Victoria Park is a small, nine hectare, triangular park nestled between the busy Parramatta and City Roads and the University of Sydney. Given its small size and the constant traffic on the adjacent roads I imagined it might be noisy and not at all peaceful. This is not so, probably because it is set at a level slightly lower than the roads, though I am no expert on acoustics.
The park was originally part of the grounds of the University of Sydney, the main building of which stands proudly above the western side of the park and is accessed by a series of steps. This explains the 1888 Neo Gothic sandstone Gate House/ University Gardener’s Lodge and grand entrance gates near the intersection of the Parramatta and City Roads – the point where you will most likely enter the park if you take a short bus ride (though it is easily walkable from Central Station) out from the city.
Today the restored gatehouse is a café while post 1911, when it and the parkland was transferred to the City Council from the University, it has had a few uses though it lay vacant and neglected for a number of years. Prior to its current use (and a lengthy vacant period) it was a block of public toilets – or ‘conveniences’ as the City Council liked to call them in the day.
I didn’t eat it in the café, it hadn’t opened when I passed by, though online reviews of it that I have seen are almost universally very negative – which is such a shame given the lovely building, its proximity to the park’s small lake and the lovely view across the park towards the University, on the horizon. Looking at the prices on its menu I would certainly expect something better than average. Perhaps it was best it wasn’t open when I passed through.
The park is well shaded and offers lots of opportunity for a pleasant picnic on its grassy lawns while the more energetic might want to go for a swim in the outdoor Victoria Park public swimming pool, located in the centre of the park. There is also a playground to keep children amused and dogs are permitted (including off leash in a couple of areas, at certain times of the day).
In the centre of Lake Northam, named after Bill Northam, an Australian Olympic yachtsman, there is a fountain in the shape of a yacht while the lower part of the lake can be crossed via an old ornamental wooden bridge.
The other notable feature in the park is a rather out of place totem pole. The colourful totem pole, carved by Quamichan man Simon Charlie from Victoria Island, British Colombia, was a gift from the Canadian Government and the people of Canada to mark National Timber Week in 1964.
Unless you plan on having a picnic you won’t need to spend long here and, indeed, most of it can be viewed if you walk across the park to get to the University of Sydney which I thoroughly recommend you visit to have a look at the university building itself, its two excellent museums and its small (very small) art gallery.
No entry free applies and the park is open 24/7.
Address: Intersection of Parramatta and City Roads
For my last Sydney – City – ULTIMO – CAMPERDOWN – CHIPPENDALE review.
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