Almanac History: Old Grandstands

How’s this for a makeshift grandstand!


A makeshift grandstand at Beech Forest in the Otways. Circa 1893.


My wife Meryl volunteers at the Colac Historical Centre, came across this photo and thought it would be of interest to Footy Almanac readers.


The photo is undated but probably comes from the late 1800s or very early 1900s judging by the attire of the people in the photograph.


Well dressed, many in collars and ties, and bonnets suggests they are at a special occasion, perhaps a race meeting.  A gent at the front is holding a card/booklet in his hand, (perhaps a race card?) while another appears to have a bookie type bag around his neck supporting the notion it is possibly at a race meeting.


Another possibility is when the narrow gauge railway from Colac to Beech Forest opened in 1902 which would have been a special occasion for the locals hence their attendance in their very best.


Some people are seen holding musical instruments with a closer look at the image indicating a band in attendance further suggests a special occasion and likely the opening of the railway.




Since writing the above the following notice has come to my attention, it is a race meeting, the first ever in Beech Forest in 1893.





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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. What a beauty Colin. Not sure I’d lean too heavily against the railings!

    What would think of the modern MCG? Or the inside stadiums like Docklands?

    Blokes in the front row look as proud as punch!

  2. Awesome photo Col

  3. Kevin Densley says

    What a beauty, Col! I love old grandstands – a lot better than most of the new ones, actually.

    And I thought one of the wooden grandstands at Corio Oval, Geelong (where I’d often sit and watch the harness races as a kid) was rickety!

  4. When I was a mere lad, many, many moons ago, my father took me to the Norwood Oval one Wednesday night to see the Night baseball that had captured the imagination of Adelaideians. We were lucky enough to find seats in the grandstand. After being there for a little time I asked Dad why was it called a grandSTAND when every one was seated. Dad was stumped. Your initial photo Colin (incidentally my late Dad’s name was also Colin) goes a long way in explaining it.

  5. That’s a cracker, Col.
    I have actually seen that one previously, in one of the local Otway Facebook groups.

  6. Rod Oaten says

    Col, Loved the photo what a beauty.. I have always been interested in old grandstands and there are quite a few around the suburbs of Melbourne, especially old VFA grounds.
    One vintage grandstand I noticed when touring Tasmania with our A’van a few years ago. I think it was between Queenstown and Derwant Bridge. There must have been a town with a footy club many years before. There it was, sitting in a flat area reclaimed by the forest, a small Grandstand. Passing by you could see the paint had long since peeled off and the wooden structures had seen better days.
    I wish I had taken a photo and remembered exactly where it was.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant photo Col. I note the old footy/cricket ground at Beech Forest is called Ditchley Park, presume it’s the same venue? Interesting how many small racing clubs there were many years ago.

  8. Peter Fuller says

    Wonderful find, Col and congratulations on your follow-up research to determine the event. Like Smokey, I have an inkling that I’ve seen the photo or one similar on the Colac-Otway History FB page, which resonates for me with its frequent photos of the district where I spent my childhood.

  9. The Emerald Hill Chronicle says

    What a great pic Col. Takes me back to days of playing footy ( as a visitor, for the mighty Winchelsea Blues) at Otway Districts. The showers were from the same era!

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