and it is believed that the remaining trees will also fail due to this fungus that is currently untreatable. This avenue planting is being replaced with the Queensland Kauri Pine (Agathis robusta).” (Innes, I., CP&MPT submission to City of Sydney, 12 October 2005).
A further six Moreton Bay Figs and two small Port Jackson Figs occur along Moore Park Road, in the north-western corner adjoining Anzac Parade. These Moreton Bay Figs range between 15-20 metres in height and have canopy spreads up to 18-30 metres in diameter.
Further planting phases have occurred during the latter part of the Inter-War period and early Post-War period. These include the row planting of Hill’s Weeping Figs (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) along Driver Avenue. These figs range up to 16-18 metres in height with a canopy diameter of 25-30 metres. Some of these are reported some of the earliest surviving examples of Hills Weeping Figs outside of the Domain, particularly in the southern end near the Hordern Pavilion / Lang Road intersection. These are very large specimens over 20m in height and 30-35m spread and trunk diameters in excess of 1.0m at 1.0m above ground level. The older specimens in the south are now appearing to be in some decline with noticably thinning canopies. The younger specimens towards the middle and northern end of Driver Ave are in better condition and of similar size.
The mixed Fig and Palm planting presents an extremely historic and culturally significant group of trees dating from the late-Victorian period. Collectively, these trees have group significance at the City/ LGA level in terms of their aesthetic, historic, commemorative and social values. These trees are generally supportive of earlier thematic planting and have group significance at the local level.
Centennial Parklands, covering an area of more than 360 hectares, is comprised of three major parks – Centennial Park, Moore Park and Queens Park. In 1811, 1000 acres of land was set aside by Governor Lachlan Macquarie as the Second Sydney Common, an area which included the Lachlan Swamps (later linked via Busby’s Bore to provide Sydney’s water supply 1837-1886). In 1866, an area of 378 acres [approx. 149 hectares] of the Sydney Common was dedicated by Sydney City Council as parkland for public recreation to address the needs of a growing population. It was named Moore Park after Charles Moore, Mayor of Sydney (1867-1869) and Director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens (1848-1896). In 1888, Sir Henry Parkes officially opened Centennial Park which marked the centenary of the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove on 26th January 1788. Centennial Park was again the focus for celebrations on 1st January 1901 for the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia (inauguration of Federation) and the uniting of the six Australian colonies.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Moore Park continued to grow in importance as a focus for public recreation, entertainment and major sporting events. The first known polo game in Australia was played at Moore Park in 1874. In 1879, an initial land grant was established for the development of Moore Park Zoological Gardens, which were opened in 1884 (refer to Sydney Boys High School & Sydney Girls High School listing in this Register). The Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) Showground opened in 1882 and expanded into part of the Rifle Range in 1886. A nine-hole golf course known as the Moore Park Municipal Golf Links opened in 1913. This was later expanded to include 18-holes in 1922 and become the Moore Park Golf Course. The development of a broad range of recreational and entertainment facilities has continued up to the present day.
The Moore Park precinct now includes Moore Park, Moore Park Public Golf Course and Driving Range, ES Marks Athletics Field, Centennial Parklands Equestrian Centre, Fox Studios Australia (former RAS showground site – on lease from the Trust), Aussie Stadium and Sydney Cricket Ground.
This area contains an outstanding collection of significant trees. These trees are important historic and cultural landscape elements defining the public spaces – the parkland, pedestrian pathways, heritage listed buildings and road precincts. At a group level, the precinct’s significant trees are considered to be one of the City of Sydney’s most important collections in terms of the special combination of aesthetic, visual, scientific, botanic, cultural, historic, social and commemorative values. Within this group level, there are the dominant row plantations as well as a range of smaller clusters and groupings. Within these groups, there are a large number of individual specimens believed to have significance at both the local and broader City of Sydney LGA levels.
Charles Moore’s vision for these parklands, the streetscapes and public recreational spaces together with the work of Joseph Maiden (Director, Sydney Botanic Gardens 1896-1924), James Jones (Head Gardener/ Overseer 1887-89) and William Forsyth have created a lasting legacy for the people of Sydney. The Victorian period public planting schemes have matured to produce landscapes which are dominated by massive native figs, particularly the Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) and Port Jackson Fig (F. rubiginosa). These species have been used predominantly in row plantations along the boundaries to the parkland. Rather than establishing a lineal, formal layout of rigid spacings, these trees were set-out informally in the landscape. They are arranged in a more naturalistic way, stepping backwards and forwards along the boundaries, merging and overlapping with other planted elements and notable specimens. Essentially, the large, broadly spreading, evergreen figs remained the tree of choice in these schemes – the quintessential elements in these boundary plantations. This approach can be seen throughout Moore Park.
This portion of Moore Park contains a number of planting overlays from different periods. The informal groups and row planting around Kippax Lake dates from the latter part of the nineteenth century. These trees continue the thematic planting style of the late-Victorian period.
A single Moreton Bay Fig also occurs in Moore Park Road adjacent to the Aussie Stadium entrance. This is a massive specimen with a dramatic sculptural form standing 18 metres in height, 30 metres in diameter with a 4.0m diameter base. Although isolated from other similar-aged planting in the parkland, this tree has individual significance at the local level and group significance at the City/ LGA level as an important component of the Moore Park precinct.
A double formal avenue of Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) are thought to date from 1909 (Centennial Parklands Conservation Management Plan, 2003).
Further planting phases have occurred during the latter part of the Inter-War period and early Post-War period. These include the row plantations of Hill’s Weeping Figs (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) along Driver Avenue. Some of these, particularly in the southern end near the Hordern Pavilion/Lang Road intersection, were planted c.1929 are reported to be the earliest surviving example of Hills Weeping Figs beyond the Sydney Domain (which were planted in 1921). Most are visible as small trees in the 1943 aerial photos of the area. These are now some of the largest trees within this part of the Park.