For nearly 200 years Australia’s urban public parks and gardens have been used for the public display of memory. This is manifested most frequently in three iconographic customs: special landscaping, naming, and the placement of commemorative and historical artefacts. From the statue of New South Wales’ Governor Richard Bourke (1842, Sydney Domain) to the Anzac Peace Park (2010, Albany, Western Australia), the association between parkland and commemoration has been long and persistent. This has been by way of landscape designs and plantings, memorial gardens, parks named after important events (Australia’s Bicentennial), and public reserves that commemorate worthy people (Don Bradman). Parks also act as containers for countless commemorative objects as diverse as monuments, cannon, agricultural equipment, plaques and flowers. By exploring these conventions through examples from across the nation and over two centuries, the paper considers the relationship between Australia’s urban public parks and the commemorative icons contained within them. Have public parks become emblematic settings for national and local feelings, or dumping grounds for public commemoration or, perhaps, a bit of both? The paper considers the commemorative capacity of Australian urban public parks as a way to consider whether the memorials make meaningful gestures, and to explore the relationship between memory and place.
The author 2016
Proceedings of the 13th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2016