Friday, 26 October 2012

The Melbourne Cup

"The Lawn" at Flemington Racecourse on Melbourne Cup Day, circa 1906.
[From my own collection]

Held annually at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November, the Melbourne Cup, being a 3200 meter horse race at Flemington Racecourse is arguably the most electrifying event in Australasia. Then, as now, parading in one's finery on the day is obviously nothing new. "The Lawn" would appear to be the place to be and the place to be seen. And what a marvellous snapshot of Edwardian summer fashions.

A contemporary view of Swanson Street looking towards Flinders Street,
Melbourne, circa 1906. The Melbourne Town Hall with clock tower at
left survives. The building behind with a high-pitched fanciful roof
unfortunately does not. Note the elegantly multi-wired phone and/or
telegraph poles. Trams still traverse this busy street today.
[From my own Collection] 

Cup Day is one day a year, more so than even ANZAC Day, when two countries virtually join as one to watch or listen to a race which has truly become an international institution. And no self-respecting office or work-place in Australia or New Zealand would be complete without an office sweepstake. To those of us who are not normally passionate about horse racing this event manages to engender a level of passion and interest which is hard explain.

The Princes Bridge, Melbourne with the earlier Flinders Street
Railway Station across the Yarra River, a passenger carriage
just being visible. Pre 1907 [From my own collection]

My family were unfortunately not in Melbourne for the above race, these cards were purchased by my Great Uncle in February 1907, having just arrived from Scotland and waiting to cross the Tasman Sea to New Zealand on another steamer.

But my own Mother and Grandfather fortuitously arrived on the 'R.M.S. Orontes' from England on the 1st November 1937 just in time to watch "Trump" win the Cup on the 2nd. Neither were of the horse racing fraternity but happily made that 'pilgrimage' to Flemington. But, despite being on an extended holiday, I doubt both were of a mind to stay and enjoy "the pleasures of a gay social season".

Newspaper article for the 1937 race

Newspaper article for the 1937 race

I will, however, not attempt to cover the history of this great annual racing and fashion event which is very capably detailed in an interesting Blog on The Melbourne Cup by Hels. While I dearly love Melbourne, truly one of my favourite cities of the world, watching the Melbourne Cup in person and to experience the electrifying atmosphere on the day is one event which still eludes me. As this vibrant city keeps drawing me back it will definitely have to be added to my 'bucket list'. 

Fire Brigade Station, Melbourne.
Happily, this building survives today.
[From my own collection]

Bibliography :

- All images are from my own personal collection and may be freely copied provided a link is given back to this page.


  1. I loved writing about the Melbourne Cup, partially because horses are beautiful creatures but more because of the hoopla/clothes/picnics/bets/parties that go on.

    But your 1906 image is more Edwardian and more beautiful than mine. It must have been an amazing experience, before that unthinkable tragedies of WW1.

    Thanks for the link

    1. Thanks Hels, I embedded your link in my Blog. I hadn't realised you had written about the Race but then you have already shown that there is nothing you cannot capably write about.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...