The establishment of Correy’s Pleasure Gardens in the 1880s made Cabarita a special picnic destination for Sydney-siders in the nineteenth century.
In 1891 the Australian Town and Country Journal extolled the delights of Cabarita:
‘This beautiful spot is a favourite picnic ground for the residents of Sydney, who are justly proud of the magnificent scenery that is to be found in the vicinity of their city.
The journey to Parramatta by rail is an agreeable one, affording ample variety of scenery to amuse the traveller, but the trip up the river by steamer forms one of the most delightful water excursions that any city can boast of. As the steamer proceeds on its way some pretty suburbs are touched at. Passing Drummoyne and Hunter’s Hill the green covered banks on either side disclose to the visitor a constant succession of beautiful scenes, and the windings of the river as they are followed bring into view at every turn some new charm to delight the eye. A little way beyond Gladesville, but on the opposite bank, Cabarita Point, the spot depicted in our illustration, is situated.
At intervals on the river’s banks, pretty boathouses and rustic-looking piers help to give variety to the scene, while the river is dotted here and there with rowing enthusiasts in their out riggers and light skiffs, and graceful sailing yachts slowly gliding over the smooth waters.’
Music, dancing and picnics have always been enjoyed at Cabarita Park.
From the 1880s until World War 1, a focus of the park was Correy’s Pleasure Gardens operated on land adjacent to Cabarita Park. The pleasure ground was established by Thomas Obed Correy, who had previously owned gardens at Botany in the 1870s. Correy brought plants, flowers, shrubs and trees to Cabarita and provided swings, merry-go-rounds, a cricket field, a running track, summer houses, and from 1887, a dance pavilion, which was a great attraction for the many social and sporting clubs that held their annual picnics at the grounds.
The dance pavilion could accommodate up to 900 people who would be entertained by a ten piece string orchestra. Daytime dances were popular until gas replaced the kerosene lamps and evening dinners and dances became increasingly popular making the pleasure gardens one of Sydney’s leading recreational resorts.
During the World War I, Correy’s Pleasure Gardens declined in popularity and was eventually sold in 1918.
Correy’s Pleasure Gardens are one of many stories of Cabarita highlighted in a new Breakfast Point and Cabarita Park education kit now available on the City of Canada Bay web page. For more images of Correy’s Gardens see our flickr set.