Sydney Showground (Moore Park)

For the new Sydney Showground, see Sydney Showground (Olympic Park).
Former Sydney Showground

Former Sydney Showground, Moore Park, NSW
Location Moore Park, Sydney.
Coordinates 33°53′36″S 151°13′37″E / 33.89333°S 151.22694°E / -33.89333; 151.22694Coordinates: 33°53′36″S 151°13′37″E / 33.89333°S 151.22694°E / -33.89333; 151.22694
Owner New South Wales Government
Operator News Corporation, 21st Century Fox, Fox Studios Australia
Capacity 40,000 (originally 90,000)
Surface Grass
Broke ground 1882
Opened 1882
Renovated 1938
Expanded 1902-1919 Soutwards, 1920-1937 Northwards.
Closed 1997
Demolished 1998 re-purposed
Sydney Royal Easter Show (1882-1997)
South Sydney Rabbitohs (1908-1920)
Empire Speedways (1926-1996)
World Series Cricket (1977/78)
Showground showring

The former Sydney Showground at Moore Park was the site of the Sydney Royal Easter Show in New South Wales, Australia from 1882 until 1997, when the Show was moved to the new Sydney Showground at Homebush Bay, which was built for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The old site was then leased to News Corporation on a 99-year lease from the Government of New South Wales to be used for the site of Fox Studios Australia, and is now part of The Entertainment Quarter.[1]


In 1811, Governor Macquarie proclaimed Sydney’s second common, an area of 1,000 acres (4.0 km2). In 1882, The Agricultural Society established its grounds within the site, which henceforth became the venue of the Royal Easter Show—an annual expression of national pride in Australian produce and industry.

The period from 1902 to 1919 saw the expansion of the showgrounds to the south. From 1920–1937, the grounds were further expanded to the north, with the addition of new squares and judging rings. The dominant visual elements of the complex by this time were the peripheral walls, the Members’ Grandstand clock tower and the tower of the Anthony Hordern building.

The country’s sesqui-centenary celebrations of 1938 led to a further building program at the showground, including the Government Pavilion and the Commemorative Pavilion. Aside from the Royal Easter Show and rugby league matches, the venue was used for World Series Cricket games in the late 1970s when the Sydney Cricket Ground was unavailable. At its peak, the old showground could hold over 90,000 people.

The Main Arena at the Sydney Showground was also used as one of two Sydney Harness racing venues, the other being the Harold Park Paceway, located only 4 km from Moore Park in the suburb of Glebe.

From 1926 until 1996 the Showground's Main Arena also doubled as the Sydney Showground Speedway, a dirt track speedway, officially known as Speedway Royale, the speedway attracted large spectator attendances throughout the summer months. Claimed to be the fastest speedway in the world in 1937, the 509 metres (557 yards) long "egg shaped" track was also the site of some spectacular crashes and some tragic deaths. Although solo motorcycles were first to race at the Showgrounds they were soon joined by sidecars, speedcars and later Super Modifieds. In the 1950s stock cars began to appear joined much later by demolition derbies.

Since the departure of the Royal Easter Show to the new showground, the old showground has been redeveloped as Fox Studios, a commercial venture designed at supporting Australia's film industry. It is in close proximity with some of Sydney's largest public venues, namely the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Football Stadium, and the Hordern Pavilion, a multipurpose entertainment venue.[2]


The showground was the venue for the first game of rugby football sanctioned by the breakway New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership, essentially the first game of rugby league in Australia. Played by a New South Wales team against New Zealand's rebel 1907 tourists, it attracted a sellout crowd of approximately 20,000. After that the Agricultural Ground hosted the first ever interstate matches between New South Wales and Queensland.

Sydney's Royal Agricultural Showground was then venue for the first Ashes test on Australian soil.[3] The showground also became the venue for the NSWRFL's grand finals until the late 1920s, and eventually hosted 183 first grade rugby league games.


The venue hosted concerts by many famous artists, including Led Zeppelin, ABBA, David Bowie, AC/DC, The Police and KISS, among others.

English rock band Led Zeppelin played to over 25,000 fans at the Sydney Showground in February 1972 as part of their 1972 Australasian Tour. Footage from the show is featured on disc two of the Led Zeppelin DVD released some thirty years after the event.

The Sydney Showgrounds was also the venue for the annual Sydney Big Day Out music festival held in January between 1992 and 1997. The 1997 event was titled 'Six and Out - Big Day out' then indicating the final Big Day Out Festival before its new beginning at the new Sydney Showground Homebush in 1999. The former Sydney Showground is featured in the Rage Against the Machine video clip for "Bulls on Parade", from when they performed live at the Big Day Out Festival on 25 January 1996.


  2. Fox Studios Australia
  3. McAteer, Paddy (1 February 2010). "Pride of Lions lives on". North-West Evening Mail. UK: CN Group. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
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