Skip to content

History of Moore Park

Moore Park was founded as a recreation ground in 1866 to assuage pressure from the people of Sydney for a public space for outdoor activities and organised sports.

To meet the public's demands, Sydney City Council dedicated 378 acres (153 hectares) of the north-west section of Sydney Common as a space for public recreation.

The area was named Moore Park in 1867 after Charles Moore, the Mayor of Sydney City Council 1867-1869.

Moore Park quickly became the focus for major sporting events and entertainment facilities with the founding of Sydney's first Zoological Gardens on the site in 1879 (the zoo included a bear pit and elephant house), the construction of the Royal Agricultural Society Showground, and the opening of the Australian Golf Club's first course in 1882.

In 1874 Moore Park was the location of the first polo match played in Australia and Sydney Girls’ High School (1920) and Sydney Boys’ High School (1928) were also later built on the site.

Moore Park's historic boundaries

At the time of dedication, Moore Park was bounded to the south by Lachlan Estate and Randwick Racecourse, to the west by Dowling Street, to the north by Old South Head Road, and to the east by the Lachlan Water Reserve. A road lined with stone pines marked the eastern boundary of the park and the western boundary of the water reserve.

Two other roads crossed Moore Park prior to 1866; the first was known as Old Botany Road and was initially used by hunters and fisherman and later by pleasure seekers traveling to Coogee and Botany.

The second road provided a western entrance to a cemetery that was located off South Dowling Street. The dedicated land encompassed the Tunnel Reserve (1827-1838), the Military Barracks and the Military Cricket Ground.

Topography and usage patterns

Moore Park consisted of a series of gently rolling hills, three water bodies and varied scrub vegetation. Commonly known as the Sand Hills, the land was prone to erosion.

By the mid 19th century, the land was degraded and barren, more a result of years of timber getting, pillaging and dumping than of inherent environmental qualities. The removal of timber in particular had led to erosion problems, so that by the early 1860s Charles Moore the alderman and Charles Moore, the Director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, collaborated to stabilise the soils with plantings of indigenous shrubs and couch grass. The shrubs failed, but the couch grass succeeded quickly, and sparked discussion about the loss of native vegetation in the area.

Four of the sand hills in Moore Park were conspicuous enough to be named: Mount Steel, Mount Rennie, Constitution Hill and Mount Lang. However, in the process of transforming the common into parkland, these hills were modified greatly.

Moore Park today

Today Mount Steel is the least altered of the four historic sand hills. Mount Rennie was reconfigured as a platform for the Moore Park Golf House in 1926 and Mount Lang, across from the modern day Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), was terraced and ramped for unknown reasons and then disappeared after the 1940s.

The fate of Constitution Hill is unclear. The Moore Park Golf Course (established in 1926) has taken advantage of, and modified the gently rolling topography of the area when establishing fairways.

The management of Moore Park, except the two stadiums, were transferred to the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust in the early 1990s.

Moore Park now provides 115 hectares of public space for the people of Sydney's leisure activities. The Park's sports fields include basketball, tennis and netball courts, the ES Marks Athletics Field, an 18-hole Group One public golf course, chipping and putting greens and a 60 bay driving range. It is also used as a venue for circuses and other outdoor events.