Poppies bloom in High Cross Park following the completion of Light Rail construction

6 November 2019

Large red poppies have sprung up in Randwick’s newly reopened High Cross Park as part of an art installation by Randwick City Council and Transport for NSW to commemorate Remembrance Day.

The artwork coincides with the completion of light rail work in the park to build an underground substation and the reopening of the park to the public.

Sitting along Avoca Street, the installation features a row of large bright red poppies and words from the moving poem “In Flanders Field” written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor in the First World War.

The artwork was installed on Monday 28 October and will be on display for three weeks including Remembrance Day.

Recognised as a significant landmark in Randwick, High Cross Park is valuable green space with a war memorial providing a little oasis in the town centre.

Transport for NSW Coordinator General Marg Prendergast said it was great to see High Cross Park restored and reopened for the community to enjoy.

“The beautiful red poppy artwork that we’ve worked together with Randwick Council to install is a fitting way to mark the completion of light rail work in the park especially in the lead up to Remembrance Day,” she said.

“I hope everyone living and working around Randwick has a chance to visit High Cross Park and view the installation before it’s removed.”

With the artwork located across from Prince of Wales Hospital, General Manager Jennie Barry said the bright blooms would undoubtedly catch the eye of people coming to the medical precinct.

“The artwork looks fantastic, and will be enjoyed by many staff and visitors to Prince of Wales Hospital,” she said.

“It is also historically significant to our hospital given we were the military repatriation and rehabilitation hospital during both World War 1 and World War 2”

Randwick Mayor Danny Said thanked the community for their patience during light rail construction and encouraged residents to visit the reopened park.

“High Cross Park is an important green space and is well used by local workers, residents and hospital visitors,” he said.

“I’m very pleased Council has been able to work cooperatively with Transport for NSW to relocate the originally proposed terminus from the park and to also underground a large substation beneath the park. This has preserved the space for the continued use of the community for future generations.”

During light rail construction, a World War II air raid shelter was uncovered during excavations at the park – remnants of the park’s historical significance. The raid shelter formed a part of the defence system of air raid shelters and zig-zagging anti-aircraft trenches which were dug into open places such as parks. At the end of the war, the shelters and trenches were often backfilled, including this discovery at High Cross Park. 

When finalising the final design of the CBD and South East Light Rail, the location of the Randwick Terminus (the stop at the end of the Randwick Line) that was initially planned for High Cross Park was relocated to High Street, enabling improved flow of traffic around the local area and saving the park.

Transport for NSW and Randwick Council negotiated to build a light rail substation underground through innovative ventilation designs meaning space in High Cross Park could be retained and visual impacts minimised for the benefit of the community.

The final stages of work in High Cross Park involved energising the substation. This was completed and the park handed back under the care of Randwick Council last month.

The poppy artworks were developed by Transport for NSW and installed near Martin Place for the Centenary of Armistice Day last year to reflect on the sacrifices of service women and men.