Slacky Flat set for transformation as greyhound racing plans for move from Bulli to Dapto

SLACKY Flat Park will be restored as the north’s premier recreation venue, hosting concerts and festivals, markets, retail shows, family events and sport, under plans put forward by Wollongong City Council.

The draft Bulli Showground Master Plan has been endorsed by Council for community engagement, enabling the public to have an input into what a new and improved Slacky Flat may look like.

Council has been given an opportunity to invest in more opportunities at Bulli Showground with NSW Greyhounds planned move to Dapto.

What’s your thoughts on the future of Slacky Flat Park?

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Slacky Flat has a long history associated with sport and recreation in the Bulli district.

In 1895 the Illawarra Mercury reported that Slacky Flat, “now that it is covered in grass”, was being used for picnics and other social events.

The Bulli and Thirroul Cricket Clubs were photographed playing a match on the ‘Flat’ in 1908, but it was Bulli Soccer Club that is credited with establishing the ground as the area’s premier sporting venue.

Slacky Flat was the home ground to Coledale and Bulli for many years during the 1920s and attracted hundreds of spectators when it hosted the Gardeners Cup.

During the 1930s the publican of the Bulli Family Hotel, which sponsored Woonona Bulli Soccer Club, leased Slacky Flat from the Bulli Coal Company.

After a campaign from the Bulli Progress Association, the Bulli Shire Council purchased 50 acres of land at Slacky Flat from the Bulli Coal Company in 1939 for £500 to establish a recreation ground, which eventually lead to its development as the Shire’s premier sporting ground.

The first greyhound race meeting was held at Slacky Flat on November 4 1950, attracting over 2,000 people.

By the 1960s, a horse track, featuring harness racing, joined greyhound racing at the grounds, as well as the addition of a substantial concrete and brick grandstand, and amenities rooms.

The Bulli Show Society, formed in 1952, held their first show at the grounds in 1953. The annual event staged its last show in 2018, and the pavilion is now home to a men’s shed.

Since the last harness race at Slacky Flat Park in 2012, Council has predominately leased the grounds to the NSW Greyhound Breeders Owners & Trainers Association.

Council’s draft Master Plan guides the future uses of the site and explains what upgrades Council is considering.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said Council have spoken with a number of key stakeholders, including local sporting clubs, market operators, Destination Wollongong, commercial event organisers, the current lessee, Greyhounds NSW and community members to develop the draft Master Plan.

“There’s a lot of interest in Bulli Showground from the community,” he said.

“I think that people are recognising the potential for Bulli Showground to become an area that supports concerts and festivals, markets, retails shows, family events and as a sports training location and space for extreme or emerging sports activities.”

The draft Master Plan has been developed to support a range of uses and includes:

  • Removal of greyhound racing infrastructure to make room for a reconfigured multi-use space
  • Removal of the main building & grandstand
  • Reconstructed grass arena with a rectangular configuration with sub-surface drainage and irrigation works enabling multiple sized sports playing areas
  • A northern hardstand area for major stage and event infrastructure set up
  • New floodlighting for night-time use
  • New amenities & storage that are suitable for accommodating multiple users
  • New large, covered area suitable for events and markets
  • New building suitable with multi-use areas catering for events, commercial activities, indoor training, amenities
  • Consolidated carparking areas
  • Investigation to incorporate a dump point within the Showground
  • A small park located on the southern area of the showground that could be utilised for active recreation opportunities.

 “Now that we’ve drafted the Master Plan, we’ll soon be calling for feedback. This is your opportunity to see what Council is proposing and get involved,” Cr Bradbery said.

“We want to know what you think about the ideas we’re presenting in the draft Master Plan. Have we gotten it right? Have we missed anything? You’ll have your opportunity to share feedback soon. So, keep this very significant project on your radar.”

The engagement will be shared on the Our Wollongong website soon. Also, updates will be posted on the City of Wollongong Facebook page.

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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