History of horses at Eltham Lower Park
There is a long and significant history of horses at our home grounds of Eltham Lower Park.
From the early 1850s horse racing meetings were held on 10 acres of land partly cleared by the residents.
Gazettal as a race course and recreation ground occurred in 1865.
A further 10 acres were
added in 1866 and a further 12 acres (Hohnes Hill) were added in 1870. Government plans show the changing use of the park with various gazettals under different
titles. By 1877 it was called a public park which perhaps indicated that horse racing was in decline by that time. However there are still people in Eltham who can remember horse racing and training continuing into the 1920s. The connection with horse riding has continued.
In the mid 1900s a circuit road around the park was used for trotting training. In 1953 the Eltham Pony Club was established to cater for the significant local population of
young people with horse riding interests. In those days the club used a larger area of the park with a cross country course on Hohnes Hill.
From the mid 1950s the club held the Eltham Easter Fair at the park. Later the fair was named ERSILAC and included a
procession along Main Road from the town centre to the park.
Then… and now…
Eastern Region, as it was known then, was set up in 1977 and was one of the earliest Adult Riding Clubs ; as the name suggests, it catered to everyone in the Eastern Region of Melbourne, and riders travelled long distances to attend, some even rode to and from the park on horseback. This continued until the late 90s. The Pony Club and ARC were regular Eltham Parade Attendees.
The park’s mix of bushland environment, more formal park facilities and sporting grounds
has proved very popular over many years. The Diamond Valley Miniature Railway is a significant feature of the park today and certainly is a major attraction for visitors. The railway moved to the park in 1961 from its
original location in Ivanhoe.