No visit to Melbourne would be complete without a trip to the Flemington Racecourse.
Flemington Racecourse, home of the Melbourne Cup.
The racecourse was built way back in the 1850s and has undergone several renovations by the Victoria Racing Club in order to improve standards of comfort and accommodation.
The racecourse also houses several stables and accommodation for horses, with many trainers having their base at the course.
Central Melbourne is home to Flemington, one of the most popular and oldest racetracks in Australia, the home of the famous Melbourne Cup.
The racecourse made its way onto the National Heritage List in 2006. Apart from racing, Flemington is also a centre for horse training with many famous trainers maintaining stables at the course. The rough river flats along the Maribyrnong River were the venue of the first race held in March 1840.
Located a mere 15 minutes from Melbourne 's Central Business District, Flemington Racecourse is a great tourist attraction famous for its rose gardens as well.
John Pascoe Fawkner is credited with bringing the first horses into Melbourne that arrived from Tasmania by ship. Fawkner, regarded as one of the founders of Melbourne, went on to become a politician and successful businessman, while his stable began to grow.
Soon there were many horse owners who turned to racing seeking a permanent racing ground, which turned out to be the site at Flemington. During this time, the crowds watched the races from along the banks of the Maribyrnong River. Soon the breeding of thoroughbred racehorses was encouraged, making a number of wealthy people.
Flemington was originally called the Melbourne Racecourse on Crown Land. The Governor of New South Wales in 1848 formally declared 352 acres as a public racecourse and set up a six-member trust to oversee the racecourse. The Victoria Racing Club Act passed by the government in 1871, made the club the trustees of the racecourse.
Earlier, two clubs, the Victoria Turf Club formed in 1852 and Victoria Jockey Club formed in 1857, dissolved their status, to combine and form the Victoria Racing Club in 1864. Both clubs used to hold their race meetings separately with self-appointed committees. However, from 1864 to 2001, the VRC Victoria Racing Club was responsible for all racing activities conducted in Victoria. In August 2006, the VRC was incorporated as Victoria Racing Club Limited.
The first secretary of the VRC was Robert C. Bagot and his successor Henry Byron Moore went about making Flemington into a great sporting centre by improving all the facilities.
The Gold Rush era brought great wealth to Melbourne, while the club became a popular spot, attracting crowds by the thousands. Races were initially run in autumn, however, in 1854 the Victoria Turf Club decided to hold spring meetings due to favourable weather conditions. This eventually led to the hosting of the Melbourne Cup.
With the advent of the Melbourne Cup in 1861, Flemington became the venue of the biggest sporting highlight of the year, attracting a number of inter-colonial horses in the beginning. The VRC has spent millions of dollars on improvements including a new grandstand that was completed in 2000.
Flemington is Australia 's answer to Ascot in England, with the Flemington Event Centre becoming a prime spot for hosting weddings, parties, and other events.
However, Flemington will always be home to thousands of punters, horse owners, trainers, and everyone associated with the racing fraternity. A visit to the Flemington Heritage Centre would be prudent to explore the history of Australia's largest and oldest racing track.