Centennial Parklands honoured Kurt Fearnley OAM at a special ceremony yesterday, recognising him for his global sporting contribution and connection to Centennial Park as a visitor and sports user.

Fearnley Grounds is the now the official name of the Park’s new visitor hub.

Already a popular area for families utilising its picnics areas, playground and barbecue, Fearnley Grounds was identified in the Centennial Park Master Plan 2040 – through many years of visitor surveys and consultation – as an area of deficiency in the Park’s current facilities and services.

To meet the community’s needs the Parklands propsed Stage One of the South West Hub project in 2014 to deliver improved amenities, upgraded accessibility and new services to this busy part of the Park. The concept was inspired by a small combined kiosk and cyclist pavilion (the site of today’s Centennial Parklands Dining) that existed and operated in Centennial Park from 1908 to 1946 before it was destroyed by fire.

Works on the new hub commenced in early 2015 and through a public naming competition, Kurt Fearnley’s name was proposed as the winning name of the precinct for its connection with cycling and resonation with the Parklands’ values.

“Many elite athletes have trained and competed here over the years but it was Kurt’s passion and the inspiration he embodies as a disability advocate for so many Australians that saw his name proposed through our public naming competition,” said Mark Speakman, Minister for the Environment.

“With one of the world’s most diverse user groups, Centennial Park is enjoyed and utilised by people of many backgrounds. I have personally watched Kurt train and compete here over the years and I think he is very deserving of this honour.” said Kim Ellis, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands.

“The South West Hub project not only connects our park visitors through improved facilities and amenities but eventually all of Sydney with a wider program to create a new entranceway to Centennial Park near Fearnley Grounds linking Grand Drive to the forthcoming light rail station on Alison Road. Stage Two of the project will include a major upgrade to the Children’s Learners Cycleway and the Children’s Playground adjacent to this site.”

In response Kurt Fearnley said “It is an absolute honour to have a precinct in Centennial Park named after me. The Parklands holds a very special place in my heart – it is where I go to train, to think, to cycle and to breathe. We are very fortunate to have a space like Centennial Park in the heart of Sydney and I commend the Parklands efforts to ensure the Park’s offerings are sustainable, practical and beneficial for all to experience them.”

Fearnley Grounds now features a new café, The Greenhouse Centennial Park, and permanent home to the Parklands existing bike hire business, Centennial Park Cycles. In addtion the Parklands upgraded the free public barbeque areas and accessible pathways plus installed a new picnic shelter.

By Centennial Parklands

Posted: 19/1/2015