Boomerang Park – its history and its vibrant Preservation Group.
Boomerang Park was included as a public reserve in the first survey of Raymond Terrace in 1837. Given its age, it is one of the oldest parks in the State.
Boomerang Park has had three names. The first was ‘The Reserve‘. When sandstone was discovered in the Park it was mined for construction of buildings in the 1840s. Then it was discovered that the stone was soft and that better quality sandstone was on the other side of the hill at Muree. The stone at Muree won international recognition for its fine quality. When the Park was used as a mine it was called, ‘Quarry Hill’. In 1914, the Park was given its current name of ‘Boomerang Park‘ after a local author, John Richard Houlding, who wrote under the nom de plume of ‘Old Boomerang’. This is perhaps an apt pseudonym for Mr Houlding who came to Australia from England, lived in the Terrace for some time before returning to his motherland. However he subsequently came back to Raymond Terrace and is buried in Sydney.
The Park is listed as an item of local heritage significance on the Port Stephens LEP 2013 due to its important role in the development of the town. Some items of heritage interest are the quarry pond, reservoir, cricket pitch, many mature trees as well as the local military history.
The Park provides various recreational opportunities such as a sports ground and skate park, a fenced dog park, numerous picnic areas and a beautiful forest.
In 2014 the Port Stephens Council moved a motion to have 4.5 hectares of the Park developed for housing. And this was when and why the Boomerang Park Action Group was formed – to attempt to halt this proposed development. In 2018 the Group changed its name to Boomerang Park Preservation Group Inc. (BPPG) and after years of lobbying by the dedicated members, the plan for development in the Park was finally withdrawn in 2019. What an achievement by local residents!
Since then, BPPG’s focus has been to involve the local community in helping preserve both the built and natural heritage of the Park. The Group has worked with Hunter Water to prevent the demolition of the historic water tower which was built in 1928. They are also consulting with the National Trust to develop a landscape plan to rehabilitate the mature tree planting in the Park. Furthermore, they are applying to have the Park listed as a State Heritage item. This would be a significant step towards protecting the Park for perpetuity.
The Park contains good quality koala habitat which has previously been inhabited by koalas. The forest is home to a vast array of birds including a family of Grey-crowned babblers which are listed as a vulnerable species in NSW. The Group works with the Raymond Terrace Parks Reserves and Tidy Town Group to care for the forest and to plant food for wildlife. In addition, a major project is to plant koala food trees in Muree Golf Club, Hunter Water Wastewater Treatment Plant and Elizabeth Reserve to fill gaps in the koala corridor into Boomerang Park.
BPPG collaborates with other groups in holding community events in the Park. For example, National Tree Day was celebrated in the Park together with students from local schools. When the Boomerang Park Markets are held, it is a great opportunity to talk to residents from the local community or beyond, and share information about the Park’s history, its fascinating fauna and flora – and of course, about the vibrant Boomerang Park Preservation Group.