Show must go on as Eurobodalla celebrates 150 years of history

Tom McGann18 January 2022
Comparison of Moruya Showground in 1914 to today

Moruya Showground in 1914 compared to today. Photos: Supplied.

The Eurobodalla Agricultural Show has been buffeted by bushfires, floods, economic depression and COVID-19, but the stalwarts behind it have seen it all through to celebrate 150 years this month.

Established in 1872, Eurobodalla Agriculture Society – known as Moruya Agriculture Society for more than a century, but renamed in 1981 – volunteers have kept the show going throughout world wars and now a pandemic, driven by their love for all things farming and community.

The show has an interesting history, from the Australian Army using the showground in 1940, cancelling war-time shows, to the basketball stadium being built in 1970.

Moruya’s John Browne became a volunteer back in 2000 and he is fascinated by the show’s history.

“It has been going for such a long time now, and so much has changed in the past 150 years,” he says.

“I joined the committee in 2000, and even in the past 21 years a lot has changed – it’s all very interesting.”

One of the main pieces of history John finds intriguing is the establishment of Moruya Showground.

The Eurobodalla Agricultural Show held its first 108 events at Gundary Oval in Moruya. The showground was originally the location of the racecourse, with its grandstand built for racing purposes.

Grandstand at Moruya Showground

Moruya Showground grandstand, which was originally built as part of the racecourse. Photo: Tom McGann.

However, during World War I, the show committee argued the area would be better suited for public use rather than racing.

Eventually Moruya Showground was established in 1914, with the NSW Government providing assistance in the relocation of old showground buildings, and the racecourse was moved to where it is today, near Moruya Airport.

“The racecourse used to run right around the showground, going as far as to the edge of the golf course,” says John.

“Having the racecourse moved to where it is today and having Moruya Showground established was a big part of the show’s history.

“The showground has been the event’s home ever since.”

It is an honour for John and his fellow committee members to be running the 150th Eurobodalla Agricultural Show.

“It’s a bit daunting in some ways,” he says. “It’s been going for so long, and we’re just trying to keep up the name and keep the show going.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, events will be downscaled this year to comply with public health orders. In a normal year, John says the show attracts large crowds and is a great way for farmers and other groups to see what has been happening in the community.

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“We have kept the same events for as long as I can remember,” he says. “The show has grown but it is keeping the same general idea as show number one, 150 years ago.”

While in recent years the livestock mix has changed, many events and organisations return year after year.

Attractions this year include car clubs, horse shows, photography competitions, cooking, fruit and vegetable displays, pet contests, dog jumping, motorbike shows and eating contests.

While Eurobodalla Agricultural Show has grown over the years, with new events and groups being added, John says one thing has not changed since the start: its community support.

“We get a lot of support from the community, especially from the older generation,” he says.

“But it’s important to remember that the demographics of the shire are changing so we need to include events that will interest younger people and new families moving to the area.”

Many local businesses continue to support the show, as they have done for many years. John says the show committee is thankful and could not continue the long-running show without that support.

“We’re hoping to continue for as long as we can with support from the community,” he says.

“It’s been going for so long now, and lots has changed and much has stayed the same so let’s do it for another 150 years.”

The 150th Eurobodalla Agricultural Show will happen at Moruya Showground on 22-23 January. Gates open at 9 am both days, with a late night finish on the Saturday. Admission prices start at $12 for adults and $6 for children.

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