History of Ice Rinks and Ice Skating in Australia

The history of ice rinks and ice skating in Australia is not that long due to Australia’s climate and weather. The first official dates for the start of ice skating in Australia is 1904. In September 1904, the first artificial ice skating rink “the Glaciarium” opened in Adelaide, South Australia. There have been un-supported reports of a Sydney rink on Pitt Street in the late 1870s-early 1880s, which research has not been able to corroborate. The Glaciarium in Adelaide was only open for about a year and today is the home of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Newman Reid was said to be a pioneer of national ice sports and the founder of ice hockey in Australia. Reid was born in 1862 in Rochester, Kent. He was apart of the entrepreneurial syndicate that established the first ice rink in Australia, the Adelaide Glaciarium in 1904. Reid’s syndicates then went on to build the first ice rinks in Melbourne 1906 and Sydney 1907. “His world-class facilities for figure skating, speed skating and ice hockey were built with venture capital over a century ago and produced the first two generations of National ice champions, and many others who represented Australia at Olympic and World Championships”.
Mr. Dunbar Poole, a Scot, arrived in Adelaide around 1903 to find a group of like minded people interested in ice skating. This included future manager Newman Reid. They opened the rink in Adelaide in a building formerly used as cyclorama with the refrigeration being piped many metres from an ice works down the street.
The Sunday times newspaper article from July, 1907 introduces the first Sydney Glaciarium. The article states that ice skating is now not limited to those in “chilly districts”. A Sydney Morning Herald article from later that month also speaks of the Sydney Glacirarium opening. This article describes the rink below;
“Skating on the frozen lake to an Englishman is a pleasant and healthful exercise, but it is a pastime that is not easily obtainable in sunny Now South Wales, especially in the busy thoroughfares of a city like Sydney. Consequently in introducing ice skating to this city the management of the Glaclarium hopes to awaken pleasant memories in the minds of those who have previously skated in the fens of the motherland, and at the same time to raise a keen interest in this pastime in the minds of the people of Sydney who up to the present have known no other method than that of roller skating.”
Sydney Glaciarium
The timeline below shows some of the ice rinks operating in Australia prior to the 1970s. All Ice Rinks opened prior to the 1970s are closed, leaving Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink, the longest running ice rink in Australia. It opened it 1971, and will soon be celebrating its 50 year anniversary.
1904-1908 Adelaide Glaciarium
1906-1923 Melbourne Glaciarium
1907-1955 Sydney Glaciarium
1938-1951 Ice Palais – Sydney Showground
1939-1981 St Moritz Ice Rink – Melbourne
1949-1955 Perth Ice Palais
1959-1996/7 Prince Alfred Park ice skating rink – Sydney
1960-1963 Bondi Junction Ice Rink
1963-late 1970s Hindley Street Ice Skating Rink – Adelaide
1963-1982 Premier Ice Rink – Perth
1964-1969 Burwood Glaciarium

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Importance of Working with the Community

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One of the Oxford Dictionary definitions of ‘community’ is “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common”. In the early weeks of History Beyond the Classroom, we had a discussion about communities. Which communities we thought we were apart of, and what communities we would like to work with for our major project. When I heard the word ‘community’ I immediately thought of the ice rink. I’ve chosen Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink as the community group I’ll be working with over the semester.
Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink has been the home to and fostered a community for 45 years. I’ve been a part of this community of six years now. Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink is the home to many sporting clubs from figure, syncro, hockey and speed. In my community work with the ice rink, I will be assisting in archiving the history of the creation of the ice rink and the co-op. The rink has had a dynamic history over the past 45 years, and has only been able to survive due to the community supporting it, and donating their time and efforts to ensuring the rink lives on for the next generation of skaters.
Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink is a not-for-profit organisation that offers a space for training and recreational skating. The idea for the ice rink in Canterbury began at the Malvern Hall Methodist Church Hall in Croydon. John R.E. Brown, who became the first chairman and was one of the three founding members of the co-op, spoke to the ice skating community and proposed a new rink in Canterbury. The Burwood Glaciarium Rink had just closed down, and this was why a co-op had to be formed to ensure the new rink wouldn’t close down privately. Fifty people agreed to join to co-op at $20 per person for the first year.
The challenge then began to find $73,000 to ensure a continued training place for the western Sydney ice skating community. A year later, after many struggles with councils, and funds, the ice rink opened its doors on Friday March 5, 1971. This wouldn’t have been able to happen without the help of countless volunteers who spent so much of their time and energy into building a rink that would serve the community, and be a community for many years to come.
The rink has grown and changed so much over the past 45 years. The original entry price for a public skating session was 80 cents for children and $1.20 for adults. The image shown is an article from the Australian Women’s Weekly in 1971, which documents the opening of the ice rink and the impact volunteers and community members had.
More information: http://www.canterburyolympicicerink.org.au/ https://www.facebook.com/CanterburyOlympicIceRink/
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