UNSW Canberra Oval has a rich and diverse history starting back as early as the 1920s when Manuka Circle Park was an open field.
In 1926 and 1927 the cricket association, bodies representing football as well as local sporting associations made numerous approaches to the Federal Capital Commission to have the area enclosed. However, it was not until March 1929 that major work formally commenced on UNSW Canberra Oval. The open field was graded, grass sown, a turf pitch laid, and wire mesh fence erected around the perimeter. The first cricket pitch was played on in April 1930.
In 1962, the Bradman pavilion was constructed and named in honour of the great cricketer, Don Bradman who first played at UNSW Canberra Oval against Mailers ‘Bohemians’.
In 1979, the ACT Administration decided to develop UNSW Canberra Oval primarily for cricket. The pitches were re-laid with couch grass.
In the early 1980s the original scoreboard from the Melbourne Cricket Ground was installed at UNSW Canberra Oval. Relocated to the Oval when the MCG installed the first electronic board, it was named the Jack Fingleton Scoreboard, after the late Australian opening batsman who made his career as a political journalist in the corridors of Parliament House, just kilometres away.
In 1987 and 1992 the spectator areas at the northern and eastern side of the oval were reconstructed. The two grandstands were named after two Prime Ministers who brought international cricket teams to Canberra on 16 occasions, and were named the Robert Menzies stand and the Bob Hawke stand by Dame Patti Menzies and Mr. Hawke in 1992.
In 2012 the AFL and the Greater Western Sydney GIANTS partnered with the ACT government to redevelop UNSW Canberra Oval. The redevelopment aligned with the GIANTS introduction into the AFL national competition and has seen the introduction of light towers for twilight/night matches as well as new reserved seating within the eastern Hill Stands.
A lowering of the field for better drainage and additional rows of seats being added has seen the capacity of the oval grow to above 16,000 including standing room. Further developments are planned for the future in order to ensure UNSW Canberra Oval remains a premier sporting venue for Australia’s two most popular sports within our nation’s capital.