Returning to Miss Carey’s Reserve


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.


One Reply to “Returning to Miss Carey’s Reserve”

  1. Hi Jim. I was a resident of High St in the sixties and seventies. I lived at 135. Next to the Debney’s. I remember Gladys and her sister. Also the cat Inky. I visited them as a child and Gladys showed me her paintings of her dreams she had done on her wall. Her sister proudly showed me her penny in the slot gas meter. Gladys was I think vegetarian and did not like the idea of killing animals. She was always accompanied in the reserve by a willie wagtail. The bird disappeared one day and we think the prime suspect was Inky. Inky died and my mother and I buried him in the yard at her house. Careening Cove was a magical place to grow up. I carried on your legacy in the storm drain. Dams of huge engineering significance were built and destroyed. Care needed to be taken in the green section. The old boat shed was so beautiful and I worked there for a while, painting boats, in it’s old form. A warren of corrugated iron., constantly evolving and changing as required. I worked there as it was being sized up for it’s ugly reincarnation. Thank you so much for your wonderful story of the Carey family. I loved it and learned so the missing pieces of their lives. Regards to you. John.

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