MT GRAVATT SHOW CHRONICLES
How the Show began
The first Show was held in 1915 and was held on the southern side of the Mt. Gravatt State School in James paddock and it occupied all the space between the school and the Mt Gravatt Hotel.
The first Show on the present ground was held in 1918 on 20 acres of land purchased from Mr. Robert Grieve of Rochedale and on 7 acres which was loaned to the Show Society just for the Show by Augustus Charles Scurr. The Mt Gravatt Show Society was formed shortly after World War 1.
In about 1937, the Show Society ran seriously short of money (it owed about 450 pounds to the Bank of N.S.W. – now Westpac.) The Society arranged with the Brisbane City Council to take over the liability and the grounds and hold them in perpetuity for the Showground for park and recreational purposes with the Mt. Gravatt Show to have sole rights to the property for two weeks in each and every year for the purpose of holding the annual Show.
The following is an excerpt from the 1965 Chairman’s Message, ”…It is worthy of note that the Society originally owned the Mt. Gravatt Showgrounds, but handed it over on 20/9/1938 to the City Council who paid a liability thereon amounting to 475 pounds, seven shillings and six pence. The understanding was that the Society would continue to have the use and management of the grounds and all its profits are spent on improving the maintaining the area. It subleases part of the grounds to other organisations.”
The Show then enjoyed a smooth and successful run for a number of years until a dispute erupted between the Show Society and the Brisbane City Council. In 1973 after the annual show, all the buildings on the grounds were demolished. The dispute ended in May, 1978 when the Show Society obtained a Privy Council judgement over in England in its favour and the previous agreement with the Brisbane City Council was overturned. The State Government now owns the land and legislation. (“The Mt Gravatt Showground Act” – No.42 of 1988) has been effected which covers The Mt. Gravatt Trust which was set up to control the Showgrounds.
The dispute between the Show Society and the Brisbane City Council hit the headlines in the media in the 1970s and it is interesting to note that two prominent lawyers Tony Fitzgerald, Q.C. represented the Brisbane City Council and Bill Pincus (now a judge) represented the Show Society.
In the intervening years between the first annual Show in 1915 and the dispute with the Brisbane City Council in the 1970s, the Show’s tenure of the grounds was interrupted by the outbreak of World War 2 and the occupation of the showgrounds by the military. The year 1946 was the time for re-organisation after the release of the Show grounds from military occupation during 6 years of War (Sept. 1939-Aug. 1945). The show then enjoyed a smooth and successful number of years and it was then and is still now often referred to as “the dress rehearsal of the Exhibition” (1964 – Chairman’s Message, an excerpt from G.R, Hamlyn-Harris’s (chairman) Chairman’s message).
The show has changed a lot from its inception in 1915. Through the years there have been events for the school sports, dancing competitions, e.g. the Irish jig, the highland fling, etc., and sections for dairy produce, inventions, rodeo events, philately, wines, cavies, lithophily, farm produce, metal and woodwork, poultry and caged birds. There was an extensive cat section introduced in 1963 for all cat breeds but this eventually phased out.
People came from all over to visit the Mt. Gravatt. In 1947 there were special trams to Holland Park where buses would take passengers on to the Showgrounds.
The Mt. Gravatt Show still remains the “dress rehearsal” for the Royal National Show and will remain so for many years to come, through the generosity of business and public support.