Hollis Park contains a more or less contiguous group of mixed figs interlinking with avenue planting in Georgina Street, adjoining Warren Ball Avenue (refer to listing in this Register). There are few other embellishments in the park apart from an obelisk commemorating the work of W. Ball (1932) and recent landscaping using Port Jackson Figs (including infill planting to rows) and Queensland Kauri Pines (Agathis robusta) in a formalised style.
Although there are no individually significant specimens in the Hollis Park group, some of the Moreton Bay Figs have achieved quite substantial proportions and scale (up to 15-18 metres in height/ 25 metres canopy spread).
The collection of mixed Moreton Bay Figs (Ficus macrophylla) and Port Jackson Figs (Ficus rubiginosa f. glabrescens and f. rubiginosa) is considered to have group significance at the local level in terms of aesthetic, historic, and social values. This park is part of the Hollis Park Conservation Area, scheduled in the City of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012.
Together the figs make an important contribution to the local streetscape and neighbourhood character. The collection is further significant in its structural characteristics and relationship to the park.
The Hollis Park Heritage Conservation Area is historically significant as a rare example of an 1886 subdivision set around a ‘City Square’ developed with grand late Victorian terrace houses. The Hollis Park precinct has aesthetic values for its harmonious streetscapes and fine grouping of Italianate terrace houses of high integrity enhanced by the mature Ficus plantings in and around the park. The area is representative of a range of housing of the late Victorian period and includes Newtown’s earliest major park. The name of the Park commemorates Mr Robert Hollis M.L.A., a Newtown resident since 1884 who lived in Wilson Street and the Vice-President of the Newtown Jubilee Committee.
No major parks were established in the Newtown Municipality in the nineteenth century. Council often made approaches to the NSW Government for land for public recreation however there was no success until the Municipality’s Jubilee year in 1912. By this time only small parcels of land were available or areas associated with public schools. On the 7 November 1911, the Council’s Finance Committee and the Newtown Playgrounds Committee recommended that the Minister for Public instruction be asked to dedicate the land at the corner of Wilson and Fitzroy Streets for a children’s playground and to resume the land on both sides of North Kingston Public School to enlarge the playground. Council offered to fence the land and supervise it as a children’s playground provided the Department handed over the land on a long lease at a nominal rental. The Department accepted the Council’s offer and the grounds and playground were prepared in 1912. The Jubilee Week was held in December 1912 and ended on the 14 December. The Park was proclaimed on the 4 June 1913 and was dedicated on 8 April 1914. (State Heritage Register)
It is unknown if some of the trees predate this period when the park was formally dedicated. The style of perimeter row planting of public parks, using native rainforest figs, was promoted by Charles Moore during the latter part of the nineteenth century and J H Maiden during the early twentieth century. The age structure appears to vary between 100 years for the oldest trees through to more recent infill planting 50-70 years (during the Inter-War period). The structure of the park appears to be little changed from the 1940’s.