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Victoria Park Racecourse : Part of our social history

Victoria Park / Pakapakanthi (Park 16)

Did you know that racing in the earliest days of the colony was hampered by the lack of available horses?

photo-icon Crowds of racegoers at Victoria Park racecourse, State Library of South Australia, PRG 280/1/20/145, circa 1920
photo-icon Victoria Park Members Enclosure, City of Adelaide Archives, HP0095, date unknown
photo-icon City of Adelaide Archives, HP0096, date unknown
photo-icon Sir John Morphett

The Kaurna name for this Park, Pakapakanthi, means "to trot" (as in horses).

Horse racing commenced soon after foundation of the colony of South Australia with the arrival of the first British settlers who brought with them a love of horse racing. In 1837, Sir John Morphett (after whom Morphettville Racecourse was named) owned one of only two horses in the colony. In the following year, the first race meeting in the colony was held in the south-west Park Lands. It was attended by 800 people, at a time when the population of the colony was only 2,000-3,000 people.

Horse racing was first held in Victoria Park in the 1840s, and until racing ceased in 2007, this was the oldest racecourse in Australia.

The State Heritage Listed Grandstand (built 1882) was designed by Bayer & Withall architects, who also designed Norwood Town Hall. It was built for the comfort of the Governor and other dignitaries at race meetings. The most prominent visitor was the popular Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, who abdicated in December 1936 after a reign of just 326 days. A race meeting was held in his honour during his visit to Adelaide in 1920.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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