Thursday, 10 April 2014

In Our Own Back Yard – A Walk in Machattie Park

The other day, I visited the Begonia House in Machattie Park.  You can see it here.

Today I thought I’d share a bit more of our lovely old park.

Firstly, for the history lesson.  The park is on the site of Bathurst’s first gaol, which was demolished in 1888.  A few local dignitaries lobbied for a park to be established on the site, including Dr Richard Machattie.  The park was established in 1890.

OK, let’s go for a stroll.

I hadn’t gone too far into the park before a movement caught my eye.  The last thing I expected to see in the middle of town was a water dragon about two feet long.

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He was very photogenic, turning his head just so for the camera.

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I was able to get to about six feet away from him and he was quite happy sitting there in the sun.  Rather a stunning chap.

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Anyway, I couldn’t stay watching him all  day, time to continue on my way. The camellias were looking lovely in the shade.

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As did the cosmos.

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You can just see the rotunda in the background in the photo above.  Here it is a bit closer. It is still used occasionally by bands, most notably for Carols by Candlelight each December, when the park fills with families.  Notice the big bunya pine in the background.  There are a couple in the park, both currently barricaded off, so no one gets donged on the head by one of the huge bunya nuts that drop at random. 

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Next along the way is the Crago Fountain. However, on reading up, it isn’t the “Crago Fountain”, but the “Great Fountain”.  Mr Crago was the mayor at the time.  Sorry, it will always be the “Crago Fountain” to me and I’m guessing many others. By the way, that’s the Uniting Church you can vaguely see in the background.

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Wandering back we pass the Begonia House again, this time with the dome of the Courthouse in the background. 

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Next to the Begonia House is the Fernery.  I used to love going in there as a kid.  I hadn’t thought of it for years, until the other day there was an article in the paper advising that Council will have to arrange for some major renovations of the roof.  One of those “I’d forgotten all about the Fernery, I must go and have a look one day” moments, then promptly forgotten again.

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The Fernery was established in 1890 when the park was first opened, and as you can see, is quite a sizable structure.

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There was a plaque at the entrance commemorating Charles Darwin’s visit to Bathurst in 1836.  I suppose I’d heard of that before, but had totally forgotten the fact. I learned lots about the park and our local history on my short lunchtime walk.

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Come and have a look inside.

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It wasn’t as wet and drippy as I remembered it, but everything looked lovely and fresh, and it may be my distorted memory.

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The main feature of the Fernery is the beautiful marble statues.  The Council website tells me they are Psyche, (daughter of Diana) on the left; La Prigioniera D'amore (prisoner of love) in the centre; and Dispacato D'amore (messenger of love) on the right.

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Dad had a lovely black and white photo of them he had taken while he was here doing his army training here before heading off to Singapore.

Look at the beautiful details.  Just humour me, as I took loads of photos.

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The sad fact is this is what greets you inside the Fernery.  Over the years these delightful ladies have been the victims of malicious damage on several occasions.  You can particularly see the damage to the lady holding the flower in her palm. Fortunately, there has been no further damage since the fence was installed.

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On that cheery note, let’s head outside again.

The other building in the park is the Caretaker’s Cottage.  It has had many uses and tenants over the years.  I don’t know what it is used for currently.

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If we turn around, we will see “Lake Spencer” named after one of the other main people who lobbied for the creation of the park.  Most people in Bathurst will have never heard of it.  It is normally just known as “The Duck Pond”, where generations of local kids have come to feed the ducks.

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Of course, what would a duck pond be without fish.  Huge koi carp are always happy to be fed.

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The other famous residents are the black swans. 

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There have always been swans in the duck pond and there is much excitement when cygnets hatch.  You can also read all about that in the local paper.  This year’s three babies are at that “Ugly Duckling” stage, but it won’t be long until they turn into graceful swans. 

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They were just having their lunch of lettuce leaves when I came along.

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Look here to see the cygnets back in November and there is even mention and a photo of the water dragon I saw.

There is more to see in the park - the tree where you can usually see a possum, the drinking fountains and several commemorative gates (although there is no fence between them), as well as all the ancient old trees.  However, it was time I was heading back to work.

Just to finish off, imagine kicking your feet through deep leaves here in autumn. 

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It was one of my favourite things to do as a tiny tot.  Heck, I still like nothing better than kicking through autumn leaves.  Blame my mum and Machattie Park for that.


Susan said...

So many of my childhood memories are in that park Janice, including my big sisters wedding. Thanks for the tour.

Fiona said...

lovely post...

loulee said...

Loved the walk in the park. :-)
There is a fernery and begonia house in a park here in Timaru, I must see if I can find my way back to them....
Enjoyed catching up. XX