Gough Whitlam Park

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The land between Cooks River and Wolli Creek was granted to Arthur Martin in 1809. Martin had arrived in the colony as a convict but by 1809 he had received a conditional pardon and was employed as Government Overseer of the Botany Bay limeburners. He sold his 100 acres to Frederick Wright Unwin in 1835 for 331 pounds and 18 shillings. See the Wanstead heritage panel for more history of Unwin's occupation of this site.

In 1906 the State Government declared the land between the junction of the Cooks River and Wolli Creek waterways to be "unhealthy" under the Public Health Act of 1902. Building was forbidden on this low-lying land which "gave off gases and vapours, which were "prejudicial and dangerous to health".

This land remained in the possession of the Department of Public Works for the storage of materials used in the maintenance of the river banks and for the disposal of dredgings from the river.

It was donated to Canterbury Council in 1978 and Council transformed the area into parkland. It was possibly known as Waterworth Park North before naming after Gough Whitlam.

Council named the area Gough Whitlam Park in December 1982 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the election of the Whitlam government.

Mr Whitlam unveiled a plaque which acknowledged his Federal Government's assistance to Canterbury Council during its term in office.

Recent improvements In recent years Council has made significant improvements to the park.

Indigenous mosaic

On 22 October 2004 an Indigenous Mosaic was installed. It is the sixth in a series of street mosaics commissioned by Council to promote one of the greatest assets of the City - our cultural diversity and our unique heritage. All of these mosaics feature a central theme of Respect. Unity. Peace and are a product of the close partnership we share with residents and community groups in these areas of Canterbury. With this mosaic we recognised and celebrated the original custodians of the area, the Bediagal people, and we pay our respect to them. The mosaic is located near the Cooks River cycle path and the bridge over the creek. It is the design work of Danny Eastwood and Steven Vella fabricated the artwork.

Visit the Indigenous Mosaic page for more information.

Garden of the World

The Garden of the World is located on a small rise near the main foreshore pathway along the Cooks River to maximize its visibility and link with the Park and the main users of the park.

The concept of a garden is to botanically represent the major cultural makeup of the Canterbury community. The project was initiated by Council's Multicultural Advisory Committee. There are five themed gardens in the park, four of which form a representation of a flower. It includes Australian, Europe-Mediterranean, South East Asian, South Pacific and Middle East themes. The Garden is connected with a children's playground by a pathway and is part of a small loop walk around the nearby pond. The Garden was built in 2007-09.

After a competition, a sculpture was commissioned by the artist Terrance Plowright to enhance the Garden and to reflect themes in the Garden design. The sculpture illustrates the bringing together of all nations and reinforces the idea of the beauty and harmony that is possible within a multicultural society. It includes an inscription "Peace. Unity. Respect". The sculpture is called "Awakening Flower of the Peace" and it was unveiled by the Mayor of the City of Canterbury, Cr Robert Furolo, on 14 August 2010.

A welcome sign was erected at the entrance to the Garden which reads as follows:

The City of Canterbury Council recognises the Bediagal people, a clan of Dharug people, as the traditional custodians of this land, and values the continuing culture and community contributions of its Indigenous Australians.

We also recognise the significant contributions made by successive waves of migrants from all parts of the world. They have brought with them a rich array of skills, experiences, languages and cultures which contribute in so many ways to the success of the City of Canterbury today.


Madden Brian J and Lesley Muir "Earlwood's past; a history of Undercliffe and Clemton Park, NSW", Campsie: Canterbury Municipal Council, 1989.