Austin Park, Marlborough Road Homebush West was built in 1919 and designed to be a playground for children. In 1928, Homebush Council resolved to call the playground ‘Austin Park’ in memory of the late Alderman Edward Daniel Austin, former Mayor of Homebush Council (1914-1917, 1920, 1925). The top photo is dated c.1970 and the colour photograph 1959.
I recall hearing from one of the neighbours local to the park that the land at Austin was donated for the purpose of being a playground by a lady whose house was nearby. I’m not sure if this is the case but thought it may be of interest. I’m assuming the bottom 1959 photo is looking west ie: Courallie Avenue? I’m not sure what was in the M4 corridor prior to it being built but I’m guessing there wasn’t the kind of housing present as that pictured?
I have often read about land being donated for parks but rarely found too many examples. I don’t know if it was donated. Marlborough Road did contain these type of houses and there were houses on both sides of the road. The east side of Marlborough Road is now a major road, Homebush Bay Drive. Where Sydney Markets is now located was the former Sydney Stockyards. When the Markets was built many small streets disappeared or were cut in size eg Potts, Hmmaersmith etc and many houses were demolished. I think the colour photo is likely facing Courallie Ave also.
How easily local history can slip by! The chap who told me about that lady has long since moved on so it would require an extensive search of presumably Homebush Council records to shed light on it. My recollection of that long ago conversation was that the lady’s house was in the now M4 corridor and that he indicated south of the reserve as a general indication of where it was. He also told me a story of a child’s death from running onto the road but when Council was trying to find evidence for such an event apparently none could be found. From the gravity of his conversation though I’m inclined to think something did happen but a long while ago.
I will do some research, I have some old maps and should be able to piece this together. A lot of Homebush’s roads have been altered with building of the M4 and WestConnex as well as the Sydney Markets development.
Well……….. this is the street where I grew up……..
The second photo is actually back to front. If you are looking towards Marlborough Road, then the house shown on the L/H boundary of the park, is actually on the R/H boundary. The big shed in the photo next to the park is behind that house.
The phone box that you can see was opposite that house, and next door to the phone box was the local shop (opposite the house).
If you look to the far side of the house photo, you can see the side of a 2 story building and a front facade. This was the David Dawn mattress factory. It was destroyed by fire sometime in the 1960″s?
The parks’ name is from Edward Daniel Austin who was the Mayer of Homebush for a time? His Daughter was Miss (?) Austin, and who lived on corner of Marlborough Road and Courish Ave, in a lovely old timber Federation home. I believe that Austin Avenue, the cross street below Courish Ave off Marlborough Rd may have been named after him as well.
I used to do chores and mow the lawns for “Old Miss Austin” (as everybody knew her). She was a lovely old lady.
The house may well have been the family home, as I remember my mother telling stories about pinching fruit from “Miss Austins”
As for the playground, there was a slippery dip, and a merry go round, and a set of monkey bars and parallel bars behind.
The other side was swings, and behind the swings was two see-saws. These were long planks and were adjustable to compensate for different size kids.
The opposite side to the house next to the park was for a long time vacant land, and there was often a horse kept there, and there was an old shed to house the hay. My cousin, and her friends used to hold Kids meetings there, and this one night I was dragged along. I was a lot younger, just a little kid. All I remember was that there were candles, as it was dark, and then next thing the barn was on fire. As I was the little kid, and a boy, so I got the blame.
I’ve since found an aerial photo of Flemington in the 1950’s, and when I blew it up, I had great delight to point out the barn to my cousin, next to the park, that I got the blame for setting alight.
My Grandfather (Alexander Christopher Mortimer) lived in 58 Marlborough Road, and was the head drover for Winchcombe Carson, at Flemington Saleyards. My Mum was born in Doncaster Avenue, Flemington in what was know as the house in the sale yards.
One uncle lived in Couralie avenue, and was also a drover. I lived in one of the semi detchaded houses 62 Marlborough, and another Aunyt and Uncle, and my cousin next door,
Other relatives lived also in Flemington.
I had a blessed childhood really, especially as a boy, the suburb was one big playground. I must have spent half my childhood in the saleyards, and then there was the canal at the back of Courallie Avenue. The Ford Factory or Polymer Corporation Chemical Works (were the old brick works were) were never out of bounds either.
There was a large area of vacant land on the same side as the park at the top of Marlborough Road, and it was regularly visited by Ashton’s & Bullen’s Circus. There was also a huge Morton Bay Fig tree on the vacant land, and we had the best Tarzan swing any kid could ever wish for. You had to climb up through the back of the tree and walk through the tree to get to the swinging platform.
Doncaster Avenue came out of the sale yards, and crossed Parramatta road and went on into the abattoirs. It was used to herd the sheep & Cattle over to the abbatoirs after the sales. There was a post about 500 metres up from Parramatta road, that had a button to stop the traffic on Parramatta Road so the sheep could cross. There was another post and button on the other side that the drover would press to change the lights back to green. The favourite trick for the local kids on the way home from Homebush Primary School if we walked home, was to press the button to stop the traffic, and then continue home.
We got caught doing lots of things, but the traffic light we always got away with.
I moved out with my Mum when I was seventeen, when they started to build the markets. It’s all gone now……… and all I have is memories!!!!! Great Memories.
BTW, there may be some inaccuracies, as I’m only relying on my memory.
I can probably come up with names, if you give me some time? G
Thank you so much for your post, your memory is so extensive and really appreciated. Austin Ave is probably named for the former Mayor.
Enjoyed reading your post Greg. I think I remember you. I also lived on Marlborough Road nearly opposite Miss Austin and always played in the park
Correction ,the boundary shown is the Northern one, the photo is facing Marlborough rd .If you look at the black and white photo you can see the play equipment looking from the road west. The link to Courallie ave for us Kids was through a few loose palings in the yard at the rear fence The lady there (Misses Boness) knew we were all going to the park through her yard and never complained. many years after her death her house was resumed by the council demolished and the park then extended into Courallie ave.These things I know as I lived in Courallie ave for my first 20 years and often played in that park, and of course the saleyards etc..
Yours Glenn Bernard
I played in that park in the early 1960’s. My grandmother ( Johanna Crawford ) owned a brick house, a few doors down from the park on the left hand side
I remember your grandmother, it was a lovely old home, very smart.
She had tropical fish.
She used to have a border? Don’t know if there was anything more to it than that, but no one really cared.
There was Mortons on the down side next to her, and Mrs Davis on the top side, then Aunty Marge, the vacant block, which the O’Briens built on, and then the park.
Seems like it was just yesterday………..Life was much simpler then, Greg
Hey Greg, fascinating first hand info & recollections! I’ve never lived in the area only worked. Thanks so much for posting!
You might be interested to know, the the front fence and signage in the first photo of the playground was a replacement probably done in the ’60s.
The original facade was far bigger and more elaborate, and had 4 posts at either of the playground signage. the posts were positioned to form a square.
Be great to get a Pic?