History of the RNA

The Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA) was established in 1875 with Governor Sir William Cairns as its President.

Bowen Park was chosen in January 1876 as the site for the first Show. The 'Intercolonial Exhibition of 1876', held from August 22-26 proved a great success. A public holiday was declared and an estimated 15,000-17,000 people attended the opening day - a great feat at a time when the total population of Brisbane was just 20,600.

The first 'Royal' Show was held in 1921, when the Association was granted the prefix under warrant from His Majesty King George V. Since then, the shortened name 'Ekka' has replaced 'Exhibition' in the Queensland vernacular.

The Ekka continues to be Queensland's biggest and most anticipated yearly event and continues to achieve its aim of connecting Queenslanders of all ages - from the country to the city and from all walks of life.

OUR EVOLUTION

 

1875:  THE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL AND INDUSTRIAL ASSOCIATION OF QUEENSLAND

  • The 'National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland' was formed by a group of colonists.

1876:  THE FIRST EXHIBITION

  • The Intercolonial Exhibition of 1876 was held at Bowen Park with an estimated 15,000-17,000 attending out of Brisbane's population at the time of just 20,600.
  • The first exhibition building was erected.

1878:  THE CENTRE OF SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

  • The RNA Showgrounds become the centre of the city's social activities-musical and drama groups, football, cricket, lacrosse, athletics and cycling all had headquarters on grounds.

1882:  THE FIRST RAILWAY STATION

  • First railway station opened at the RNA Showgrounds - as an extension of the Sandgate Line.

1887:  MAIN PAVILION DESTROYED

  • Main Pavilion (corner of Bowen Bridge Road and Gregory Terrace) destroyed by fire.

1891:  MAIN PAVILION REPLACED

  • Main Pavilion replaced with new brick building on the corner of Bowen Bridge Road and Gregory Terrace. It contains 1,300,000 bricks and was completed in 23 weeks. 300 men were constantly at work during its construction. The building was equipped with a huge pipe organ by Wallis and Co of London.

1906:  JOHN MACDONALD STAND

  • John MacDonald Stand built.

1909:  SIX ACRES OF LAND

  • Six acres of land bought off Mrs Petty (land bordered by Gregory Terrace, Alexandria Street, Science Street and Water Street).

1912:  AMERICAN AVIATOR ARTHUR BURR STONE

  • American aviator Arthur Burr Stone uses the Main Arena to take off and land a Metz Bleriot Monoplane for the first ever flight over Brisbane.

1917:  TOOWOOMBA'S AUSTRAL HALL

  • Toowoomba's Austral Hall was bought for 1,500 pounds and re-erected at the RNA Showgrounds making it the largest building of its type in the state.

1920:  EDWARD, PRINCE OF WALES VISITS THE EKKA

  • Edward, Prince of Wales visits the Ekka.
  • Number 2 Oval was built.

1921:  THE RNA

  • The prefix 'Royal' is added to the Association's name after it was granted the prefix under warrant from His Majesty King George V.

1923:  ERNEST BAYNES STAND

  • Ernest Baynes Stand was built - two tiers, 7,000 person capacity, plus 600 seat dining room.

1926:  NATIONAL SPEEDWAY

  • National Speedway opened at the grounds.

1928:  SIR DONALD BRADMAN TEST DEBUT

  • Main Arena plays host to the test debut of the world's greatest batsman Sir Donald Bradman. Bradman was playing in the first Australia England International Test to be played in Queensland.
  • First international rugby league game held on the Main Arena.

1937: INDUSTRIAL PAVILION BUILT

  • Construction commenced on the largest building within the RNA Showgrounds after the Minister for Agriculture, Hon. F.W. Bulcock, laid the foundation stone on March 5, 1937.

1942:  WORLD WAR II

  • The Show was cancelled due to World War II as the grounds were used as a staging depot.

1954:  QUEEN ELIZABETH II AND PRINCE PHILIP

  • Visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

1964:  ANIMAL NURSERY AT THE EKKA

  • Introduction of the now famous Animal Nursery at the Ekka.

1971:  INTERNATIONAL SPRINGBOK TOUR

  • International Springbok Tour where a two metre chain wire fence was erected to separate the players from the spectators.
  • RNA becomes a corporate body with a legal identity of its own.

 

1988:  THE YEAR OF WORLD EXPO 88

  • Year of World Expo 88. Ekka achieved its highest attendance with an estimated 800,000 attending.

1989:  LIVID MUSIC FESTIVAL

  • The renowned Livid Music Festival was held at the RNA Showgrounds for the first time.

1996:  COMMERCE AND EXHIBITION BUILDINGS

  • Commerce and Exhibition Buildings constructed.

2000:  SIDESHOW ALLEY AND WOODCHOP

  • Inner city bypass constructed, sideshow alley and the woodchop arena redeveloped.
  • International music superstars Oasis and Green Day perform at Livid.

2002:  THE CURE AT LIVID

  • British music icons The Cure perform at Livid.

2003:  REDEVELOPMENT VISION BEGINS

  • RNA Council embarks on its long term vision to keep the Ekka at the RNA Showgrounds and cement the long term financial viability of the RNA through redeveloping the RNA Showgrounds.

2005:  RNA SHOWGROUNDS REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT

  • RNA Showgrounds Master Plan Redevelopment launched.

2007:  SOUNDWAVE MUSIC FESTIVAL

  • Soundwave music festival held at the RNA Showgrounds for the first time.

2009:  REDEVELOPMENT PARTNER

  • RNA select Lend Lease as its redevelopment partner for the $2.9 billion RNA Showgrounds Redevelopment project.

2010:  ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SHOWS

  • RNA operates one of the most successful Ekkas in history.
  • One million people attend events at the RNA Showgrounds in a calendar year.
  • American rockers Faith No More headline Soundwave and play to a crowd of more than 40,000.
  • RNA Showgrounds Master Plan approved by the Urban Land Development Authority paving way for construction to start.

2011:  RNA SHOWGROUNDS REGENERATION

  • Construction of the RNA Showgrounds regeneration began.
  • British heavy metal band Iron Maiden headlined Soundwave which attracted a crowd of 45,000.

> See the Spirit of the Ekka Video

> See RNA Annual Reports