Ice skating as a means of transport, as a fun recreational activity and a competitive sport has a history spanning thousands of years. Ice skating rinks in Australia has a much shorter history, due to the lack of temperatures conducive to freezing over lakes. The first ice rinks in Australia were built over one hundred years ago, though none of the historical ice skating rinks are still in use. The oldest still operating rinks in Australia date from about 1980.
In Victoria, we are lucky enough to have had ice skating rinks since around the time of Federation. The Glaciarium, which was located centrally in South Melbourne, opened its doors in 1906 and operated for nearly fifty years, finally closing in 1964. Currently, there are two ice rinks in Melbourne which can still be enjoyed by the public.
Despite ice skating in Australia being around for a little over a century, ice skating has existed for an estimated three thousand years, with those in the northern hemisphere strapping sharpened bones to their shoes in order to glide across frozen over lakes. It was not until the 1700s, however, that ice skating became a popular activity to be enjoyed by the masses. Early skating rinks added salt and lard to the water to keep it in an icy state. Thankfully technology to keep the ice solid has improved since the early days of skating rinks, which first emerged in England in the 1840s. The usage of rinks has also greatly improved the safety of ice skating, as there is no risk of falling through the ice into the natural pond beneath. It is unheard of to drown at a properly maintained ice skating rink, though it is still important for skaters to be safety conscious by dressing appropriately in warm clothes. Today, ice skating in Melbourne CBD remains a popular pastime, and is accessible to more people than ever before.