By Cathy Jones
The land on which Freshwater Park Strathfield is located was considered unsuitable for building by the developers of the Strathlea Estate in the late 1920s due to frequent flooding from the Cooks River, which runs through the park.
Former Strathfield Council Town Clerk James Matthews described Freshwater Park as a “veritable no man’s land’ along the Cooks River. It was subject to frequent flooding and was in every respect a most unattractive site. So unattractive was it that its owners when sub-dividing the nearby land, asked the Council if it would care for the land for park purposes. The Council accepted it and later added to the land by purchasing a number of allotments abutting on it” (Matthews 1993).
The developers transferred part of the Strathlea Estate to Council ownership and over time, Council purchased additional land which expanded the size of the park. The park was formally dedicated in 1929 by Council and named in honour of William Freshwater, Strathfield Council’s head gardener from 1887 to 1929. The Mayor Alderman John Robert Firth stated in a Mayoral Minute of 12 February 1929:
“I further recommend that the land along Cooks River be handed over to this Council by the vendors of the Strathlea Estate and be named Freshwater Park in honour of W. Freshwater’s 42 years service with this Council”
In October 1931, the Strathfield Golf Club was formed with the intention of establishing a golf course in Freshwater Park. The Golf Club negotiated an agreement with Strathfield Council for the use of 37 acres of Freshwater Park on the understanding that ‘no respectable resident or ratepayer be refused admission to the Club’ (Innes 1988: 161). The first Golf course of 9 holes was laid down by golf professional Will Cory and following acquisition of additional land from NSW Government Railways in 1933, the course was extended to 18 holes in 1934. The 18 hole course was designed by professional golf architect and local resident, Tommy Howard.
The majority of the park is occupied by the Golf Course, there are publicly accessible areas of Freshwater Park. A section of Freshwater Park, facing Ada Avenue, was set aside for a public park which included a children’s playground, a junior sports ground and seating.
Another area facing Yarrowee Road features an artificial wetland called “Yarrowee Wetland” which was constructed in 2010 to provide filtration of stormwater pollutants prior to entering the Cooks River.
The Bay to Bay cycle way and pedestrian pathway runs through the park.
Innes, D, 1988, The Story of Golf in NSW
Strathlea Estate Subdivision poster 1930. Sub-divided by Arthur Rickard & Co Ltd.
Strathfield Council Minutes 1929
Oral history of James Matthews, Town Clerk of Strathfield [1938-1966], p3