Returning to Miss Carey’s Reserve

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Fifty years ago a little parkland reserve was officially named by the North Sydney Council after its creator, Miss Gladys Carey. It has been a couple of years since I last visited this special place near Careening Cove.

I had been invited by a group of  walkers from the Blue Mountains to come and share some of Miss Carey’s story with them. I arrived earlier to walk around the reserve and the neighbouring Milson Park which I had also planned to mention in my informal talk. These areas are places of my childhood, still rich in memories.

McDougall Street, which borders one side of Milson Park, was alive with activity. The purple blossom clouds of the Jacaranda trees that line this street were attracting a continuous flow of people with their  cameras.

The cacophony of maritime sounds coming from Careening Cove and the continuous noisy soundtrack that a city makes made me again aware of the changes that have taken place over the years. The reserve has always been a favourite place for contemplation and reflection. In the middle of this glorious Spring day, such cerebral activities, which i am sure Miss Carey would have appreciated in her park, were somewhat restricted. Even giving a talk here was a challenge. We headed to the far corner of the reserve, thereby avoiding much of the competing noise.

I found it a very satisfying experience to tell others about this dignified, gentle lady who still inhabits my childhood memories. Her generous dedication to the creation of a beautiful space for all to share is a wonderful story to tell.

Many of my songs and stories have had their origins in this park. The image of the park as an inspiration for these creations doesn’t escape me.

Since my last visit, the biggest change I noticed to the reserve was the new, rather intrusive, stairway that descends from High Street. There is also plenty of evidence that the reserve lacks the daily attention that Miss Carey provided.

Despite all this, I am sure Miss Carey would be pleased that this once wild space, which she transformed into something special, has been spared from the developers.

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Revisiting George Evans

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Yesterday I attended the unveiling of an interpretive sign in a small park on the Hampton Road, on the outskirts of Rydal, a rural village west of Lithgow. The new sign reminds those who stop to look, about the achievements of George Evans.

As Deputy Surveyor of Lands, he was instructed by Governor Macquarie in November 1813 to retrace the route taken by Blaxland’s exploration party after they crossed the Blue Mountains. Evans was to travel further than they did, surveying the the way and in so doing becoming the first European to cross the Great Dividing Range.

The sign was opened by Paul Brunton, the Emeritus Curator of the New South Wales State Library. He gave a very comprehensive and interesting talk on the life and achievements of Evans.

While sitting there I was reminded of the Footsteps In Time monuments that appeared on the Blue Mountains in the late 1980s. The idea of John Yeaman, they were designed to focus our attention on surveyor Evans. I had written a song about George Evans and I was invited to sing it at the Wentworth Falls and Glenbrook unveiling ceremonies. At those ceremonies I had the pleasure of meeting Mr A.K.Weatherburn, a great-great-grandson of Evans. He wrote a biography on his relative, published by Angus and Robinson in 1966. As far as I know, it is the only biography that has been written on Evans.


[image © Patricia Caffrey]

After the ceremony on Saturday we all headed back down the Hampton Road to the Bark Ridge property where morning tea was waiting. Here I sang some of my songs relating to Blue Mountains’ history including my song about Evans. There is something very satisfying when I sing a song like George Evans and, after all the years, it still feels fresh and appropriate to the moment.

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