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It's Melbourne Cup Time

Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Little men in silk pyjamas riding horses.
Today (Tuesday) is Melbourne Cup day.

For those outside Australia, this is the premier non-religious social occasion/non-holiday of the year. I'm not sure what kind of bizarre non-category that is, but the Melbourne Cup is tops in that category.

Basically, 24 horses run 3200 metres (2 miles) in about three minutes, and lots of cheering takes place. Last year's prize purse was almost $6.2 million. The Melbourne Cup is one of the world's premier races.

It's known here as the race that stops a nation (that's its very self-important unofficial title). I can remember school days where the whole school yard would be quiet at that time.

It's traditional to eat chicken on Melbourne Cup day. Don't ask me why! When I worked for the State Government here in Queensland, we'd all bring a plate of stuff, finger food, you know, French Stick, coleslaw, salad, salami...what Australians think of as cosmopolitan food if you're wearing a black faux-peacock fascinator with a cream silk ensemble and open toe rhinestone buckle pumps. (It's not really though).

Traditionally, the people at the race get dressed up to the nines, and I mean...the nines. Top hats and black suits/dark ties for the men. Swank, silk and socialising for the women. Lots of booze.

You may detect a slight hint of yawn from me. I know Mrs Speech loves the idea of going to the race, getting dressed up, holding a champagne flute (if not actually drinking champagne) and generally taking in the grassy, excited atmosphere of a million people about to lose a lot of money.

But for me, it's just a horse race. But man, do people in this country get worked up over it.

Mrs Speech and I will be saving our celebratory excitableness for tomorrow when the next U.S. President is announced.
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