Bold plan preserves heritage and harness racing past

Bold plan preserves heritage and harness racing past

Sydney’s harness racing past will be preserved as part of the City of Sydney’s bold plan for a vast new public space just kilometres from the city centre.

The Johnstons Creek Parklands Master Plan, centred on the Glebe peninsula, celebrates the rich historical layers of the area, from its Aboriginal heritage to the working waterfront, former transport depot, and the Harold Park Paceway.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said a total of 19 hectares of public lands would be consolidated, including the existing Bicentennial Park, Federal Park and Jubilee Park, Pope John VI Reserve, “The Hill,” The Crescent and new open space from the redevelopment of the former Paceway.

“Going to the trots was a real family outing in the 1950s and 1960s and tens of thousands of people used to flock to Harold Park on a regular basis,” the Lord Mayor said.

“In what is now one of the country’s highest density residential areas, with many locals racing from apartment to office block, this plan will create a wonderful tapestry of green open space,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It balances the community’s need for recreational and community facilities, with safe havens for flora and fauna, and celebrating and preserving the area’s fascinating past.”

Harold Park Paceway, which opened in 1902 and closed in 2007, drew crowds of more than 50,000 to watch horses being put through their paces during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

A new bridge at the mouth of the canal will allow an uninterrupted foreshore walk and views directly down the canal to the viaduct. A simple, lightweight pedestrian bridge will bring foot traffic from the Jubilee Park light rail stop across to the Federal Park, The Crescent and a new community facility.

The plan allows the figs next to the Tram Sheds to be kept along with the heritage-listed stands of mature trees and palm avenues. The historic fence alongside the canal at Harold Park will be retained.

Council endorsed the plan following an extensive public consultation involving more than 300 local residents, community members and sporting groups who participated in workshops, focus groups, interviews, digital forums, online consultations and written submissions on the proposed plan.

Sydney once had one of largest and most sophisticated tram networks in the world. The Rozelle Tram Depot was the second largest in Sydney. Construction began in 1903 with rock excavation that now forms the cliff face to Maxwell Road.

By 1918, the Tram Depot was running at full capacity with 200 cars and more than 650 workers. In 1919, the tram sheds were saved from fire by water supplied by a tank that will feature prominently in the reinterpretation of this important piece of transport history.

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Catharine Munro. Phone 02 9265 9102 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Jonathon Larkin on 0477 310 149 or email