Finding movement insights in Centennial Park

August 24, 2023

Centennial Park is one of Sydney’s premier open spaces, so how is it being used? Let’s analyse some spatial data to find out.

Officially opened in 1888, Centennial Park is home to 189 hectares of green space. Within the park, visitors can find curated gardens, sports fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, ponds and more. The park is around 5km from the Sydney CBD, and this close proximity makes it a popular destination year-round.

By analysing People Movement Data within the area of the park, we can uncover some insights into how the space is being used and who’s visiting it. So, let’s get into it.

Where are people going in the park?

By investigating movement activity and where people are spending more than 15 minutes on a granular level, we can get some insight into how Centennial Park gets used.

Base mapActivityDwells
These heatmaps show how people move (Activity) and where people linger (Dwells) for longer than 15 minutes.

The above map shows movement and dwells within the park using heatmaps.

We can quickly observe the differences between movement activity and dwell time, with plenty of people moving along the park’s walking tracks – particularly around its outer edges.

When we look at dwells within the park, we can see where people are congregating and spending their time. What we can observe is that there is significant activity around the Centennial Homestead – a restaurant, café and function centre – and to a lesser extent the Belvedere Amphitheatre, the sporting fields and the area around Federation Pavilion. It’s also evident that the park’s gardens, particularly the Rose Garden and the Column Garden, are getting regular use, as is the Wild Play Discovery Centre.

The data shows that the park’s designated attractions are receiving attention, while evidence of movement and dwells throughout the entire park show that the space is getting broader use as well.

Where are visitors coming from?

To better understand how the park is being used, let’s take a look at where people are coming from to reach it. We can do this by looking at trip data for the park, which gives us a breakdown of which suburbs people come from to arrive at Centennial Park.

Visitation to Centennial Park comes from a variety of suburbs around the area.

Out of trips more than 1km long to reach the park (this is to account for people walking through the park itself), we can find a wide spread of visitation from the surrounding areas. The highest visitation from the surrounding suburbs includes:

  1. 5.3% from Randwick
  2. 4.8% from Sydney CBD
  3. 4.5% from Bondi Junction
  4. 3.6% from Moore Park
  5. 2.7% from Paddington

The 4.8% of visitors coming from the city centre shows the utility and pulling power of a high-quality, inner-city open space, a fact that’s reinforced by the fact that 50% of visitors come from 28 suburbs around the region.

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When are people going to the park?

Visitors’ time of arrival can indicate when the park is busiest (and quietest) and, for Centennial Park, visitation is markedly different on weekdays and weekends.

  • On the weekend, morning activity is strong – almost 19% of visitors arrive between 8am-9am, compared to 11% on weekdays.
  • On weekdays, 22% of all visitors arrive between the hours of 4pm-6pm; this drops to 10% on weekends
  • In place of this afternoon weekday rush, 27% of visitors arrive between 12pm-3pm on weekends

The data suggests that Centennial Park has strong visitation across the entire week, with expected weekday peaks coming from the post-school, post-work period. Meanwhile, the weekend performs strongly in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon periods.

Centennial Park attracts visitors at different times on weekdays and weekends. Photo credit: @Sardaka (Creative Commons)

How long are they staying?

Using Planwisely's Length of Stay data, we can see how long people are visiting the park for. The median length of stay in the weekend’s busy mid-morning and mid-afternoon periods – from around 9am-3pm – is around 42 minutes. On weekdays, visitors are staying for around 35 minutes from 12pm-3pm, which is the busiest time period during the working week. Interestingly on weekdays, the 75th percentile of visitors stay for an average of 163 minutes between 6pm-9pm.

Overall, from the data we can see that Centennial Park gets consistent use across a typical week, with changes in peak times depending on whether it’s the weekend or a weekday. Visitors spend more time in the park on average during the weekend, but on weeknights the park retains visitors longer than any other time period. It pulls visitors from numerous surrounding suburbs, including Sydney CBD, and people are typically travelling less than 4km to reach it.

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