BY ALEC SMART
The City of Sydney plans to step up patrols around the immediate vicinity of the Anzac War Memorial and Pool of Reflection to deter skateboarding on the site – which many see as sacred – following complaints from War Memorial staff.
At a recent Council meeting in June, Councillor Christine Forster raised the issue, declaring “it is not an appropriate place to be skating. It is a major Anzac memorial and is supposed to be a place of quiet contemplation and reflection.”
Rangers can issue penalty notices of $110 to skateboarders over the age of 16 who defy instructions to leave the premises.
However, Cr Forster suggested a ‘move-along’ approach might be more effective, as no fines have been issued in the last 18 months, despite it being a popular space for skaters to converge and perform board tricks.
Mick, 33, a regular skater at the War Memorial, reveals he has, in the past, been fined by police for skating too close to the monument. Nevertheless, he remains unfazed by any new threat of eviction.
“My friends and I have been skating by the Memorial for over 20 years. I live nearby on Oxford Street, and I’ve skated here since I was 13. We ride on the flat ground by the pool because it’s a good area to perform tricks. We don’t do any damage and look out for other people in the park; we’re respectful,” he said.
Mick denies he has had any recent encounters with the Hyde Park rangers.
“They used to be very aggressive, chasing and tackling us if we weren’t fast enough running away. Now they’re more chilled, but I haven’t seen any this year.”
Fellow board riders Kenji, Mark and Luke, who also skate regularly by the Pool of Reflection, added that they had not encountered park rangers recently.
A sign erected by the Council to deter skaters was replaced after the original was defaced. Its substitute, which bears the message, ‘Do not skate around the Anzac Memorial or Pool of Reflection,’ has since had the word ‘skate’ scratched off.
Skaters facing a crackdown on riding by the Pool of Reflection might be appeased by the construction of an urban skating plaza in Sydney Park, near St Peters Station, approved by the City of Sydney Council on June 19. Incorporating grinding rails, ledges, a flow bowl up to three metres deep, a linear run and a beginners’ bowl, the park will be a veritable mecca for skaters of all skill levels.
On the downside, completion isn’t forecast until April 2019.