Area: 4.546 ha
The Rotary Athletic Field is part of an original grant to John Jones, part of which later came into the possession of SB Whatmore. Along the Lane Cove River in this area were wharves and boatsheds used mainly in transporting hardwood timber and sandstone needed for the early construction of buildings and bridges in Sydney.
Source: The West Ward of Willoughby by Nancy Booker and Ida Bennett 1988.
In 1961 the Rotary Club of Chatswood instigated the development of the Whatmore Estate and reclamation of part of the river foreshore as an athletic field for the training of track and field events. The Club contributed $27,000 over five years to the development and the field was opened in 1967 by the Governor of NSW, Sir Roden Cutler.
There is a double plate BBQ, 4 picnic tables and a park bench in a picnic area next to the river, and public toilets and a carpark (with one carspace reserved for people with disabilities adjacent to the Athletics Field).
To mark the centenary of Rotary International, The Rotary Club of Chatswood, the Council and the NSW Government constructed the Centenary Boardwalk, jetty and canoe launching facility on the Lane Cove River in 2005. There are rustic benches and interpretive features along the boardwalk through the mangrove forest. There is a smooth pathway from behind the amenities buildings to the BBQ, a picnic setting and the beginning of the wide boardwalk.
The totem pole (“Nepubai” 2007) at one entrance to the boardwalk was carved and designed by Shane Haurama, a local indigenous artist. It pays homage to the original inhabitants of the Northern Sydney region and the significance of water in Aboriginal life, and is connected to the artist’s familial lineage and their two main totems the shark and saltwater crocodile. See below for more information.
Walking tracks along the river and into the adjacent bushland of Mowbray Park and the Lane Cove River Valley are accessible from the reserve.
Nepubai - Shane Huarama, 2007
The totem pole comprises five sections using four colours. Each section and colour refers to an aspect of Haurama’s cultural heritage as a descendent of the Raw-raw people from Yule Island in Torres Strait. The water or sea plays an integral part in the lives of these people and the carving of totems to represent this natural resource is commonplace in this region.
Haurama sought guidance from his uncle in the Torres Strait Islands as well as his mother to ensure that the totem pole remained true to the traditional style and use of symbols.
The top section painted in yellow and shaped like a sail represents the rainy season and the importance of the trade winds and trading in the Torres Strait Islands.
Red Circular Band
The red section below the yellow sail is the place where traditionally the tribal hieroglyphs or clan markings are placed, referring to ownership. In this case Shane has deliberately left this section devoid of markings as respect to the original owners of this land.
Black and White section
The black section with the white spiky obtrusions refers to the salt water crocodile. As a source of both power and food, the salt water crocodile is a key totem for the people from Yule Island.
White Triangles on Black
The elongated white sections on a black background represent shark teeth. The shark is another key totem in the Yule Island region.
The Natural Base
Traditionally this bottom section would be painted in red and covered in white dots. The dots represent each family member, however in this case Shane has left this section unpainted as it does not refer to his family but pays respect to the original inhabitants of this area.