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  • Have Your Say on the planned upgrades to Manly's Ivanhoe Park (including Manly Oval)

Friday, 10 September 2021

It’s the green heart of Manly and the best piece of flat, green grass in the neighbourhood. But few know that Ivanhoe Park’s history as a place for the community to come together, play sport and take some time out dates way back to the mid-late 1800s when it became a destination for Sydney’s well-heeled to dance, picnic and play organised sport.

We have been working on a plan with our community to ensure Ivanhoe Park meets the community needs meanwhile respecting its cultural landscape and built heritage, into the future.

Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback so far! I It’s not too late to have your say, submissions are closing Sunday, 19 September.

To help get you thinking about why Ivanhoe Park is important to you, here’s five surprising historical facts about the park.

1. Unique and diverse landscape

Ivanhoe Park’s natural gully landscape was special to the original custodians, the Gayamay (Ka-ye-my) people. The eastern low-lying mangrove swamp country was a plentiful food source and the sandstone escarpment and outcrops rising westwards gave ideal shelter and gathering places. Flowing down these slopes was at least one watercourse providing essential drinkable water. Today, this unique landscape setting provides the perfect protected microclimate for the Botanic Gardens.

2. Sydney’s pleasure grounds

The first known usage of the name ‘Ivanhoe Park’ appears in print in December 1870, advertising its large dancing pavilion to entice Sydneysiders to take the ferry to Manly. The pavilion buildings, re-used following the Intercolonial Exhibition in Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park, and the ‘pretty and shaded grounds’ of Ivanhoe Park, made it a popular place for picnic parties, public and private balls, concerts, lectures, and outdoor sports for casual visitors.

3. Annual Wildflower Show

The first wildflower show held in Ivanhoe Park in 1881 was described by Charles Moore, the then Botanic Gardens director, as the ‘grandest floral exhibition ever seen in the colonies’ and saw 2000 to 3000 people travelling to Manly from Sydney. The shows were so successful that similar exhibitions were held until 1899. In 1886, a permanent fernery, with ‘nearly every variety of fern and palm obtainable in the gullies of the district’, was housed in a building adjoining the pavilion.

4. Organised sport finds a home

Manly cricket club, founded in 1878, is the second oldest existing cricket club in New South Wales and became one of the inaugural members of Sydney’s grade cricket competition, joining the 1893-1894 season. From 1885, the park became the sporting home of the district with cricket, rugby, bicycling, tennis, lawn bowls and croquet played within the grounds.

5. Merrett Memorial Gates

The sandstone gateway was erected at the Sydney Road entrance to Manly Oval in 1927 to honour local identity Ossie Merrett. Merrett was the manager of the very successful and much-lauded 1924 Olympic team which included four Olympic medallists from Manly; Nick Winter (athletics), Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton and Ernest Henery (swimming) and Dick Eve (diving).  The four locals won six of Australia’s seven medals at the Games and became known as “the boys from Manly”.

This historic information was taken from the Ivanhoe Park Conservation Management Plan, which is available in full on our website.

Don’t forget to Have Your Say by 19 September.

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