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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Day 6; Glebe IV

Looking through aerial shots of Canberra from 1950 (image 1) when Glebe House still existed till today (image 6), it seems the shortsightedness of demolishing Glebe House also extended to its grounds. The area was left derelict as seen in image 2 and 3 (aerial shots from 1968 and 1972, retrospectively) and it wasn’t until 1983 (image 4) after a community campaign to save the trees that the grounds of the old rectory was proclaimed as a park, and listed as a heritage site by the National Trust of Australia (ACT) and the Australian Heritage Commission. By this time the area was certainly in dire straits and being utilized as an overflow car park. During the mid-80s the southern end of civic, consisting of Glebe Park, was developed with the construction of the National Convention Centre, office towers, a hotel and the casino built around it. Glebe Park as we know it today - fencing, foot paths, gates, a rotunda, gardens - isn’t much older then I am, having only been completed in 1989 (image 5; 1990). I have only one memory of Glebe Park as a child - and rightly so, as the luscious green park was not the safe recreational grounds we know and adore today - and I would have been about six or seven years old. I remember it being a warm sunny afternoon when we visited and embedded in my mind is the fencing: I was completely mesmerised by the metal and stone towering over, which seemed so unworldly compared to other parks in Canberra and straight from a movie scene. I don’t recall ever visiting Glebe Park again until I moved into Reid in 2015 (even having worked right next door at Crowne Plaza Hotel during University). Since then I have watched the gentrification of Reid have a profound impact on Glebe Park, which used to have a high crime rate and hold the reputation of a drug dealing; it was certainly not a place to visit after sunset. In 2017, I held my birthday in the park and at the time I remember being pleasantly surprised on how many other people were enjoying and utilizing the magnificent grounds.