Map of Australia and Water Features, Wilson Park, Lawson
Wilson Park at Lawson is across the road from the Lawson pool. Within the Park is a large, much-loved concrete map of Australia, a small bridge and associated water features. The map was constructed in the 1930s at a precise scale of 75 miles to 1 foot. It was designed by then Shire President, Percy Wilson, and authenticated by Professor J. McDonald Holmes, Department of Geography, Sydney University.
Records indicate that it was carved out of natural rock by a local builder, Frank Higgison (who later died as a POW in Sandakan, North Borneo).
The map accurately included capital cities, state boundaries, rivers, and mountain ranges. The map was surrounded by water and the colours used on the map responded to regulation colours in school atlases.
The map and associated water features were unveiled on 12th May 1932 during an event attended by local dignitaries and 100 school children from the nearby Stratford Girls School. An impressive photo was taken with the school children, residents and attending dignitaries, who gathered around the map and the bridge.
Over the years the map and water features deteriorated extensively. The colours were no longer visible on the map and the surrounding water was choked with weeds. About ten years ago concerned residents signed a petition to save the map and water features.
The restoration was delayed by COVID, and the first restoration was destroyed by floods. However, a good result did eventuate, and restoration was completed in 2023. The new works include bridge repairs, stonework and channel restoration, cleaning of the map, (where no chemicals were used), groundwater management and interpretive signage.
The colours on the map have only been cleaned with water and no further colouring has been added to the original. The works cost Blue Mountains City Council $100,000 and the map is now listed on the Local Environment Plan.
The restoration work was launched on 28th October 2023 by Mayor Mark Greenhill OAM along with Deputy Mayor Romola Hollywood, other councillors, the council staff who led the restoration work and interested residents. The historic photo from the opening event in 1932 was recreated, this time in colour. Unfortunately, the number of children present in 2023 did not exceed the number in the original photo taken in 1932.
Published in “HERITAGE”, the newsletter of the Blue Mountains Association of Cultural Heritage Organisations for January-February 2024
(The main photograph shows the original photograph of 1932 and the one taken after restoration in 2023. Photo: Blue Mountains City Council)
(Note: This unique feature would be well worth a visit if you pass through the area, or even worth a special outing. However, it is important to note that the map is fragile, and visitors are asked not to step onto it so that it remains the rare surviving example of a larger-scale map integrated into a public recreation reserve.}