Cook Park

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Cook Park C 1920 with the James Dalton Fountain and the Bandstand in the background

Following agitation from John Arthur Templer the site of Cook Park was purchased and reserved for public recreation in 1873. Named after Captain James Cook it was laid out by 1885, but was not much frequented. It lay in its wilderness state of grasses and weeds until 1888 when it was laid out with ordered lawns, colourful flowerbeds; gravel walkways and a conservatory filled with choice plants. Alfred Andrew Patterson was the inaugural head gardener of Cook Park until he was pilfered by a deputation from Bathurst Council, resigning in April 1890. During his time as caretaker a lake was excavated.

The following year the fountain was donated by James Dalton. Two rustic pavilions were built and garden seats were installed as a gift to the townspeople. Cook Park has long been known as one of the popular parks of Orange, where residents and visitors relax, have birthday parties or family outings. The Town Band Committee decided to build a band stand in Cook Park and was opened in 1908 in the presence of 1500 people..

In 1912 the Orange Leader reported that originally a bell was rung at 7pm as a signal for everyone to leave the park. When closing was extended to 9pm considerable mischief was being wrought and there was ‘great difficulty in clearing people out of the park … one pair would not go’!

In 1927 the ornate entrance gates at Robertson Park were moved to Cook Park and installed at the corner of Summer Street and Sampson Street. By 1928 there were 'wire netted runs, in which run kangaroos, emus and a stately brolga' and in the 1930s an aviary was added.

W C Curran, a local storekeeper, claimed to have been the first in town to cultivate begonias and Mayor Alfred William Blowes, becoming interested in them, instigated the building of the Begonia House in c1933. In 1938 both the Mullholland Memorial Garden, named after Frank J Mullholland, and the fernery and sunken garden (which replaced the small lake) were dedicated.The stone in the sunken garden was taken from the historic Orange Court House when it was renovated.

  • Miller, J., Holmes, D., and Honey, A. 2001, Orange a vision splendid, Orange City Council, Orange NSW.
  • Orange Blossoms 2009, Orange City Council, Orange NSW.
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