What’s left today
When AMC walked the track in early 2014, we found it remarkably intact, albeit affected by a landslide and fallen trees. Whoever laid the surface over half a century ago should be building roads today, as the full 2.2km of bitumen is in relatively good condition considering its neglect.
The circuit is lined by twisted, rusty Armco and dilapidated wooden fences that add to the place’s nostalgic, slightly spooky atmosphere. As do signs (quite literally) of its racing past, as shown here on these pages.
Not that everyone celebrates the time when motor racing came to Frank Walford Park, however. A section of the circuit’s infield has been beautified by Council in collaboration with the Gully Traditional Owners, an entity with the acronym, ironically, of GTO. The ‘interpretive walk’ in The Gully tells the history of the site and the display boards make it clear that the construction of the circuit caused much trauma for the local indigenous community.
“Homes and bushland were destroyed,” one display board outlines. “Bulldozers gouged through the aquifer and destroyed the original spring. The loss was extremely difficult for The Gully people and their friends to comprehend.”
Enquiries to Council in recent years by motor racing enthusiasts keen to hold ‘Return to Catalina Park’ activities, involving putting cars on track for the first time in two decades, have been declined.
On one hand that’s disappointing. However, it’s also true that respecting the GTO’s wishes has helped preserve what remains of the venue’s racing past. And is likely to do so long into the future. A walk around the track is increasingly a must-do stopover for racing folk making the pilgrimage to Bathurst from Sydney. It’s about halfway, so it’s a great way to break up the trip.