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"Poor decisions in the 1970s" leave Cook Park in need of major overhaul: café, toilet pods, fencing

July 1, 2022

Cook Park and (inset) an artist's impression of the "folly". Copyright: Orange News Examiner/supplied.

By David Fitzsimons

A café would be set up in Orange’s iconic Cook Park as part of major changes proposed to bring the site into the 21st century.

The park’s controversial aviary would also be removed or re-sited, the toilet block would be demolished and replaced by small toilet pods scattered throughout the park, and a new "folly" building with a café would be created on the edge of the duck ponds.

Other changes include:

* Making flowers and plants in the heritage propagating building visible to people outside the structure and;

* Installing a heritage-style fence on the Sampson Street side and clearing all works-related buildings away from Bastick Cottage, near Summer Street.

The begonias in Cook Park. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

The latest conservation management plan for the nearly 170-year-old park will go before Orange City Council’s next meeting on Tuesday night.

It says while council has spent a lot of money and time updating the park, more is needed.

“There are aspects of the park that have been neglected for years,” it says.

The report says a café could provide a focus for tourists at the ornamental lakes.

“In the short-term this might be a mobile pack-up coffee shop to test the viability,” it says.

“If successful then the folly should be something picturesque and memorable to add to the experience of visiting the park.”

Encyclopedia Britannica describes a folly as "a costly, generally nonfunctional building that was erected to enhance a natural landscape ... depending on the designer’s or owner’s tastes, a folly might be constructed to resemble a medieval tower, a ruined castle overgrown with vines, or a crumbling Classical temple complete with fallen, eroded columns".

The report says “some poor decisions from the 1970s” needed to be fixed to update the park for modern tourist needs.

Cook Park on Australia Day 2022. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

That includes opening up the area around Bastick Cottage by removing all works buildings, the toilets and potentially the aviary.

It says a new western-side access route could be created for service works.

“At present the aviary is blocking the western axis,” it says.

“We recommend the aviary can either be re-orientated to an east-west alignment along the north side of the service arm and the structure re-purposed or the structure could be removed altogether.”

It is also proposed that part of the Bastick Cottage building be opened up for selling books and items explaining the history of Cook Park, which dates back to 1854, and its significant trees.

Plans for a café in the park and removing the aviary are not new, with a search of the archives revealing similar proposals 10 years ago, but so far they have not happened.



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