Visitors to Forbes would find a visit to Victoria Park in the centre of town most rewarding. With its Rotunda, Boy in Serpent Fountain and impressive gardens, it is an ideal spot for a picnic or a moment of reflection. It is also a great spot to admire the beautiful buildings surrounding the Park on three sides including the Town Hall, Forbes Court House, the Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church and the Vandenberg Hotel.
The history of the square dates to the 1860’s when the area was in the middle of the Lachlan Gold-Field. A visit at that time would reveal canvas tents housing thousands of miners seeking their fortune in and around the township. It was then known as the Court House reserve due to the Court House being located nearby.
During the 1870’s the area was proclaimed as an area for public recreation and named Forbes Square with tree plantings and the establishment of lawns. In 1879, Forbes Square underwent a change of name to Victoria Square presumably after the reigning monarch.
The 1880’s saw the addition of the first band rotunda on the same spot as the existing rotunda. In 1887, Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales and one of the founding fathers of federation, addressed a gathering of 2000 people in the Square from the balcony of the Vandenberg Hotel (previously known as the Court House Hotel).
The “Boy In Serpent Fountain” was added in 1891 following its purchase from the Coalbrookdale cast iron foundary of England. It was donated by the Mayor at the time, William Thomas who was also a wealthy local businessman and land owner. It depicts a cherub wrestling with a snake in reference to the legend of Laocoon.
Victoria Park underwent significant beautification in the late 1920’s with the involvement of Thomas Kerr from the Sydney Botanical Gardens. At the time the park and the fountain were fenced to prevent access by livestock. One of the suggested improvements was the removal of the fencing. His input is evident today with several Canary Island Palms providing shade and a refuge for birds.
Victoria Park has long been and continues to be the hub of Forbes for all sorts of activities and is a source of significant enjoyment for residents and visitors alike. It is also a great spot to let your mind travel back in time and imagine how the area now occupied by Victoria Park would have been during the gold field days. And how it may have been prior to white settlement.
Thanks to Forbes Shire Council and the Forbes Family History Group.
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