Disney Studios Australia sits within Moore Park on the edge of the Sydney CBD, part of 360 hectares of urban parks known as Centennial Parklands. Centennial Parklands, Moore Park and the Disney Studios precinct contain exceptional national, state and local heritage significant sites built over its 200 year history since European settlement.
The Indigenous People who lived in the area on which the studio has been constructed are known as the Gadigal. Disney Studios Australia acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of the land.
The word Gadigal means ‘those who reside in the bay of Cadi’. The Gadigal lands formed a complex geology made up of dunes and wetlands. The rich soils influenced vegetation growth, leading to plant and animal resources becoming available to the Gadigal people. The area is representative of pre-colonial Indigenous meeting places used for social, ceremonial and other purposes. Present day Indigenous communities continue to honour the spiritual associations of the Gadi, celebrating interest in this history.
In 1811, 23 years after the founding of the Sydney colony, the land was proclaimed by then Governor Lachlan Macquarie as Sydney Common, devised as an area for use by the public which became popular for livestock grazing.
By the 1820s the Tank Stream, Sydney’s main supply of fresh water, was insufficient and polluted. Governor Darling appointed engineer and surveyor, John Busby to secure another water source for Sydney.
Between 1827 and 1837, Busby’s Bore was hand constructed by convict labourers. The bore was a gravity-fed tunnel built to deliver 1,500,000 litres of water per day to the city’s population of 20,000 people. The system remained in place as Sydney’s sole water supply until 1858. Today, one of the only remaining visible shafts is located within Disney Studios Australia.
Following public demand in 1867, part of the Sydney Common was allocated to Charles Moore, the Mayor of Sydney City Council, for use as public recreation.
Moore Park was created.
It was in the late 1880s that Moreton Bay fig plantings along Anzac Parade and surrounding roadways ingrained the distinct character of Moore Park.
By the end of the 19th Century, Moore Park was Sydney’s most popular sporting and entertainment precinct.
It was under the auspices of the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) from 1881 where the area flourished and was ultimately developed into a precinct for the rural industry to promote agricultural life in the city. The Showground, as it became known, became the home of one of the city’s most significant and popular cultural events, the annual Sydney Royal Easter Show.
The RAS held its first exhibition at the Showground in 1882, and grew over the next century to showcase the best in produce, livestock and the art and culture of rural industry. Over the next fifty years, the RAS expanded and built a series of grand exhibition halls and associated buildings to house the Show. Construction began on the Members Grandstand in 1924, with the Manufacturers Hall and Commemorative Pavilion beginning construction in 1938. A gift from the NSW Government, the Manufacturers Hall and Commemorative Pavilion were constructed to mark the 150th anniversary of the first fleet landing in Australia.
The central focus of the showgrounds layout was the grassed Parade Ring. The Parade Ring was modified in the course of an 1886 building program that included an extension of the Trotting Track to the west of the Parade Ring, now Park Road. Bent Street has been the central circulation path around the exterior of the Parade Ring throughout the Showground’s history.
Planning for the relocation of the Royal Agricultural Society to Homebush Bay began in 1988. The Royal Easter Show continued in Moore Park until 1998 when it was moved to a new showground in Homebush, when the Sydney Olympic Park precinct was being developed.
In 1996, Fox Studios Australia assumed the lease of the former Moore Park Showground. This saw the removal of various structures, the conservation of the buildings, spaces, road alignments, and landscapes of high heritage value, the construction of new buildings and modification of the road pattern. The substantial redevelopment and investment resulted in the transformation of the world-class film and television production facility that is it today.
The Members Grandstand, on the edge of the Showring was converted into an office building, which is now the home for many of the Studio’s partner businesses. Now known as the Frank Hurley Grandstand, it was named after the Australian photographer and adventurer who participated in several expeditions to Antarctica and served as an official photographer in WWI and WWII.
The studio has respectively retained the culture of the former showground, with the names of the ‘Cattle Judging Ring’, ‘Dog Judging Ring’, ‘Caretakers Cottage’ and ‘Bent Street’ remaining. The Manufacturers Hall and Commemorative Pavilion have been repurposed as Stage 1 and Stage 7 respectively.
In 2019, The Walt Disney Company acquired 20th Century Studios and many of its associated businesses. In October 2022, Fox Studios Australia entered a new era, renaming as Disney Studios Australia.
Disney Studios Australia, as the current caretakers of this historical part of Sydney, has ensured the preservation of buildings and landscape on the significant heritage listed site.
Art & Costume