Yarra Park, Melbourne

Yarra Park has become the premier sporting precinct of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, with the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and numerous sporting fields and ovals, including the associated sporting complexes of Melbourne Park and Olympic Park. The park and sporting facilities are located in the suburb of East Melbourne. In the late 1850s, many of the earliest games of Australian rules football were played at Yarra Park, which was known at the time as the Richmond Paddock.

Tree-lined paths run parallel to Punt Road and Swan Street, and criss-cross the park. Some of the lawns are used for parking for sporting events. Two footbridges allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the railway lines to the different sporting venues and easy access to the Yarra River Trail.

Around the MCG are sculptures to several Australian sporting heroes including: Australian rules footballers Ron Barassi and Dick Reynolds; cricketers Sir Donald Bradman and Keith Miller; athletics "golden girl" Betty Cuthbert. Nearby is an old eucalyptus tree which shows a big scar caused by harvesting of bark for a canoe by the original inhabitants of the Yarra River Valley, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.

The adjacent Punt Road Oval, home of the Richmond Football Club features a statue of Tiger legend Jack Dyer.

History

In 1856, Victorian Governor Charles La Trobe proclaimed 81 hectares of parkland, extending from Punt Road to Swanston Street, and from Wellington Parade to the Yarra River. Initially the area was also used as police paddocks for the agistment of police horses. On 31 July, 1858, Tom Wills and others played an experimental football match at the Richmond Paddock. The match is regarded as the basis of the Melbourne Football Club rules of 1859, the first written rules for Australian rules football.

By the 1860s five recreational ovals were marked out: the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Richmond Cricket Ground, East Melbourne Cricket Club ovals (two), and an oval in Gosch's Paddock, south of Swan Street. In the southern section of the park land was set aside for the Friendly Society's Gardens (now Olympic Park), and the Scotch College oval. In 1874 Yarra Park Primary School was opened in the north east corner of the park. A housing subdivision was excised from the park in 1881.

Since this time major excisions have been made for Melbourne's eastern and southeastern rail lines, the Hurstbridge railway line, Olympic Park Sporting Complex, Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne Park's National Tennis Centre. However, Gosch's Paddock still links Yarra Park to the Yarra River at the Morrell Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.

In 2007 the Yarra Park Association was formed with the aim of removing car parking from the grass surfaces of Yarra Park.

External links

* [http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/info.cfm?top=25&pa=1273&pg=1309 Melbourne City Council - Yarra Park]
* [http://203.26.235.226/permits/parks/printpage.cfm?pid=149&pop=true Map]
* [http://www.mcg.org.au/default.asp?pg=educationdisplay&articleid=1239 Yarra Park Adventure Tour]
* [http://www.yarrapark.org Yarra Park Association]


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