A Rich History
Albert Park contains a rich history which will inform the Albert Park Master Plan. The earliest record of the Park was by James Flemming in 1803, who described it to be salt lagoon about a mile long and quarter a mile wide. At this time, the land was occupied by Aboriginal tribes, clans and bands (Barnard and Keating 1996).
Albert Park was formally given its name in 1862 after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort. It was permanently reserved as a Public Park and officially “opened” in 1864. Over the years, the park has been subject to a range of negotiations between sporting interests, local community interests and government interests.
The park has always had a strong connection with sports, but throughout the years has also had additional uses. During World War Two, areas of the Park were sectioned off for military uses. From 1906-1950 a large portion of the Park was utilised as a rubbish tip. Horse and cattle grazing within the bounds was the subject of contention for many years. Over the years, a number of educational facilities have been established on excised land on the park’s periphery.
Significant events in Albert Park’s history have attracted large amounts of people to visit the Park, including: horse racing and driving speedway races; the Australasian Tennis Championship (later became the Australian Open) held at the Albert Ground in 1905; welcome fireworks display for visiting American Fleet which attracted 200,000 people in 1908; Grand Prix in 1953; Hockey fields were used for Olympic Games in 1956; and a range of Fun Runs, marathons and festivals which continue in the Park today.
The Park has been progressively improved over the years with a focus on improvements and additions to its structured recreational facilities, ovals and fields. The Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre was built on excised land in 1996 and Lakeside Stadium was substantially rebuilt in 2011.
Albert Park has been the subject of a number of Master Plans over the years, with the most recent being the 1994 ‘Albert Park: Realising the Vision’ Master Plan produced by Parks Victoria and Hassell Group. The new master plan will draw on the park’s rich history to inform a clear vision for the next twenty years.