People and Places
27/02/2019
Heart of the community for more than a century

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So while footy and cricket play a big part in the story of Alexandra Park, they are by no means the only sporting endeavours to have been staged on its fields over the decades. There were also woodchopping competitions in the 1950s and even boomerang and spear-throwing exhibitions by Aborigines.

As part of a Boxing Day carnival in 1934, nine camels from central Australia made up a picnic camel race meeting at Alexandra Park. As part of the same carnival, a tennis tournament on the grass of Alexandra Park was also well attended. Then there was the Mornington Athletics Carnival of 1945, where the Shire made provisions for up to 5000 spectators and prepared a world-class track with the feature race, the Mornington Gift, one of the richest and most prestigious foot races in the country at that time alongside the Stawell Gift.

But Alexandra Park hasn’t just been an arena for sports — it’s a venue that has held some of the biggest events and camps on the Peninsula. The regular gymkhanas are a good example. Gymkhanas were enormously popular on the Peninsula from the early to mid-1900s; they were essentially an event to celebrate horsemanship, although there were also motorcycle varieties as well. 

Alexandra Park was also the setting for some of the biggest camps on the Peninsula. On Boxing Day in 1931, about 280 men of the 24th Battalion representing Camberwell, Croydon and Surrey Hills set up camp for 10 days, engaging in activities such as inter-company cricket matches. The Alpha Social Club used Alexandra Park for Christmas holiday camps in the 1940s on more than one occasion, some of which were attended by 400 people or more, as did the Presbyterian Young Men’s Fellowship in the late 1920s and the Scouts on regular occasions.

All of which goes to show how valuable an asset Alexandra Park has been — and still is — to the local and wider community. Thanks should be given to the Mornington football and cricket clubs for the work they have done in maintaining and developing the area over more than a century. The Mornington Peninsula Shire should also be acknowledged for its investment and management of the area on behalf of its residents. 

At the end of the day, as history has shown, though people from far and wide have used the magnificent field and amenities of Alexandra Park for many and varied purposes, it will always remain a place for all the people of the Mornington Peninsula to enjoy.

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