Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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Now known as the Mackie Oval this area was originally known as the ‘Cow Paddock’ due, unsurprisingly, to the grazing of cows here, although much earlier, it was known as the ‘Football Paddock’.

George Morrison’s personal assistant Hugh Mackay is alleged to have urged Morrison to buy this property which he did in 1880. The Cow Paddock included a large section of land running from Noble St, north to a line just behind the present Austin Gray Centre. It did not include the blocks facing Claremont Avenue. Its western boundary bordered Warrinn and its eastern boundary was close to the line of the War Memorial Wing. It originally had a line of pine trees running north-south marking its boundary with the original school block.

In 1891 when Norman Morrison commenced as Vice-Principal the ‘Cow Paddock’ was ploughed, filled and graded and by about 1892 it was fit for football. Matches were transferred from the Argyle Ground to the ‘Cow Paddock’ at about this time and it became the seniors football ground. It continued as the principle ground until the construction of the Main Oval in 1904 following the purchase of ‘Paddy’ Rook’s Paddock.

After 1905 it was used for two sports fields - a Junior Ground abutting All Saints Church and a larger Middle Practice Ground between it and Warrinn. This lasted until part of the Junior Ground was used for construction of tennis courts in 1912. The Middle Practice ground was much later re-constructed as part of the Mackie Oval. The purchase of ‘Bartlett’s Paddock’ in 1908 was to eventually allow the development of the Preparatory School Oval which has, in its turn evolved into Rankin Field.

At the time of the purchase of the School by the Presbyterian Church from the Morrison’s in 1908, the cows were valued at £65. In 1926, the Council considered the question of the School Dairy and 'it was found that the cost of feeding five cows, horse and poultry for 1925 was £143, while the cost of purchasing 60 quarts of specially brine cooled milk daily for nine months only £280. It was decided to continue with our own cows for a further term.’ Not until March of 1932, did the School Council finally ‘' 'dispose of the College Cows’ and obtain its supply from the farm of Mr Moore.

In the early years of the House sporting competitions at Senior School the football competition was known as the ‘Cow Paddock Competition’ For a short time after the construction of the Preparatory School Oval and the Mackie Oval the small triangle of land between them was also known as the ‘Cow Paddock’. During World War II, air-raid shelter trenches were constructed in the Cow Paddock.

Sources: Notman, G. C. and Keith, B. R. The Geelong College 1861-1961 p 16; Council Minutes,19 February 1926.''

View across the Cow Paddock in about 1917 with cows grazing in the background (Delaney)

View across the Cow Paddock in about 1917 with cows grazing in the background (Delaney)

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