About St Ives Showground

Discover more about St Ives Showground's regional context, local species, vegetation communities, geology and history:

Regional Context

As well as being an important recreational resource the St Ives Showgrounds support significant flora, fauna and biodiversity values. The grounds are located between the extensive bushland areas of Garigal and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Parks, and as such play an important role in connecting these reserves. These lands form part of Ku-ring-gai’s urban forest, Green Web and Sydney Green Grid. As part of a wildlife corridor, this land facilitates the movement and gene flow across the landscape, connecting otherwise fragmented remnants and ecosystems, which is central to conservation management. The landscape also supports many highly valued habitat features such as hollow bearing trees, terrestrial termite mounds and canopy connectivity.

Local Species

Whilst at the showgrounds keep an eye out for some of our local native fauna and flora. You might spot Swamp Wallabies hoping into adjoining bushland, Crimson Rosellas feeding in the nearby canopy, Lyre Birds searching for nesting material or a Lace Monitor scurrying up a tree. There are also lots of beautiful eucalypts scattered about, can you pick out the Red Gums and Scribbly Gums? Grevilleas can be seen flowering throughout the year, look out for the Red, White, Grey and more elusive Pink Spider Flower. The Showgrounds are home to beautiful big Banksias and tiny native orchids alike, such as colourful Sun Orchids and more subtle Helmet Orchids among others.

Vegetation Communities

The Duffys Forest Ecological Community occurs within the St Ives Showgrounds and is listed as an Endangered Ecological Community under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. Due to impacts, such as historic clearing, it has a fragmented distribution across the Sydney Basin and primarily occurs within the Ku-ring-gai Local Government Area.

It is characterised by open-forest or woodland and is dominated by Red Bloodwoods, Black Ash, Smooth-barked Apple and stringybarks. It is typically found on ridgetops, plateaus, upper slopes and occasionally mid slopes on Hawkesbury sandstone geology, in association with laterite soils and soils derived from shale and laminite lenses.


The site is located within the Hawkesbury Sandstone geological group which is characterised by medium to coarse sandstone and minor shale lenses. In addition to this it is located within the Lucas Heights Soil Landscape which comprises gently undulating crests and ridges on plateau surfaces of the Mittagong formation, with alternating bands of shale and fine-grained sandstone. Rock outcrops are absent and soils comprise moderately deep, hard setting Yellow Podzolic Soils, Yellow Soloths and Yellow Earths. The Lucas Heights Soil Landscape is typically vegetated with dry sclerophyll low forest and woodland on stony soil with low fertility and low available water capacity.


St Ives was a fairly isolated community until about the end of the First World War, when sealed roads and electricity first began to arrive. At that time, households were growing their own produce and raising animals and poultry. Orchards and market gardens supplied local families and businesses, with the St Ives district described as “particularly renowned for the sweetness of its oranges”.

The St Ives Agricultural and Horticultural Association was formed in 1920 by a group of local farmers, who had been displaying their produce at Hassall Park on Mona Vale Road. They held their first show there in 1921. In 1926, the Association was granted 53 ha of Crown Land in St Ives to establish the Northern Suburbs Showground, now known as the St Ives Showground.

Shows and horse events were held there regularly until the Second World War, when it was occupied by the Australian Defence Forces. From 1941 the 18th Battalion, known as the Ku-ring-gai Regiment, were based at the Showground until the end of the war. Relics of their occupation, such as old army buildings and footings for mess huts, wash houses and headquarters, can still be seen throughout the Showground.

In 1949, the Annual St Ives Show recommenced at the Showground but financial difficulties forced its suspension from 1968. In 1975, the newly-formed Northern Suburbs Agricultural and Horticultural Society ran its first Show which has been a regular annual event ever since, now held each year in May. The Society also stages twilight, winter and spring horse shows at the Showground across the year.

In 2001 the Showground was classified by the National Trust and included on its register. Improvements to the Showground’s facilities include the equestrian arena named after Princess Anne, who visited in 1979, and the Jim Powell Pavilion, named for a member of the Society who co-founded the Northern Suburbs Dog Training Club in 1967. The Showground is now home to this and a number of other local clubs such as the Ku-ring-gai Model Flying Club and Northside Riding Club who use purpose-built facilities in a natural bushland setting.

The area is a haven for local wildlife and part of the Showground contains relics of an endangered ecological community known as Duffys Forest, where a number of threatened plant species such as the Port Jackson Heath can still be found.

Showground history contributed by the Ku-ring-gai Historical Society, Northern Suburbs Agricultural & Horticultural Society, Northern Suburbs Dog Training Club, and Ku-ring-gai Library.