Hyde Park, circa 1940

hyde park 1 watermarked

This photo of the War Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park, part of a set of Government Printed Tourist Photos dating from about 1940, really resonates with what we see of Hyde Park today.

Most of us see Hyde Park as a peaceful, green sanctuary in our busy city. It is a place where people come to relax, taking time out from their hectic city lives to enjoy the tranquil beauty of this open, green space. It is a perfect escape from the concrete world of the CBD, with its massive, tree lined roads, the beautiful Archibald Fountain and tranquil War Memorial. Yet Hyde Park has not always been a place for rest and relaxation. In fact, it’s history reveals that the area started out life in quite a different capacity!

Over the next month, The Past Present will be featuring images of Hyde Park in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Come back next week to view the next installment in the series and find out a little more of the history of this favourite Sydney spot!

Celebrating New Beginnings – Canberra

Residential district and Hotel Ainslie in North Central part of Canberra lowland.

Residential district and Hotel Ainslie in North Central part of Canberra lowland.

This week is a time to celebrate New Beginnings at The Past Present. Not only are we finally launching our blog, but we are celebrating 100 years since Canberra, Australia’s Capital City, received its name. To celebrate, the Past Present presents an image of a Canberra which is long gone.

When Canberra received its name in 1913 it marked a new beginning for the area. Europeans had been in the Canberra region since the 1820s, and Aboriginal occupation by the Ngunnawal People dates back even further, to 21000 years ago. Yet up until the new name was given to the area, Canberra had simply been a farming community. The new name commemorated the past, being derived from the name Canberry, which was the name of the sheep station established by the first European settler in the area, Joshua John Moore. The sheep station in turn had possibly taken its name from the Aboriginal word for the area. Yet the name also pointed to a more illustrious future for the region. In 1901 Australia had become Federated and a National Capital had to be decided on where Federal Parliament could sit. The Canberra area was chosen as the site in 1908 and the Australian Capital Territory was declared in 1911. A competition was held to design the Capital City for the area, which of course Walter Burley Griffin went on to win. The city would need a name though and when this name, Canberra, was officially declared in 1913, Canberra’s future was assured.

This photo was taken in 1936 by an unknown photographer. It shows Canberra as young city, with few buildings. Indeed many of the buildings we recognise today were not yet completed, and some were not even underway. (Old) Parliament House had opened less than 10 years before, the Australian War Memorial would not be completed for another 5 years, the National Library as we recognise it would not be opened for more than 30 years and the National Gallery would not even be built for nearly 50 years. The Canberra captured in this image is still a small, rural community, with an important future ahead.