EQ is Intriguing
History is written at EQ. The precinct that houses EQ has been part of Australia’s rich history for more than a century. The site has evolved over time. The fingerprints from a variety of eras and cultures that have touched the site are still evident today in both the architecture and the range of experiences that EQ offers visitors.
Our first Australians, the Eora people, and the traditional owners of the Sydney basin, the Cadigal Band, gathered here by virtue of the natural springs, which later became known as Lachlan Swamp.
These same springs attracted the first European settlers.
Back in early colonial times, the site was a sandy swamp known as The Common. In 1835-1936 it housed Sydney’s first water conduit, Busby’s Bore, some 10m below ground level.
In 1882, the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW held its first exhibition, which would later become known as the Sydney Royal Easter Show. This event was held at the EQ site for over 100 years.
In January 1901, the Federation of Australian States was declared here along with the proclamation of the Federal Constitution, where Australia’s first Governor General, Lord Hopetoun, was sworn in.
From 1920 – 1937, the grounds were further expanded to the north with the addition of a new square and judging rings. The dormant visual elements of the complex by this time were the peripheral walls, the Members’ Grandstand Clock Tower and the tower of the Anthony Hordern building, now the Byron Kennedy Hall.
The Main Arena at the Showground had been used as a Sydney Harness Racing venue.
From 1926 – 1996 the Showground’s Main Arena also doubled as the Sydney Showground Speedway, a dirt track speedway, officially known as Speedway Royale which claimed to be the fastest speedway in the world. Although solo motorcycles were first to race at the Showgrounds, they were soon joined by sidecars, speed cars and later Super Modifieds. In the 1950’s, stock cars began to appear and were joined much later by demolition derbies.
During this period, the EQ site became Sydney’s premier entertainment venue, playing host to major historical events including the first game of rugby league football , – NSW vs. New Zealand -, as well as the first Ashes Test in Australia.
When a rebellious Kerry Packer first put cricketers in ‘pyjamas’ and forever changed the game of cricket, he did it on the EQ site.
The venue has hosted concerts by many famous artists, including Led Zeppelin, ABBA, David Bowie, The Police and KISS.
In 1998, the site was leased to News Corporation on a 99 – year lease from the Government of NSW, and was used by Fox Studios Australia.
The site is now owned by Carsingha and is currently known as the Entertainment Quarter.