Blackley and Wallarah Ovals

A reader of this blog recently asked me about the history of the land where Wallarah and Blackley Ovals are located in New Lambton on Turton Rd. This is of relevance because of the current proposal to build a new basketball stadium on the site, resulting in the loss of two sporting fields. While there appears to be overwhelming consensus that a new basketball stadium is needed for Newcastle, there are many who are opposed to the Turton Rd site. (For my own view, read on to the end of this article.)

Wallarah and Blackley Ovals in New Lambton. SIX Maps

The area where the ovals are located was originally part of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, also known as the Commonage. As the name suggests, it was intended for the pasturing of livestock.  Although many people illegally built houses on the commonage land, virtually no housing was built on low level ground near waterways, because of flooding. From 1889 the NSW government began to sell off Commonage land.

The government legally dedicated (gazetted) various bits of land for particular purposes at various times. The first reference I can find to the Blackley Oval land was in 1899, when on 26 Apr 1899 Homestead Selection Area 585 was gazetted. This consisted of multiple portions of land within the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve, including portions 2376 to 2380.  But curiously just a few months later on 19 Jul 1899, Homestead Selection Area 585 was revoked, and the government retained ownership of the land.

Parish map showing revocation of Homestead selection area of portions 2376 to 2380 on 19 July 1899. Historical Land Records Viewer

Although sale of Commonage land into private hands had been happening since 1889, a 1910 map shows almost no houses alongside the waterway – but mainly parks and pastures. The area of Blackley/Wallarah ovals is marked with the symbol for “Pasture and Furze”.

Barrett’s 1910 map shows very few buildings in the land adjoining the waterway. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.

On 28 June 1935 Portions 2379 and 2380 were legally reserved for public recreation.

Parish map from Historical Land Records Viewer

A 1938 aerial photograph shows a sporting field at the location of Blackley Oval.

1938 aerial photograph showing a sports field at the site of Blackley Oval. University of Newcastle, Living Histories.

A 1944 aerial photograph shows a sporting oval (Blackley) and WW2 gun emplacements (possibly decoy guns) where Wallarah Oval is today.

1944 aerial photograph, NSW Historical Aerial Imagery.

In 1948, Newcastle Council approved the naming of “Blackley Oval” …

An application by Newcastle Police and Citizens’ Boys’ Club to have land at District Park known as Quinlan and Blackley Ovals (previously Nos. 9 and 10 ovals) vested in the club was granted by Greater Newcastle Council last night.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 17 March 1948.

This snippet indicates that Blackley Oval originally had the unimaginative name of “No. 10 Oval”. Was the No. 9 oval (renamed to Quinlan oval) the field to the west of Blackley Oval? If so when and why was it renamed to Wallarah Oval? I suspect it was not, as a 1954 aerial photograph shows that the only field north of the drain is Blackley Oval.

1954 aerial photograph, NSW Historical Aerial Imagery.

A 1966 aerial photograph shows new fields at Ford Oval and Arthur Edden Oval, but still no field at the location of Wallarah Oval.

1966 aerial photograph, NSW Historical Aerial Imagery.

By 1974 there are sports fields at the location of Wallarah Oval, and Lambton High School has been built.

1974 aerial photograph, NSW Historical Aerial Imagery.

The Geographical Names Board assigned the name “Wallarah Ovals” to the sporting reserve in December 1977.

My view on the proposed location

Like most people, I agree that a new basketball stadium is needed. But I strongly disagree with the currently proposed location on Turton Rd, for three main reasons.

  1. Green space is precious. Once green space is lost to development, it is never regained. With global temperatures rising, if we are to have cities that are pleasant to live in we must be super vigilant and protective of green space.
  2. The proposal benefits one sporting code at the expense of other sporting codes who currently use those fields. The proposal is a “rob Peter to pay Paul” scenario.
  3. Parking and traffic in the area is already problematic when there is a big event on at Hunter Stadium. If the basketball stadium was built across the road, and both venues had an event at the same time the traffic situation would be a nightmare.

So if not Turton Rd, then where could a new basketball stadium be built? Looking at the map I wonder about the old gasworks site in Hamilton North. It’s close to the sporting/entertainment precinct at Broadmeadow, is close to public transport, does not take away green space, and has oodles of room for parking. There may be good reasons why this location is not practical (cost, availability, engineering limitations), but it would be worth considering.

Proposed site of new basketball stadium in Turton Rd. (Yellow outline). Possible location in Hamilton North? (Green outline). Google Earth.

Still no drinks for miners

Yesterday was the annual “Voice for Mining” day at the Knights home game at Hunter Stadium, but as in past years, they’re still not letting those hard working employees enjoy a game day beverage. Listen for yourself.

Maybe it was this amber ale injustice that the crowd was booing about at half time? No. Wait. That was for the Knights abysmal wooden spoon worthy first half performance.



The real NRL betting scandal

Tim Simona. Photo by Naparazzi.

Tim Simona is suffering from a drug and gambling addiction, and the NRL has quite rightly deregistered him from playing rugby league.

But the hypocrisy of the NRL is almost excruciating, as it remains silent on its own gambling addiction.

Consulting the website of each of the 16 NRL teams in 2017 shows that 13 of them are sponsored by gambling or betting corporations, the only three clubs not directly sponsored by gambling being the Newcastle Knights, Penrith Panthers, and Canterbury Bulldogs.

Club Sponsored by
Manly Sea Eagles Lottoland
Canberra Raiders
North Queensland Cowboys Ubet
Wests Tigers Crownbet
Sydney Roosters
South Sydney Rabbitohs Crown Resorts (Casino), Luxbet
Parramatta Eels
Melbourne Storm Crown Resorts (Casino)
New Zealand Warriors SkyCity Casino, TAB NZ
Brisbane Broncos Ladbrokes
Cronulla Sharks Crownbet
St George Illawarra Dragons Ainsworth Game Technology, South Coast Gaming Machines
Gold Coast Titans Ladbrokes

King of the culprits in this infamous list is the Manly Sea Eagles, who, in a move that is in equal parts pernicious and embarrassing, renamed their home ground from “Brookvale Oval” to “Lottoland”.

In 1992 the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act was passed to ban the tobacco industry from sponsoring sport. It’s time that similar legislation is enacted to rid our sporting landscape of the scourge of gambling advertising.

A message for all time

I had a very confusing message notification on my phone this morning, where for a single event the notification contained all three words “yesterday”, “today”, and “tomorrow”.

It took me a while to realise that it was an notification from yesterday about the tomorrow of yesterday, which is today.

Having worked all that out, I did indeed make it to the game today to see the Knights beat the Titans 34 – 26, including a great contribution from Nathan Ross, who scored the match winning try in the 78th minute.  Well done Knights.

Nathan Ross, after the Knights 34-26 win over the Titans.

A voice for mining (but no drinks)

I enjoyed seeing a gutsy Newcastle Knights defeat the Penrith Panthers this afternoon at Hunter Stadium to go to the top of the NRL ladder.

Today’s match was the “Voice For Mining” round, so I got some slight amusement when I heard the stadium announcer remind us that …

“Hunter Stadium is a responsible server of alcohol … it is an offence to supply alcohol to miners …”


Unsolved mysteries of the modern world

Now that the mystery of Area 51 has been cleared up, here’s 2 modern mysteries still desperately awaiting explanation …

  1. How can a campaign launch possibly be called a ‘launch’ when it happens 60% into an election campaign (Coalition) or even 80% into the campaign (Labor)?
  2. In this day and age of modern electrical lighting, when various cricket matches are regularly played at nighttime, how is it possible for a Test match to be called to a close due to bad light?