Prince visits and war relics: history parked at Memorial
HOME to all but two ANZAC ceremonies and located in the middle of town, Memorial Park has been the community heart of Gympie.
In celebration of the city's 150th birthday, we are pleased to be able to bring you a look into the history of an iconic part of our region.
Designed in 1919, while the park was not officially opened until shortly before ANZAC Day in 1921 it was in use much earlier, hosting a visit from the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) on August 3, 1920.
Although the site is now central to the Gympie community, it was not the originally proposed location for what was to be the memorial park.
Queens Park was the originally proposed site before a new location was sought, and the site of the old Union Sawmill was chosen instead.
Surrounded by a fence until the late 30s, the park's iconic wrought iron gatework was done by Gympie-based J.K. Coombe and Sons.
The bandstand (not a rotunda as it is often called) and flower beds are original to the park's design and are still standing to this day, as are many of the trees which were selected specifically for their ability to grow in the Gympie climate. The greenhouse was built in 1950.
Two air raid shelters were also located at the park during the Second World War, and they were filled in after it ended.
Memorial Park was also home to a number of "war trophies”, German-built field guns which had been used on the Western Front in the First World War.
They were reportedly popular among children; in particular, a game of chicken involving swinging the cannon down towards their hands which were placed underneath the barrel.
Understandably, they were removed in 1946 after a child had the tip of his finger crushed and amputated.