IT has been a place where Aboriginal people resolved feuds, the site of some of the country's earliest coal mining and, at one stage, even a private "pleasure garden" for the city's top military commandant.
Now, the historical significance of King Edward Park appears set to be formally recognised, with the NSW Heritage Council recommending it be added to state heritage registers.
The listing would also cover Obelisk park and tennis courts, Arcadia park, Fletcher park and the headland.
The final decision will rest with Heritage Minister Gabriel Upton, but the news was welcomed by historians at the University of Newcastle, who have been fighting to achieve the heritage protection for nearly a decade.
"It's been a long time coming," said Dr Ann Hardy, who collaborated on the nomination with her colleague, archivist Gionni Di Gravio and the late Dr Robert Evans.
The proposal was first put forward in 2008, but the Heritage Council found more work was required.
Parts of the reserve - including the Bogey Hole and the military installations - are already heritage-listed, but Dr Hardy said this blanket listing would protect the entire precinct.
"This captures the importance of the area and its layers of history over time,” she said.
An Aboriginal land claim over the park, lodged in 2012, has not been determined by the state government.
Awabakal chief executive Rob Russell said it was unclear what effect a potential heritage-listing might have on the land council’s plans.
However it is understood any “major changes” to the park would require approval from the Heritage Council if the listing went ahead.
Development on the headland is already facing extra hurdles, after Newcastle council voted in May to initiate planning changes that would prevent a function centre being built on the former bowling club site.
Hunter director of the Property Council, Andrew Fletcher, said industry would “broadly” support a heritage listing to preserve the precinct for future generations. But he qualified that he would not like to see a heritage listing prevent development on the headland.
“It’s a shame for the former bowling club site to sit there derelict … I think it’s unlikely to have any heritage value, that particular parcel,” Mr Fletcher said.
Friends of King Edward Park president Dr Kim Ostinga said the listing could help preserve a “beautiful and wonderful” community asset.
“In this modern age … where economic rationalism is ruling everything, anything that’s not being occupied or used all the time is fair game for developers,” he said.