Parks / Reserves


Central Park at Stawell is located near the centre of Stawell and comprises a sports oval, a timber grandstand and other buildings and a number of memorials, set amidst ornamental gardens and lawns. The site was used from the 1860s by the local gold miners as a cricket ground, but is best known as the site of the Stawell Gift, Australia's oldest, richest and most prestigious short-distance footrace. The origins of this race lie in the popular sports meetings organised as recreation by the miners and other community groups from the early 1870s. The Stawell Athletics Club was formed in 1877 and held its first meeting on Easter Saturday 1878 at the botanical reserve. The main event was the Easter Gift, run over a distance of 130 yards (118.9 metres) with a first prize of £20. The third meeting in 1880 had expanded to a two day event and its popularity, and the prize money, continued to grow. By 1884 the Gift had become an international event, with runners from around Australia competing against those from Europe and America. In 1898 the Easter meeting was held for the first time at Central Park, where a new timber grandstand was built, designed by the Melbourne architects Kempson & Conolly. The Memorial Gates, made by the local foundry of Kay & Company, were added in 1903, in memory of the fifty-seven Stawell men who volunteered to serve in the Boer War. The Stawell Gift meeting has been held at Central Park every Easter since 1899, apart from the war years of 1942-5. It has grown to a three-day event, culminating in the Stawell Gift race, a handicap race now (since 1973) of 120 metres, with a first prize in 2011 of $40,000.


10-18 Main St, STAWELL VIC 3380 AU

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