Saturday, 8 November 2014

Ballarat Showgrounds

Its Show Weekend in Ballarat: the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society has been part of Ballarat life for over 150 years now.

It seems like an appropriate time to bring out these photographs of the Ballarat Showgrounds during the Great War, when they were the site of an AIF training camp...

Photographs from the Ballarat Courier Christmas special, December 14, 1915

But dont strain your eyes to try and recognise any features of today's showgrounds!  These are photographs of the showground situated off Wendouree Parade, on the North East corner of the Lake shore.

Detail of 1936 survey map showing new showgrounds site on Creswick Road, and old site near Lake Wendouree

This 1936 map shows both the showgrounds sites.  The new site in Creswick Road was officially opened in 1933.  The old site was at first thought to be a great place to relocate the Ballarat Base Hospital, but funding was not available for this.  The site was cleared during 1933 and the land sub-divided into 61 residential allotments.  Extraordinary, but there was not a great deal of interest in the land - it was the mid-1940s before all the blocks were sold.

Just as a footnote, the old showgrounds were also used during the Spanish Influenza pandemic: people with influenza could be isolated and treated there. But the conditions were very spartan!

This blog has even more relevance for today's Courier page 1 headline is "Vic Park on radar: key site identified for new showgrounds" (November 8, 2014)

If you'd like to read more about the Agricultural and Pastoral Society, or if you live in the Brawn Avenue area, you should look at Golden Showtime, the history of the Society.  There are more  photographs there, and on page 65 an interesting map of the subdivision, which outlines the old oval - maybe your house is on it!

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