Moruya Showground History

The Moruya Showground is part of a Crown Land Trust. The Property IdentificationShowground Number is 11876. The Lot number is 7035 and the Deposited Plan (DP) number is 1029448. It is bound by Murray, John, Albert and Evans Streets. The property has been called different names over the years Reserve for Public Recreation, Town Recreation Reserve and Moruya Park. It was Dedicated on the 2nd October 1866. It has part reserves, dedication DP 758710, Moruya Golf Course and Moruya Showground Reserve Trust D 580020.
The original Trustee’s of the Park were John McKeon, William Caswell, Phillip Jeffery, Timothy Gannon and W. C. Fell; Robert Henry Harvison and the Reverend James Graham Love were appointed trustees in 1881 on the resignation of Caswell and Fell. During the war years, in early February 1942, a change took place in the trusteeship. The Moruya Park Trust wrote to the Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) asking to be relieved of the trusteeship of the Park. They feel that in the present situation of a world war the Park should be under public control and with many young people enlisting in the armed forces, it was unlikely that they would get any young people to join the Trust. The Council formally assumed the trusteeship on 2nd October 1942 and appoint a five person advisory committee. In the 1980’s it became Moruya Showground Management Committee and is made up of two representatives from each of the user groups with an ESC Councillor as chairperson.
A racecourse had originally been laid out on the Park reserve as early as February – March, more than six months before the area was even officially dedicated as a Reserve for Public Recreation on 2nd October 1866. It is probable that the 1866 course had been changed and improved over time. The Moruya Jockey Club had its 1st race meeting on 26th / 27th January 1887. In 1890’s a new period of development of the Park as a racecourse commenced. This was carried out under the auspices of the Moruya Jockey Club. Abraham F. Emmott writes of testing the speed of his horse by racing those on the track, along the outside of the course which ran to the west of Murray St c1890. In 1985 the horse races that had been a regular feature on the racetrack came to an end and the Moruya Jockey Club moved out to its new home.
During the development of the racecourse a grandstand of sort was built. In 1904 many Moruya residents felt that it was inadequate and a large petition was presented to town Council for a new structure. The Mayor Alan Taylor convened a public meeting at which voted for a construction of a new grandstand. No grant was forthcoming from the governments. The cost was mainly borne by the Moruya Jockey Club and the Park Trustees, each contributing £30. The balance, nearly another £30 was raised by donations from the public. It was opened by the Mayor on 7th February 1905.
In late March 1912, the Moruya Show Society committee met the Park Trustees to see whether they would agree to the town showground being established on the Park. The Trustees gave their assurance that they would raise no objection to the show’s new home. One of the stumbling blocks to the move was a legal issue. The terms of the dedication of Moruya Park did not include its use as a showground. For the Moruya Showground to be legally established on the Park, the dedication would first have to be altered.
The Show Society contacted the Department of Lands, the department despatched the District Surveyor, A.W. Chapman, to investigate the matter. On 19th September 1912, Chapman carried out inspections of the existing showground and the proposed new site, and conducted an open public enquiry at the Adelaide Hotel. He found that there was widespread support for the re-location.
Chapman’s recommendations were then passed to the Local Land Board for its consideration. Meeting at the Moruya Court House on 11th March 1913, the Board decided in favour of the proposal and advised the government to change the terms of the dedication of Moruya Park to include its use as a showground.
12-002During 1913 – 1914 the Moruya Show Society with the Trustees plans the moved to the new showground and fixed some of the problems within the Park that needed to be done. The Society moved their Pavilion which was built-in 1881 and the Secretary Office which was built-in 1910 to the new showground, as well as other structures. The first Annual Show took place over two days in February 1915.
The Pink Gates a true legend of Moruya has been dismantled and one wonders why this had to happen as they were a very distinct land mark for many years as people would use the ‘Pink Gates’ for direction purposes in the old days i.e., go to the Pink Gates (at the middle of Vulcan Street), go straight ahead to Mantle Hill or turn left to Gundary, right to go to South Head. Some people when going for an outing would say “I will meet you at the Pink Gates at 9am or 6pm etc.
The ‘Pink Gates’ were original entrance posts and gates to the old Showground and brought from the bowling club venue in 1914 when the show was moved to its present site. Adjoining the gates was a turn-still so that people living in Mantle area could walk through. They were built by (?); he must have been a true tradesman of the time. The gates were erected in the late 1800’s or thereabouts. They were made of solid Iron Bark posts 14″ x 14” square about 5′ high and about 8′ wide. The gates were built with timbers of solid Texture swung with iron ‘T’ hinges.
When the Moruya Jockey Club raced on the track, the Pink Gates were always used as a measuring stick by the Jockey’s and race broadcasters. Be in front of the Pink Gates and you have a good chance of winning would be an instruction from some of the trainers.
