The first planting by the Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Groves Project was on 15 May 1994. South Sydney Council at the time believed we may have been a one-off event, but as time went on and the Groves became a fixture at the Park, South Sydney Council provided signs - as shown above - at each end of the then current planting areas in about 1996.
On 30 July 2006 SPAIDS had its 32nd planting in the now well-defined area of the Park, designated the AIDS Memorial Grove. On that day and the days following during the next week, the signs were in their usual place and demarcated the Grove.
On 25 November 2006, on a visit to the Park, the SPAIDS co-coordinators noticed that the signs had vanished. Our first thoughts were that the signs had been vandalised, and on our return to Melbourne a few days later, we contacted those we had dealt with from South Sydney Parks department, now working for Sydney City Council, which absorbed South Sydney City Council as it was dissolved by the NSW State Government.
The correspondence below is what has followed since then:
Thanks for looking after our July 2006 planting, which, as ever, went very well with a record number turning up on the day.
We visited the park just after the planting, two days later, and everything looked promising provided there was some rain.
They have been there for about 10 years without being damaged in any way, and we wondered why they have disappeared.
We hope you can enlighten us and that there will be signage erected again soon to show where the AIDS Grove section is in the park.
Today is World AIDS Day and it is a pity the signs are missing at this stage.
Hope to hear good news soon.
Thanks again for all your help.
Mannie and Ken, SPAIDS co-coordinators.
Dear Mannie & Ken,
I have forwarded your email onto the person who can help you most regarding the signage.
Dear Mannie and Ken
I have been forwarded your email about this sign.
The sign was temporary and was deteriorating, and removed in September. There is a plaque and designated area of reflection here to recognise AIDS victims and Council will maintain this important community memorial. The plaque is an appropriate acknowledgement, and also ensures that signs do not dominate the landscape and detract from the natural elements of Sydney Park. Apologies that this removal has caused distress.
Parks Trees and Recreation
Thank you for your feedback about our signs at Sydney Park.
Firstly there were two signs, both of which have been removed.
Secondly, when we saw them in August they were not deteriorating. They were to be temporary and were to be removed when new signage was completed for the park.
No one entering the Park is now able to see where the AIDS Groves are unless they had previously visited the Park and knew where our trees had been planted.
The plaque is not in a prominent position and there is no indication of its existence.
Our signs had not ever been vandalised in all the years they were there, whereas some new signs near one of the lakes have already been damaged.
We expect something better than this from Sydney City Council which is now responsible for the maintenance of Sydney Park.
It was never anticipated that signs would dominate the landscape, but Council has signs telling people what they may or may not do in the park. Do these signs dominate the landscape?
There are NO AIDS "victims" - this terminology is offensive and we do not use it. Preference is for people with HIV/AIDS.
Removal of the signs has not only caused distress, it has also caused annoyance, and we anticipate their replacement as soon as possible so that the Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Groves (SPAIDS) retain their prominence in the Park which we have helped to plant with trees over the last 12 years, with the help of many people who have been there on community planting days.
Mannie and Ken - SPAIDS founders and co-coordinators
Just to fill you in on the latest about our signage. We have lots of work to do!!
Mannie and Ken
Dear Mannie and KenI am responding to your email on behalf of Pat. Sydney Park is in the area of Parks that I look after.
Firstly, let me apologise for the distress and annoyance that the removal of the sign has caused especially after the contribution the organisation has made to the park. The master plan for Sydney Park (page 10) encompasses a section on signage which has identified areas where interpretative signage will be installed. I have attached a copy for you.Sydney Park Detailed Master Plan Endorsed
I have been in contact with the project manager who is implementing the master plan for Sydney Park and have ensured that new SPAIDS signage will be installed at the groves when new signage is installed through out the park. The city will ensure that it liaises with SPAIDS when the signage is reinstalled. Please feel free to call me about this if required.
Contracts Coordinator, City of Sydney Council.
Wednesday, 13 December 2006.
From: Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Groves
Co-coordinators: Mannie De Saxe & Kendall Lovett.
Your conciliatory email regarding our disappointment and annoyance over the removal of the explanatory SPAIDS signs in Sydney Park without reference to us was appreciated but did little to console us.
If past experience is any guide your statement that "the city will ensure that it liaises with SPAIDS when the signage is reinstalled" remains simply a statement before the fact. We assume that you mean the Green Way Finding Marker (6D) indicated on the page 10 map, beside the SPAIDS Reflection Area. What about the Orange Visitor Information Sign (4B) indicated near a Barwon Park Road entrance below the SPAIDS Reflection Area and beside some of the SPAIDS Groves? Will it contain the information provided on SPAIDS signs that have been removed? After all, the pattern of the city so far has been for contact after the fact which doesn't augur well for fulfilment of your statement especially as it emanates from another source or sources.
As a matter of fact it concerns us that in the main Master Plan Overview and Components (pages 1&2) there is no mention whatever of the SPAIDS Reflection Area and Memorial Groves. It?s as though neither has ever existed. We note that the "Master Plan has been revised in consultation with the community." What "community" and how? Surely, SPAIDS is entitled to recognition on the plan. It has a unique identity in a Sydney park and in this park has been in a prominent position on the central hillside for years. Honestly, the city does not get our vote for reliability in consulting with SPAIDS or for that matter with a community. Despite Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore having planted a tree beside the Reflection Area only in July last year, we could well believe that homophobia may be entertained by some people in other positions in Council.
From our point of view, it is unlikely that the signage will be in place before the New Year when lots of new people on holidays will visit Sydney Park. Because the SPAIDS signs have been removed, they will be unaware of SPAIDS existence unless they reach the Reflection Area by accident.
Therefore, we request that the old signs be replaced before Christmas. They should remain until the new signage is in place which even you must agree is unlikely at this stage to occur under three months.
Mannie and Ken - SPAIDS founders and co-coordinators.
Dear Mannie and Ken
I am pleased to advise that the signs at the SPAIDS memorial groves have been installed. They have been installed in the same locations as the temporary signs were located. I have included a copy of the final draft of the sign for your information which includes the added wording as suggested by yourselves.
Photos taken by Lenore Bassan on 19 March 2007 of new permanent SPAIDS signage erected in the same positions as the original temporary signs
This is a satellite view of the Park showing the SPAIDS Memorial Groves section. Look for Barwon Park Road in the larger version of the illustrated map above this satellite view to pinpoint the SPAIDS section.
This photo was taken on 24 October 2018 with many others of the SPAIDS Groves by Marian De Saxe to show how the Groves have developed since the first plantings on 15 May 1994. We have yet to identify the placing of this new sign, and we will put the information on this site when the information comes to hand. We were very pleased to discover that Sydney City Council is keeping signage up to date considering the NSW State government's destruction of many areas around Sydney Park and also involving parts of the Park. The State government needs to be condemned in the strongest terms for polluting one of the few lungs left for residents of inner Sydney to enjoy.
Photo by Marian De Saxe
of the Groves
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This page updated 12 MAY 2014 and again on 11 JULY 2021