The park is divided into two parcels of public land by McEvoy Street. The northern portion is located on steeply rising ground adjoining Our Lady of Mt Carmel Primary School, Kellick Street and Pitt Street. The southern portion, bounded by Elizabeth Street and Pitt Street, grades to Waterloo Oval.
This is a relatively simple mixed palette in comparison with Redfern Park and is similar to the broader landscape approach of Moore Park and the Domain. This informal style of mixed planting continues along McEvoy Street forming a distinctive and memorable avenue. An informal row of figs also continues along the Elizabeth Street frontage and north-eastern boundary to Waterloo Oval.
Notably, the planting near the oval includes two outstanding specimens of the native Deciduous Fig (Ficus superba var. henneana). These are located along the western boundary to Pitt Street. These Deciduous Figs were planted separately, at a different time to the other figs, some time in the late 1930’s or early 40’s. They are visually prominent and distinctive elements in the park.
The planting of Waterloo Park south is of aesthetical significance as a large green area between the residential and industrial establishments. It is of social significance as it was used by the local public for leisure, recreation and sports since 1880’s. Some individual specimen figs are considered to have significance at the local level due to their substantial size, scale and representative values. Moreover, the collection has group significance at the City/ LGA level in terms of its combined aesthetic, visual, historic and social values.
These trees are a vital part of the historic fig collections which define the broader public open space of the City of Sydney. Waterloo Park is scheduled in City of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012.
The land here was a diverse wetland, comprising lowland, swamps and streams, along with ‘undulating land, sandy soil covered with low scrub’. After European settlement the area was important as an urban water supply, and also irrigated numerous market gardens producing vegetables for the city. Port Jackson Figs dominate the planting structure forming an avenue along McEvoy Street which runs through the centre of the park. There is another example in the adjoining grounds of Mount Carmel School.
The site, known during the early colonial period as Hungry Hill (and later as Mt Lachlan after Governor Lachlan Macquarie), was significantly modified with fill material prior to the park’s establishment. Assessment of the 1943 aerial photos of the area reveal that most of the trees scheduled were significant and well established specimens, therefore it is assumed they were planted c.1900.
During the Inter-War period and latter part of the twentieth century subsequent overlays were established, particularly within the southern portion of the park. These included Coral Trees (Erythrina x sykesii), Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) and Broad-leaved Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia). These are considered to be neutral elements and have added little to support the landscape character of the original scheme.