It may be the "horse race that stops the nation", but it's not about the race. It's about the hats.
On the first Tuesday in November every year, Australia stops to watch the Melbourne Cup. It might only be three and a half minutes long, but millions around Australia stop to watch on television, big screens and enjoy local celebrations. This year, I was lucky enough to see it up close and personal at Flemington racecourse and the hype was justified - it is something that has to be experienced at least once. Of everywhere I have travelled around the world, there has been nothing like it. Sure, there are horse races all over the world, but it's not about the race, it's about the hats.
My initial plan to go 'hatless' but was quickly changed when I was told, in no uncertain terms, "You HAVE to wear a hat". Sure enough, every female on the train was wearing a hat. 'Hat' is a loose term, which I discovered does not mean a cap but does include flower, bow and feather arrangements of every possible shape and form and many are works of art.
Dressing up for the races is a tradition that has stood the test of time in Melbourne. It feels like stepping back to a bygone era to be sitting on a train at 8.30am, surrounded by beautifully dressed people (of all ages) in their finest attire (and hats). From the moment you enter Flinders Street station, you can feel the air of excitement and anticipation as people head out to the racecourse.
While the horse racing goes on in the background, there are special separate competitions going on - JUST for hats. The hats seemed to get as much media coverage as the horses. The hats had their own stage, models, lights and show.
As much as I wanted to get photos of the hats, a big camera and zoom lens was just not 'de rigeur' with a glamorous clutch purse, so I share my simple happy snaps from a day of sunshine, racing, bubbly drinks ...... and memories of hats.