Celebrating Kelly’s Bush

Kelly’s Bush is an area of heritage listed bushland located on the on the southern foreshore of the Woolwich Peninsula, along the Parramatta River.

The area is part of the ancestral lands of the Wallumedegal clan of the Eora nation, the Indigenous people of this area of the Sydney basin.

In the 1880s, the bushland became a buffer zone between a smelting works and the surrounding residential area.

Locals used Kelly’s Bush for recreation, with popular activities including walking and fishing.

In 1971, it became the site of the world’s first green ban, after it was famously saved from incoming development by dedicated conservationists.

Since 1995, dedicated Bushcare volunteers have carried on the legacy of the Kelly’s Bush Battlers who worked so hard to preserve this vital site for future generations.

It continues to be enjoyed by the community for recreation.

Video: Comedian Tim Ross shares his connection to the history and stories of Kelly’s Bush Park, his favourite local public space, in this episode of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Summer Night Walks series.

Video: One of the original ‘battlers’ Joan Croll reflects on the Battle for Kelly’s Bush. Produced by Philippa Croll, images by Annabel Croll, edited by Hamish Menses.

The area now known as Kelly’s Bush was inhabited by the Wallumedegal people.

In 1892, Kelly’s Bush was a tin smelting works owned by Thomas Kelly. The wood from the bush was used to fire the smelters.

In 1956, Weil Park was purchased by Council and the grass oval was created for sporting activities. In 1966, Council’s Town Clerk wrote to the NSW Government to acquire the land and create additional open space.

The smelter moved to Alexandria in 1967 and a developer purchased the land intending to build hundreds of residences there in multi-storey buildings. Council opposed the application and renewed the bid to acquire the area as open space through the State Planning Authority.

A group of residents who became known as the Battlers for Kelly’s Bush formed a committee in September of 1970, and worked with the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation (BLF) to find a solution.

On 17 June 1971, the BLF imposed the world’s first green ban to protect Kelly’s Bush following a meeting called by the Battlers that had more than 600 people in attendance.

In 1983, the then Premier Neville Wran bought the land and it was dedicated as a public reserve.

Kelly’s Bush has been in Council’s care and control since 1993 on a 99-year lease with the NSW Government.

Since 1995, the Friends of Kelly’s Bush have been undertaking bush care and regeneration activity every Monday from 8am to 10am.

 

From left to right: Miriam Hamilton, Chris Dawson, Betty James, Jo Bell, Judy Taplin, Jack Mundey, Kath Lehany, Monica Sheehan, Joan Croll – eight of the original 13 ‘Battlers’ celebrating the 25th anniversary of the world’s first Green Ban. Not present: Mary Farrell, Trude Kallir; Kathleen Chubb, Margaret Stobo, Marjorie Fitzgerald. (Sydney Morning Herald 15 June 1996)

While Kelly’s Bush is most commonly remembered as the site of the world’s first Green Ban, there are several other reasons for its significance as urban remnant bushland:

  • Kelly’s Bush is the most western area of bushland on Sydney Harbour – it is situated on the Parramatta River side of the Woolwich peninsula while other bushland areas are on the Lane Cove River side.
  • It is one of the few pieces of remnant bushland close to the Central Business District, its close proximity to Boronia Park and other bushland, making it a possible corridor for wildlife, and its pathways form part of the Great North Walk.
  • Its location means that Kelly’s Bush contains genetic variation in plant species that may not occur elsewhere, in addition, there are a number of uncommon plant species occurring in Kelly’s Bush.
  • There are several Indigenous sites including axe grinding grooves and middens.

Click the links to find out more about how you can enjoy Kelly’s Bush:

 

 

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Hunter’s Hill Council

22 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
PO Box 21, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
Tel: (02) 9879 9400

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