May 17th – Henson Park

Henson Park

Henson Park will be familiar to anyone who watched rugby league in the early 80’s.

Like many other families, Saturday mornings are spent scattering to various parts (and parks) in the city to for kids activities. Today’s adventure took us to Henson Park in Sydney’s inner-western suburb of Marrickville.

Named after former Marrickville Mayor, William Henson, the site was originally Daley’s Brick Pit which ceased trading in 1913 when the clay was all but consumed. The abandoned site would fill up with rain and groundwater, creating pools for the locals to come and swim. One of these pools was over 20 metres (80 feet) deep.

In 1923 the Marrickville council purchased the land following the drowning of as many as 9 young boys on the site over the years since the closure of the brick pit.

Henson Park as a sporting venue was opened some 10 years later. A cricket match was held between a Marrickville rep team and North Sydney, and featured none other than Sir Donald Bradman.

But Henson Park is more renown as a rugby league venue, home of the Newtown Jets. The Jets played their first game at Henson Park in 1936 (they beat University 20-0), and their last in the top flight NSWRL competition in 1983 before they were excluded from the competition.

The diversity of the venue doesn’t finish there. It was also the principal venue for cycling and the Closing Ceremony for the 1938 Empire Games.

Today if you visit Henson Park you may see a game of Aussie Rules or soccer, and you can still park your car inside the venue perimeter and watch from the comfort of your car seat. Most importantly, don’t forget to lean on the horn when a goal is scored.

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