Draft Plan records history of Mackay Park lands

The draft Plan of Management for Mackay Park to be put before Eurobodalla Councillors for their consideration on Tuesday December 11th, 2018 offers some of the history of the land. The draft offers as a history: Prior to European settlement of the Batemans Bay area in the early 1800’s, the land was, and still is, Yuin country, inhabited by the Dhurga speaking Walbunja people for at least 20,000 years. Following European settlement, land at Mackay Park was granted as freehold land to Patrick O’Hehir and Thomas Flood in the 1870’s. The land remained in freehold private ownership until it was returned to the Crown and dedicated as public reserve. Part of the land was dedicated as Crown reserve in 1918 and the remainder in 1966. As Crown Reserve, the land has been used for many decades for a range of public recreation purposes, including lawn bowls, tennis, field sports, swimming, mini golf and passive recreation. With the exception of the land that was used for lawn bowls (which does not form part of this Plan of Management), it remains Crown land and continues to be used for public recreation purposes including field sports, swimming, mini golf and passive recreation. Council has been developing Mackay Park as a major events precinct over many years, including through the provision of event related infrastructure. Council is currently planning a new Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre at Mackay Park to replace the existing aging Batemans Bay pool. The land is also used for car parking associated with recreation activities and events, and as overflow parking for the Batemans Bay Town Centre in peak periods. Aboriginal History An Aboriginal Heritage Due Diligence Assessment was undertaken by NGH Environmental in September 2018 to inform the planning and design of the Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre proposed for Mackay Park. Based on a review of other Aboriginal heritage studies and assessments undertaken in the Batemans Bay region, the assessment report found that: Aboriginal people have utilised the resources of the South Coast hinterland and adjacent coast for the past 20,000 years (Boot 1996a, 1996b, 2000). Despite evidence for the Pleistocene occupation of the area at Burrill Lake, Bass Point and Wallen Wallen Creek, it is recognised that the majority of sites in the region date to within the last 5,000 years (Boot 1996a, 1996b). This however could be representative of a change in sea levels with the majority of the Pleistocene coastline no longer visible. The Pleistocene occupation is generally thought to have been sporadic and low intensity, reflecting the low population at the time. It was not until the mid-Holocene when sea levels reached their present level that we begin to see an increase in Aboriginal occupation of the region reflected in the archaeological record. (p.7) The assessment report included the following statement about the potential for Mackay Park to contain Aboriginal artefacts: The project area is bordered to the west and south by McLeods Creek and its associated estuarine swamp flats and marshlands. The McLeods Creek is a tributary of the Clyde River which is 700 m north of the project area. As such the project area is within 200 m of water, a landscape feature noted to generally have a high potential to contain Aboriginal sites. Based on previous studies, archaeological sites within the Batemans Bay region generally occur as shell middens, surface artefact scatters and isolated artefacts on relatively elevated landforms along the margins of the Clyde River and its tributaries. The prevalence of open context artefact sites (artefacts scatters and isolated finds) and shell midden sites in the areas adjacent to the Clyde River at Batemans Bay indicate that these areas were natural resource focus points that were extensively exploited by Aboriginal people. The desktop and landscape assessment therefore indicate that there are landscapes present, as defined by OEH and other archaeological survey results, that have the potential to contain Aboriginal sites. (p.10) A visual inspection of Mackay Park was carried out on 4 September 2018, with the following results: A single isolated find (AHIMS #58-4-1379/ Mackay Park IF 1) was identified within the project area. While no other surface evidence of Aboriginal objects was identified during the visual While no other surface evidence of Aboriginal objects was identified during the visual inspection of the project area a portion of the Mackay playing fields, specifically the natural subsurface sand layer under the fill deposit, was identified to have low to moderate archaeological potential. This sand layer would require subsurface testing to establish the archaeological potential and extent of any sites within the deposit if it was to be disturbed by the project. The archaeological potential of the Mackay Park playing fields is restricted to the natural subsurface deposit which is expected to be at least 20cm below the current ground surface. Additionally, the natural banks of the estuarine swamp flats and marshlands landscape boarding the site have been noted to have some potential for shell midden material to occur. The remaining area within the project area was deemed to be highly disturbed and to have negligible potential to contain Aboriginal objects. (p.1) European History

Lot 30 DP 755902 – Lot 30, as shown above, was granted to Patrick O’Hehir in 1876. The land was subsequently held in various ownership until 1916 when it was transferred to Duncan James Mackay, then to the Crown in 1917 and dedicated as Crown Reserve for Public Recreation in 1918. Eurobodalla Shire Council was granted care, control and management of the public reserve in 1950. It appears that the land was vacant (with no improvements [dwellings or other buildings] erected) prior to the dedication of the land to the Crown. It appears as though there may be an encroachment of shed buildings associated with the former Batemans Bay Bowling Club onto Lot 30, that will need to be confirmed by survey. Further, the internal access road to the parking area north of the ovals encroaches into the site of the former bowling club.

Lot 31 DP 755902 – Lot 31, as shown above, was granted to Thomas Flood in 1874. The land was subsequently held in various ownership until 1916 when it was transferred to Duncan James Mackay, then to William Wilshire in 1921, and through other private owners, before being granted to the Crown in 1966 and dedicated as a Crown Reserve for Public Recreation, with the exception of the area in pink which was dedicated to the Commissioner for Main Roads. It is understood that a dwelling and outbuildings were located on this site prior to the dedication of the land to the Crown. These buildings were demolished prior to the construction of the Batemans Bay Olympic Pool, which opened in December 1966.

Lot 259 DP 755902 – Lot 259, as shown above, was originally a road reserve between portions 30 and 31. The road reserve was formally closed and dedicated as Crown Reserve for Public Recreation in 1952. It appears that, prior to the closing of the road and dedication as public reserve, part of the land was already being used as “playing area” with some improvements erected on the land (such as “wooden frames for stalls”).

Images above sourced from HERE

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