The Old Kangaroo Valley Agriculture and Horticulture Showgrounds

The Kangaroo Valley A & H Show was not held at Osborne Park until 1956.

The “Town and Country Journal” dated of 17th February 1909 in an article titled “In the Rich Kangaroo Valley - the District and the Show”, reports in a conversation with a popular old resident, Mr. James Campbell, (foundation President of the Kangaroo Valley Agricultural and Horticultural Association) in which he says the Association was formed in the year 1881. Mr. Campbell was a businessman in Kangaroo Valley and in every respect a very public minded citizen.

The Old Showground 1907

The Old Showground 1907
The Show Pavilion can be seen in the left. This building was dismantled and relocated to Osborne Park for use from 1956 and still stands today.

The public meeting held sometime in the year 1881 agreed to form the Association and the venue was the Church of England school room. Mr. Campbell himself presided over the meeting. The proceedings were characterised by a lot of enthusiasm by reason of the fact that although the settlers of Kangaroo Valley themselves were not jealous of the results obtained by the holding of annual shows in Nowra and Berry, many of the people in those districts, whilst not exactly ridiculing the idea of a mere handful of people as the Valley’s population comprised at the time, trying to organise an Agricultural Show, considered the move a presumptuous one, and were curious to see what small degree of success would attend it. This feeling of course, put the Kangaroo Valley folk on their mettle, and every farmer there laid himself out, not only to assist in establishing the Society, but to bring about the success of the initial show.

The meeting unanimously decided upon the establishment of the Association, fixed the membership fee at 10s 6d and decided for the election of a committee of management. This business was dealt with at a subsequent meeting, where Mr. Campbell was elected President, Mr. W. Black, Vice President, and Mr. W. J. Miller, Secretary.

Old Showgrounds 1953

Old Showgrounds 1953

The first show was held in 1885 and turned out an “unqualified success” with many visitors from Illawarra centres declaring it to have been much beyond their expectations. The site of the show was a piece of land on the bank of the river at the rear of what was then known as the Commercial Hotel, now the Friendly Inn. The livestock exhibits were paraded there, while exhibits of fruit, farm produce etc., were set out in the Church of England School Hall. In the following year the Society held its second show on the same site on the bank of the river and erected there an improvised structure to house the pavilion exhibits. It also held its third show there, and then shifted to a ground leased from the Osborne Estate and situated at the east end of the village. The grounds, which embraced an area of approximate1y 10.5 acres, and were picturesquely located, were first held on a 10 years’ lease from the late Mr. Alex Osborne who lived at Barrengarry when the show was started. At the expiration of the lease, a further fifteen years was obtained.

Brooks Family picnic

Brooks Family picnic - circa 1914

The Association effected substantial improvements on the grounds, erecting a pavilion, cattle yards, and horse stalls. Mr. Campbell’s record of service as President of the Kangaroo Valley A. & H. Association for 24 years, is something of a NSW State record, equalled only by Mr. H. O. Cox O.B.E, who served two terms as President of the Society, from 1936 to 1943, and from 1945 to 1964. While Mr. Cox was President, the Kangaroo Valley A. & H. Association relocated its showground to its present site at Osborne Park, an all-purpose ground centrally situated in the township. The first show in Osborne Park was held in 1956 and was marked by torrential rain. Despite the downpour, the show was described as a success, being greeted with enthusiasm by all who attended, even though the grounds could only be described as a quagmire.