On another part of the Moruya Park; a nine-hole golf course was developed in the period 1914 – 1925. In 1988 the golf course was extended to eighteen holes.
As in many other parts of Australia, in 1942 the Army took over and occupied the showground as a military camp. The showground served as the camp for two troops of the 21st Light Horse Regiment. The Army retained the grounds as an encampment until 1945.
Over the years many improvements happen around the Showground. Building and structures were added, and then on some extensions added to them. Two Caretaker Cottages were built one in 1944 and the second in 1952. Horse stalls were added in 1967 – 1968 by Show Society and the Jockey Club. Floodlights were added around the show ring in 1969 – 1971 by the Rodeo Committee and the Show Society. In 1977 the Pony Club, Rodeo Committee, ESC and Show Society erected the show ring-fence.
In 1977 – 1978 the stalls at the southern end of the showground near the main gate were pulled down to make way for the building of the New Community Centre with basketball stadium. The ESC said that the stalls will be rebuilt in another area of the showground. Part of the money for the building of the Community Centre was raised by the community at local events like the ‘Mardi Gras’. It was opened by the Hon K.G. Booth MP on 7th April 1978.
Form the early 1980’s all the improvements and management of the Showground has been done through the Moruya Showground Management Committee. In 1987 – 1988 a football oval was built on the eastern side of the pavilion. The oval was named ‘Ack Weyman Oval’.
All groups from 1988 that charged gate entrance fees, paid 10% of their gate taking for12-013 ten years to ESC for a loan that they supplied so that the user group could erected a fence around the Showground. In 1997 the Football Club, Rodeo Committee and Show Society erected the ticket box at the main gate.
During a storm in 2001, the wind not only blew away the roof of the stables, but may also have taken with it the future of horse events at the showground. After the roof blew off the stables were deemed unsafe and were pulled down by ESC.
From 2005 upgrading of the pavilion was under way. Stages one was completed in January 2006 and Stage two in January 2007.
In September of 2009, the Eurobodalla District Show Society Inc. with permission of the Moruya Showground Management Committee signed an agreement with Wesley Uniting Employment for them to do Work Experience on the Showground. The agreement was in the form of repair and maintenance around the Showground eg painting, lawn care and other jobs that are asked of them. At the end of 2009 Wesley Uniting Employment had repaired and painted the stables and yards, painted show ring and power boxes, and looked after some of the lawn care of the Showground.
Over a period of three weeks, starting on the 10 November 2009, a Showground sign was erected at the main entrance on Albert Street. The sign was erected by Andy Mehl and team. Later in 2009, ESC added a new finger Showground sign at the corner of the Princes Highway and Albert Street. Also in 2009 the Council with funding under the Federal Government’s Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program placed metal sheets on the floor / seating of the Grandstand. This was done to stop the vandalism and brake-ins to the change rooms.
The Moruya District Poultry Club started in January 2010 to upgrade the cages and floor in the Poultry Pavilion and with the help of Wesley Uniting Employment, who by the end of March had repaired and painted the Poultry Pavilion. In April of 2010 the floor was started to be laid with road base. This is the start with more upgrades planned for the Poultry Pavilion.
During March 2010 the Moruya Showground Management Committee and the Community replaced the metal gate that was at the ‘Pink Gates’ entrance, which is at the corner Vulcan and Murray Streets. The replacement gates are like the original entrance gates. They are made of solid wood posts 7 3/4″ x 5 3/4″ (20 cm x 15 cm) about 5′ (152 cm) high and about 11′ 9″ (3 m 58 cm) wide. There are two gates 4′ 5 1/2″ (136 cm) high by 5′ 10 1/2″ (179 cm) wide. The gates are timber and swung with iron ‘T’ hinges and locking parts. The posts and gates are painted pink with the hinges and locking parts painted black.
On the Gates there is a sign. The sign reads:
 The Pink Gates
The Moruya Show was first held on the land at the corner of Murray and Evans Street12-022 Moruya in 1877 and was later moved to a site now used by Moruya Bowling Club in River Street Moruya.
The Moruya Jockey Club held its first meeting on the present showground site on 26 and 27 June 1887.
“The Pink Gates” were first built as the entrance to the Showground in River Street, Moruya and moved to their present site in 1914. For many years they were an icon in our village and a meeting place for the young folk of Moruya.
Carpenter: Greg Murphy
Metal worker: Noel Clulee
Painter: Tony O’Connor
Sponsor: Michel P Nader
In April 2010 the Caretakers Cottage was rented out by the ESC to the general public. And in July that year the Eurobodalla District Show Society replaced the door on the eastern side under the Grandstand. The original door did not get replaced when the concrete blocks were used to replace the wooden sides of the Grandstand. During September 2010 the Moruya Showground Management Committee replaced the two old electric hot water heaters in the change rooms with a new gas hot water system.