The Melbourne Cup is widely known as “The race that stops a nation”. With the first race held in 1861, it has a long tradition that captures the public’s imagination to the extent that people, whether at work, home, school, or out and about, usually stop to watch or listen to the race.
While Melbourne Cup day is a public holiday for all working within metropolitan Melbourne and some parts of regional Victoria, many people from outside of Melbourne take a time off work to celebrate the occasion. It is believed that sick leave increases on the day and productivity wanes. Many Victorians take advantage of the spring weather and head out of town, taking Monday off to make it a long weekend.
Cup Day was a half-holiday in Melbourne for public servants and bank officials as early as 1865, with various businesses also closed at lunchtime. It wasn’t until 1873 that the holiday was acknowledged in the Victoria Government Gazette.
From humble beings in 1861 when four thousand people gathered at Flemington Racecourse to watch the first Melbourne Cup, to the hundred thousand or so that now attend on the first Tuesday in November, and the many millions more watching the live broadcast, the Cup has become one of Australia’s most important sporting events.
Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me.
– Mark Twain, 1895
Whether you are watching from the Birdcage, the racecourse car park, or a picnic on the beach, turn up the flavours to match the excitement on the track with one (or more!) of our delectable hampers. No matter where your horse finishes, you’re sure to be blown away by these.