Skip to content | Skip to document navigation

Research Guides

Government Records about the Australian Capital Territory


Canberrans have always loved their sport. By the mid-1920s, a number of football and cricket teams were established and competitions quickly organised. By 1927, the Federal Capital Commission reported that Canberra had a Tennis Association, 26 affiliated Federal Territory Cricket Association teams, four Australian rules teams, five soccer teams, seven rugby league teams and three rugby union teams.402

From 1925, organised sport on Sundays was prohibited in the Territory, primarily due to lobbying by religious groups. In March 1947, Cabinet considered a report that noted 'Canberra, as the National Capital, occupies a unique position in Australia and any consideration regarding policy should remain at a national level as well as in relation to wishes of the citizens of the Territory'. Cabinet approved the playing of competitive Sunday sport providing no charge was made for admission.403

Enclosed ovals – Canberra NC–71/01383 NC–71/01383
Study on provision and usage of playing fields NC–72/00367#1
Kambah District Park Stage I – formerly Kambah Homestead – landscape development NC–73/00301#1
Ice skating rink feasibility study NC–74/00765#1
SAP national shooting complex NC–77/00974#1
Canberra International Raceway Committee – motor road racing circuit NC–79/01132#1
National Aquatic Centre Bruce – design NC–80/00499#1
Land use policies for golf and similar sporting clubs NC–80/01435#1
1985 World Cup athletics NC–80/01724#1
BMX Track – Melba – construction NC–81/00626#1

Manuka Oval

Although an oval was established as part of the Royal Military College at Duntroon, the first sporting ground for the general public was Manuka Oval, originally known as Manuka Circle, which was established in 1923.

In 1926 and 1927, the cricket association and bodies representing football and local sporting associations made approaches to the Federal Capital Commission to have the area enclosed. The commission stated in its annual report that arrangements were being made for the ground to be fenced and for the construction of pavilions.404 It was not until March 1929, however, that the work commenced.

Manuka Oval has three principal grandstands: the Bradman Pavilion, which opened in February 1963, and was demolished in the late 1990s, to be replaced by a second Bradman Pavilion; the Menzies Stand (1987); and the Hawke Stand (1992). The latter two commemorate prime ministers who were instrumental in promoting Prime Minister's XI cricket matches.

Today, the ground is used predominantly for cricket and football matches. Each summer it hosts a cricket match involving the Prime Minister's XI and a visiting international team. The first Prime Minister's XI was held in October 1951 against a visiting team from the West Indies; the match was drawn.

Night lighting was used at the ground for the first time on 29 January 2013, during a match between the Prime Minister's XI and a team from the West Indies; the match was won by Australia.

Manuka sports ground oval, 1936–54 A2942, 152
Manuka Oval grand stand, recreation grounds, 1947–52 A2942, 296
Manuka Oval 84/968
Manuka 89/14846
Manuka Oval – turf and grasses 81/4126
Manuka Oval 82/1124
Manuka Oval – grand stand recreation grounds A3127/296
Manuka Oval – upgrading Jack Fingleton scoreboard NC–82/724#1
Manuka Oval – media facilities NC–84/01942
Applications for the use of Manuka Oval P&G1962/247
Manuka Oval – development – Part 1 P&G1962/70
Manuka Oval – development – Part 2 P&G1967/286
City Parks Administration Branch – Manuka Oval P&G1974/107
Apex fireworks displays – Canberra Showground and Manuka Oval P&G1974/92
National Archives
Forwarding plans of Manuka Circle, 1923 A192, FCL1923/287
Manuka Circle recreation ground, 1924–25 A361, DSG24/1051
Proposal for the establishment of football ground including pavilion and fences at Manuka Circle, 1926–28 A6266, G1928/1752
Manuka Circle Oval, 1926–28 CP698/9, 45/5
Manuka Circle Sports Ground, appointment of groundsman, 1930–32 A430, G508
Manuka Oval, appointment of groundsman, 1936–40 A659, 1940/1/2379
Manuka Oval, new pavilion proposal, 1933–39 A292, C649
Photograph of Don Bradman opening the Bradman Pavilion, 1963 A1200, L43049
Manuka Oval, stage II erection of covered seating, 1968 A660, K7443

Exhibition Park in Canberra

Image 27: Cattle on parade at the Canberra Show, 1979.

