Many of the Reserve’s regulars will have recently noticed some important upgrades as we work towards transforming the Reserve into a safe, accessible, and enjoyable space for everyone.
The transformation of the Reserve was made possible and started in 2018 when the Victorian Government committed to removing horse training within the Reserve by 2023 and provide greater use and access to the community. Training ceased in December 2021 and prior to this the inside of the Reserve was only open to the public between 9:30am and 1pm and 4pm to sunset.
The Reserve was largely dedicated to horse training with a range of synthetic, sand and turf tracks utilised on a daily basis. The existing off leash dog area was in place and much of the Reserve was restricted to Authorised Personnel, including the Southern Dam.
In 2022, once the trainers had ceased operating within the Reserve, the MRC undertook major works to remove much of the previous training infrastructure and construct a new track which was completed in August this year. This was a significant milestone that handed back a large amount of land on the inside of the Reserve.
Appointed by the Minister for Environment on 1st August 2018, the current Trust came into effect and is responsible for the planning, development, management, operation and use of the Reserve for the purposes of racing, recreation and public park in accordance with the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Act 2017.
While many of the initiatives within the Trust’s Strategic Management Plan will take time to develop and deliver, the Trust has and will continue to deliver a range of upgrades in the coming months to make it an accessible, vibrant, flexible and inclusive space. This includes more community focussed events like the Caulfield and Elsternwick Rotary Market, school sports activities, temporary activations and better recreation facilities.
Recent upgrades have included the installation of pedestrian barriers and increased lighting in the Glen Eira Tunnel, the removal of legacy horse training infrastructure and horse pool, new and updated signage and wayfinding, a new fence around the Southern Dam and the installation of vehicle and traffic management infrastructure.
Prior to COVID, the previously constrained access and dominance of horse training within the Reserve meant it was a relatively unknown and under utilised space. Post COVID and with the construction now complete we are pleased to see more people returning to the Reserve and many of the areas that were previously inaccessible starting to regenerate and flourish.
With an increased focus on creating a space for everyone, much of our initial activities have been focussed on safety. This includes additional signage to ensure people are aware of their responsibilities. It is important to note that this signage is not introducing any new rules or regulations. As is the case with other local parks, dog owners need to maintain control of their dogs, have a leash and poo bags on hand and respect other users of the Reserve.
We will soon be installing gates at the northern end of the leash area to ensure that it is fully enclosed, and we are also looking at other upgrades within the off-leash area to make it a more enjoyable space.
The Reserve is embarking on an exciting transformation and we will be providing more updates in the coming weeks and months.