Located in the heart of Orange’s main shopping and business area, Robertson Park offers space for quiet recreation next to a busy retail zone.
The collection of established trees and grassed open spaces is popular with locals and visitors who pass through Orange on the Mitchell Highway (Summer Street) Street which borders the park.
The beauty of the park sees it chosen as a venue for high-profile community events such as the night markets during Orange’s major food and wine festivals.
The cenotaph at the southern end of the park is a focus for community commemorations such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.
When Orange’s streets were first laid out in 1846 more than 14% of the ‘square mile’ was devoted to parks and public open space but 30 years passed before Council had the funds to develop them.
Robertson Park, named after the NSW Premier, Sir James Robertson, was dedicated in 1887 and planted with shady trees. The park was judged to be so vital to the city’s central business district the council made a serious effort to develop it in 1892 by creating walks and providing seating.
Blackmans Swamp Creek originally crossed the park diagonally. In 1887 the project of concreting the bed of the creek began. The creek overflowed periodically, causing much damage to properties near Lords Place. The channel was completed in 1893 and roofed over in 1937.
The marble fountain close to the Summer Street side of the park was donated by Cobb and Co in 1896, in honour of William Franklin Whitney, one of the partners in the firm. It is said to have been paid for by docking the wages of the employees.
The first bowling club in Orange was established in Robertson Park in 1900 with the existing CWA Hall operating as the club pavilion. In 1913 club members were described as enthusiastic and skilled players ‘and it would be a poor heart which could not find rest and enjoyment in watching the competing games’.
In 1927 the ornate entrance gates on the northern side of Robertson Park were moved to Cook Park and installed at the corner of Summer Street and Sampson Street. Over the years, the park became an important location for war memorials and remembrance services. The Cenotaph was built in 1952 and since then it has been the focus for Anzac Day .
In recent years, Robertson Park has become a popular civic space for community celebrations such as the night markets for FOOD Week and the Orange Wine Festival.
Beneath the park
One of the first major developments to happen in Robertson Park in the late 1800s, was to concrete the bed of Blackmans Swamp Creek which ran through the park.
Eventually, the creek bed was turned into a stormwater channel and positioned well below ground level so that it could be covered over completely.
In November 2015 the maintenance project of re-placing the steel girders that support the channel roof, shed light on this little known underground channel.