Image 27: Cattle on parade at the Canberra Show, 1979.
ArchivesACT 2013/8879/3.34.1
Enlarge image - View image gallery

Exhibition Park in Canberra, originally known as the Canberra Showground, was established jointly by the Commonwealth government and the National Capital Agricultural Society in 1964. The venue comprises a showground and a series of exhibition buildings, including Budawang, Mallee and Coorong.

The first agricultural show at the showground opened on 6 March 1964.

The showground's name changed in 1982 to the National Exhibition Centre. Following self-government in 1989, the site was transferred to the control of the ACT Government. There was one more name change, in 1993, when the venue was renamed Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC), the name it bears today.

The venue is now home to a series of regular events, including the Summernats car festival (January), Canberra Show (February), and National Folk Festival (Easter). Several Lifeline book fairs are also held there each year.

For many years, the Budawang Pavilion has served as the National Tally Room on federal election days (previously Hawker College was used). In July 2013, however, it was announced that in an age of modern communications, a tally room was no longer needed.

ACT Tourism Commission – Canberra Showground Trust 90/17973
Development of Canberra Showground 70/3101
Legislation – Canberra Showground Authority 73/2618
Interim Management Board for the Showground – minutes of meetings 74/1491
Interim Management Board for Canberra Showground – correspondence 74/1541
Canberra Showground Trust – Inquiry by Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations 79/2404
Canberra Showground Trust – review 79/2647
Canberra Showground Trust – retail markets 82/115
Canberra Showground Trust – trotting facilities CP78/0060–01
National Exhibition Centre NC–74/00686#1
Canberra Showground – quarter horse track area – services and development NC–79/01450
Canberra Showground camping area – site servicing – design NC–80/00550#1
Canberra Showground – landscaping P&G1962/245
National Exhibition Centre – application for additional land 88/12428
ACTION, National Exhibition Centre – market buses 89/881
National Exhibition Centre – business plan 89/19984
Capital Markets Section, National Exhibition Centre – review 92/6386
NCDC and National Exhibition Centre Trust, 1981– NC–82/00600
Canberra Racecourse – National Exhibition Centre – area planning NC–83/01321#1
National Exhibition Centre – sub-leases for service stations prior to 1986 NC–77/00994#1
National Archives
Canberra Showground, sewerage pump station, 1964–65 A660, KCM6713
Police facilities at Canberra Showground, 1968–90 A431, 1976/928
Photograph of map of Canberra Showground, 1970 A7973, INT1138/1
Canberra Racecourse and National Exhibition Centre, draft policy plan, 1983 A9668, M7
Gordon Scholes – National Exhibition Centre, 1985–86 M2733, A7

Canberra Stadium (formerly Bruce Stadium)

Canberra Stadium, located in the suburb of Bruce, was built in 1977 for the Pan-Pacific Games. The ground is home to the Canberra Raiders National Rugby League team and the Brumbies Super 15 Rugby team. The stadium has a maximum capacity of 25,000 people and is currently owned by the Commonwealth government and leased to the ACT Government.

National Archives
Photographs of sporting events at the stadium
Numerous items

AIS Arena (formerly the National Indoor Sports Centre)

The National Indoor Sports Centre was built in 1980 and opened on 26 January 1981 by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. The venue can accommodate 5200 people and is home to the Canberra Capitals basketball team.

National Archives
National Indoor Sports Centre official opening, 1977–81 A9781, 1980/3663
Indoor Sports Centre Bruce, construction, 1978–79 A1340, 1979/1180, parts 1–13
National Indoor Sports and Training Centre, minutes of coordination meetings, 1980 A1340, 1980/466
Official opening, National Indoor Sports Centre, 1980–81 A9781, 1981/1388
Malcolm Fraser – opening of National Indoor Sports Centre, speech notes, 1981–82 M1263, 1264
Audio tape – opening of the National Indoor Sports Centre, 1981 M1338, 55


Chapter notes | All notes

402 Federal Capital Commission, Annual Report, 30 June 1927, p. 25, Parliamentary Papers, 1926–28, volume 2, pp. 1185–305.

403 NAA: A2700, 1310, 3 March 1947, decision 24 March 1947.

404 Federal Capital Commission, Annual Report, 30 June 1926, p. 15, Parliamentary Papers, 1926–28, volume 2, pp. 1117–84.


Chapter 15
The arts, community and sport