Situated 3km south of Melbourne CBD, Albert Park and Albert Park Lake could be termed as Melbourne’s Vitality Point acknowledging the extend of physical activities undertaken here. This 560-acre parkland including the lake was used to be the meeting place of Aboriginal clans, before the European settlement. Today the open space is used by people from surrounding suburbs which include Middle Park, St Kilda, South Melbourne and Albert Park. Approximately five million people visit or use the facilities at the park every year. The Parkland and the lake provide habitat for nearly 200 bird species. Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre located at the Parkland has International level swimming and sports facilities
Brief description of facilities available
The Park is centred around the lake which is slightly more than 1.6km in length occupying around 49ha of land. It is used by rowing and sailing clubs and for recreational fishing. Many types of bird varieties make this home depending on the season. Black Swans are a tourist attraction here.
The main attractive feature of the park is the open lawn on the edge of the water decorated by established Palm trees. Along it passes the Aquatic Drive. Many of the community walks and runs are organised at this area.
Picnic Area: There is a picnic area known as Coot Picnic area, located near the lake side stadium which can be easily accessed from Albert Road. It has seating area, Pavilion, BBQ facility, toilets and playgrounds. Swan Picnic Area located on the north- eastern part of the lake also has similar facilities which also can be accessed from Albert Road Drive. There is an informal picnic area with BBQ at the Western side of the park known as Ibis Picnic area. Grebe Picnic Area located at the south-western edge have sporting equipment, BBQ and seating facilities.
Lake Side Stadium: Now known as Bob Jane Stadium, it has a soccer pitch and Athletic track. Stadium can be accessed from Albert Park Drive or Aughtie Drive
There is an 18-hole public golf course located on the eastern edge of Albert Park which can be accessed from Lakeside Drive.
Middle Park Bowling Club is at the western edge of the park and can be accessed via Aughtie Drive. There is a community playground nearby. Bill Woodfull Oval mainly used by football and Cricket Clubs are also located at the Western Side. Altogether there are 21 ovals and fields at the park used by Men and Women Soccer, rugby and Cricket Clubs. The Carmelite Tennis Club with 5 enclosed tennis courts is located on the western side of the park close to Middle Park tram station. Albert Reserve Tennis Courts with 9 sealed courts, which was home to the first Australian Open is located on the northern side of Albert Reserve. It can be accessed by Hanna Street. The MCC Tennis courts are located on the south east corner of Albert Reserve. Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre has an indoor pool, outdoor pool, diving facilities, 10 squash courts, 12 badminton courts, 27 table tennis tables, 10 basketball courts and 3 volleyball courts. It also hosted 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2007 12th FINA World Swimming Championships.
The park also houses Albert Sailing Club, The boat shed sailing School and Hire, Albert Park Yacht Club, Middle Park Bowling Club, Grand Prix Pit Building, Lord Somers Camp, Power House and the Y Rowing Club, MCC Tennis Club and the St Kilda Sports Club.
There are many car parks around the Park and Parking fees applies to all car parks.
The Australian Grand Prix is held on the Labour Day weekend in March at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit .
In the month of May every year RSPCA organises Million Paws Walk that will gather dog lovers from across the nation to fight against animal cruelty.
The Albert Sailing Club holds regular regattas on Saturdays.
A 5km timed Park run is organised every Saturday at 8am which starts from the Coot Picnic area
History of Albert Park Lake
There used to be a salt lagoon where the Albert Park lake is today and the area around it was originally part of the extensive Yarra River Delta.
The earliest available description of Albert Park Lake is by James Flemming from his “A journal of the exploration of Charles Grimes” 1802-1803, when he passed through the area on 2nd February 1803. He described the lake as a salt lagoon about a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide.
“At the usual time the same party as yesterday, with the addition of the doctor, went on shore; for about a mile the land dry, a light sandy soil; afterwards a large swamp, with three lagoons in it, all dry. The land appears to be covered with water in wet seasons. Came to a salt lagoon about a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide; had not entrance to the sea. Soon afterwards came to a large river; went up it about a mile when we turned back and waited for the boat to take us on board. The ground is a swamp on one side and high on the other. Saw many swans, pelicans, and ducks. Were obliged to go up to our middle to get to the boat and got on board between five and six o’clock. Rain and thunder in the night”
In 1844 Melbourne City Council petitioned the Government to reserve a land for public recreational purposes. On 20th June 1853, a resolution was moved at the Melbourne City Council Meeting requesting the Mayor to make an application to the Government to grand the corporation the tract of land lying between Government Domain and the Bay,for the creation of a park, which was already marked by the City Surveyor as Home Park.
Albert Park Lake area was the former mouth of the Yarra River. To turn the lagoon existed in the area into a lake fit for regatta and other recreational purposes required to deepen it in certain areas and fill it with water from Yarra River. In 1863, a road was constructed through the park connecting Emerald Hill (South Melbourne) and St Kilda.
By 1864, rowing boats were introduced and permissive occupancy for rowing clubs with boat houses were established. Facilities for other sports like Cricket, Bowling and football were also established. Open spaces were taken up by Football, Hockey, Tennis and Junior Cricket Clubs, but later the Council refused to allow such occupancy.
In 1870 first pleasure boat was launched and the same year a boating race was also conducted.
It was originally called South Park Lagoon became known as Albert Park Lagoon in 1872, named after Queen Victoria’s concert Prince Albert and in the 1930’s became known as Albert Park Lake. In 1876, Government issued permanent reservation of 570 acres including the 120 acres of lake, for a park to the South Melbourne and St Kilda Corporations and the Board of Land and Works. But in 1886, the management of the park was taken away from the Board of Land and works and transferred to a committee. In 1992 the management of the Park was transferred to Melbourne water and in 1998 to Parks Victoria.
A rubbish tip was established at the western side of the park in 1896 by the South Melbourne Council and another was established at the eastern side in 1906. Both the tips were closed in the 1950’s.
Until 1909, Cattle grazing was allowed at certain parts of the park but horse grazing continued until the late 1950’s. The army barrack constructed in 1943 at the St Kilda end of the park was in use until 1979.
In 1996 Sports and Aquatic Centre was opened at the Park.
Address: Lakeside Drive, Albert Park 3206
Contact Phone: Parks Victoria 13 1963
Opening Hours: It is open 24 hours 365 days
How to reach there by Public Transport: Take Tram Number 12, 96 and 16 from CBD that will run past the park
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