3 November 2008

ABC Unleashed: Race Invaders

Michael Hutak writes about our responses to the globalisation of that distinctively Australian event, the Melbourne Cup...
Cup Day, and Cup Day only, commands an attention, an interest, and an enthusiasm which are universal and spontaneous, not perfunctory. I can call to mind no specialised annual day in any country, whose approach fires the whole land with a conflagration of conversation, and preparation, and anticipation and jubilation. No day save this one.
Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

When Mark Twain attended the Cup in 1895, Melbourne's population was barely a million and yet 10 per cent of the colony's population turned up that day to witness the event, a remarkable turnout. With Melbourne's population today roughly 3.5m, the Cup is only now again approaching the sort of mass appeal it enjoyed at the turn of the 20th century.