As a life member of the Gunnedah Show Society, I feel I can contribute to the present debate about council charges, by giving the history of the showground as it was passed onto me by my parents; my mother being a life member for many years. As I understand, the showground was also a racetrack until 1948 when the jockey club moved to Riverside Racecourse. Over the following years the showground was developed to its present state.

Roger Wotton was the ringmaster at the Sydney Royal Easter Show at the time and engaged the engineer that designed the Sydney Moore Park arena to design one in Gunnedah to the same dimensions. It was constructed from the base up, having base material that would allow the arena to drain well and dry out quickly after rain, a feature that the arena is still noted for. These features make it one of the last traditional showground arenas in NSW.

Most of the work was done by volunteer labour and during its development district landholders, some with their staff members, would work for days developing the ground. One story I was told was when the original light towers were erected, they were stood by voluntary labour using a Holden utility and two guy ropes. I believe they were dismantled using a very large crane.

My mother was one of the founding members of the ladies auxiliary long before the Griffith Hall was constructed. She worked tirelessly for years raising money by making cakes for street stalls and selling raffle tickets to finance the construction of the ladies’ auxiliary kitchen. I felt outraged by Leonie Harley’s letter stating that the ladies’ auxiliary now has to pay for the use of the facility. I know that every structure built on government land is owned by the government, but it seems to me that the council, now as administrators of the showground, could show some respect to the people over the generations who have developed this outstanding facility.

Neville Swain, Gunnedah

To order photos from this page click here