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Creation of Moore Park

In 1866 the Sydney Common Improvement Bill was passed and the western part of the Second Sydney Common was transferred to Sydney City Council, which set aside the land for public recreation.

The Sydney Common Improvement Act of 1866 vested control of the Common with Sydney Municipal Council. It also created Moore Park on 378 acres (153 hectares) in the western section of the Common, which had by then become an area unofficially used for sporting purposes and active recreation.

The dedication of the park formalised its use for recreational purposes. The park incorporated the Tunnel Reserve, the Military Barracks and the Military Cricket Ground. An Improvement Committee was setup by the Sydney Municipal Council in 1866 to review the Common and options for developing the land.

On 29 April 1867 a report from the Improvement Committee recommended that the land hitherto known as the Sydney Common be designated ‘Moore Park’ - named after Charles Moore, Mayor of Sydney during this period.

They also approved the sale of the land between the South Head Road and Moore Park Road to fund the development of a public park. Covenants on the titles ensured that only elegant villas would overlook the park. Moore Park remained under the administration of the Council, which oversaw the development of sports facilities and leased land to the Zoological Society and Showground. The Council allowed developments as long as they perceived them to be for the good of the community.

From 1866 to the 1880s plantings along roadways quickly established a distinct character for Moore Park. Although tree species have changed over the years, this large scale pattern of avenue plantations enclosing playing fields remains a defining quality of Moore Park.

The first of the plantations lined Old Botany Road. Renamed Randwick Road it was planted in 1868 with a double row of Norfolk Island Pines adjacent to the carriage way with an outer row of alternating Moreton Bay figs (which remain today) and Monterey pines. The alternating row was extended around the northern periphery of the Park.

Moore Park Road (originally called Park Road) was built in 1868 to reduce trampling along the northern edge of the Park and a double row of sixteen Moreton Bay figs were planted.

More formalised sports were held in Moore Park as early as 1874, when the first known polo game in Australia was played.

In 1878, the old military cricket ground became the NSW Cricket Association Ground. As a result of the increase in spectators and participants, two entrances were made directly off Randwick Road (now Anzac Parade), one for vehicles and one for pedestrians. Both converged at the same northern entrance gate into the grounds. An additional vehicular road was constructed as a loop off Randwick Road and soon became the line of a steam tramway.

By the end of the 1800s Moore Park was Sydney’s most popular sporting and entertainment precinct. It had a cricket ground, sporting stadium, golf course, racecourse, agricultural society showground and sporting fields.