Parramatta Park was my backyard
1 May 2018
Remember the days of marbles, paper kites and hide-n-seek? I was a skinny kid living on a diet of outdoor fun. My mother didn’t need me to have a cell phone just because I wasn’t home at dusk. The Westmead Scout group was my hangout and Parramatta Park was my backyard.
In the late 1950s, I have hazy recollections of swimming at Little Coogee, eating fish-n-chips wrapped in newspaper on the banks of the Parramatta River and steering clear of George Salters dairy cottage because I was told it was haunted. It was as a cub and then a scout that my memories are the strongest. I would be out some nights with the scout mates spotting possums around Domain Creek, star gazing, learning about my place in the solar system and orienteering.
I remember well the badges I could earn, such as an Arborist badge for knowing the types of gum trees in the park. Aboriginal culture was also a topic and the bark canoes that they used in the river when hunting turtle and eel. The trees that those canoes came from were shown to me as scar trees; it represented a time stamp of their history. I was always on a push bike back then, riding from the weir when the river was in flood to finding lost golf balls at the parks Mays Hill site.
I was told at an early age about the triumph of the local dentist Billy Hart when he flew from Penrith to Parramatta Park and landing on Macquarie’s Cow Paddocks that also served as a cricket patch on summer days and a touch footy oval in winter. I treasure these memories; they are pearls in the oyster of our wonderful park.
-Gary J Carter