Tuesday, 5 October 2010

My Place: Henson Park

I live in the inner west of Sydney and I'd like to share some of the places that I feel have become part of 'My Place'. First up is Henson park.

The inner west of Sydney was full of brick pits in the early part of the last century. Henson park was once a huge gaping brick quarry. After the brick pit closed the quarry filled with water and became somewhat of a hazard so in 1937 it was transformed into a stadium. Henson park was originally built as a velodrome for the Empire games ( a forerunner of the commonwealth games). The cycle track was later filled in and became a grass oval and home to the Newtown Jets (NRL), who still play here today.

Henson park is a pretty amazing space, I find it hard to do it justice with pictures. When you enter the park from the direction of my house you enter right at the highest point. You can very easily imagine the days when a great yawning quarry was spread out at your feet rather than a grassy hill. The air has a very open feel to it and I always find it very relaxing to be in. When Lewis was a newborn I would walk laps of the park with him in a sling. I was reeling with all the emotions that come with being a new mother and the quiet symmetry of the park always helped calm me and my fussy baby.

Trying out the sling at Henson park a few days after giving birth

I love the late 30's architecture in the stadium, you see it dotted all over the inner west, old pubs and chimneys all made out of the local bricks. Henson park features a great old grand stand called the King George V Memorial Grandstand

A lonely spectator

While Henson Park is still a functioning sport stadium it is also a favourite dog walking park. At dusk on most days locals come and let their dogs roam as they chat. It is very rare that I have visited the park and not stopped to have a chat with at least one dog or their owner. Henson park feels like it is part of our community.

It may seem underwhelming, an old oval ringed by concrete but Henson Park feels good to me, it is a space that I enjoy being in, an so does Lewis. Oh and of course it wouldn't be part of the inner west if it didn't feature...planes! Again this is hard to photograph but when the huge A380 lumbers into the sky above the park you really do feel like you could reach up and tickle its tummy.

I found out recently that Henson Park is also a Geo Caching location. Geocaching is a global treasure hunt where each 'treasure' location is identified by following a co-ordinate using a GPS. The idea is to locate a geocache (canister) and share your experience online. It is meant to promote community and the environment (somehow) and I guess teach GPS skills. I haven't really gotten into it on a large scale (though I am intrigued) mostly because I don't have a GPS (maybe if I get my hands on an Iphone4) but I was delighted to learn that inside a crack in a wall in my own little Henson park was a little treasure just waiting to be discovered!

So that is Henson Park. Part of My Place. Why don't you come for a walk there? Lewis and I will gladly join you!

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