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If you want to find out why Australia is the only country that stops work for a horse race, then this is a good place to start.
All items on display at the new Champions Australian Racing Museum come with a story. Carbine, the 1890 Melbourne Cup winner, was apparently a bit of a show-off and loved to stop and play up to the crowds.
Walter Hickenbotham, his trainer, was famous for flicking his open umbrella at Carbine's legs to hurry him along. The umbrella is at the museum, see if you can spot the horse's hair on the bottom!
Bitalli, who in just three starts in 1923 won the Adelaide Tattersalls Cup and the Melbourne Cup and came third in the Port Adelaide Cup has his tail on display.
His eccentric trainer, James Scobie, didn't race Bitalli for six months before the Melbourne Cup and so the horse started at very long odds. It is rumoured to have cost the bookmakers £400,000 when he won.
Craftswoman Therese Haynes was so enamoured of the horse Archer, who won the first two Melbourne Cups in 1861 and 1862, that in his lifetime she made a horseshoe ornament from his tail hair and mounted it on red satin. The horsehair momentos were a quirk of Victorian times.
The new museum is a revamped version of the one that had existed at Caulfield Racecourse since the early 1980s. The idea for a museum originated in 1974, when late horse breeder Lady (Kathleen) Clarke purchased a portrait of Newminster, the first Caulfield Cup winner.
Clarke and late Victoria Amateur Turf Club committee member Bill Adams steadily built up a collection of Australian racing memorabilia and, in 1981, Queen ELizabeth II, herself a great horse fan, opened the first racing museum at Caulfield Racecourse.
The collection grew to about 30,000 items, dating from the first colonial races, and included fashion, millinery, documents, photos, trophies, horse parts and saddlery.
Moving the museum from Caulfield to Federation Square means a more mainstream audience, including families and tourists, can see the collection.
Centrepieces include the skeleton of Carbine, the enormous, preserved heart of Tulloch, who was a champion of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and a leather saddle belonging to Phar Lap.
Loaned pieces on display include super-trainer Bart Cummings's 11 Melbourne Cup trainer's trophies, a lightweight saddle used by jockey Darren Beadman, and legendary grey Gunsynd's (Queensland's favourite) 1972 silver Cox Plate.
The permanent exhibition space is divided into three sections: The Racers looks at the characteristics that elite jockeys, trainers and horses possess; Racing Heritage looks at the history of Australian racing; and Race Day includes exhibits of hats and fashion as well as people who make their living from racing, such as punters, bookies, race callers, vets and farriers. Almost forgot the milliners!
The first occupant of the museum's temporary exhibition space is the interactive Horse Words program. The idea is that children choose horse-related words from one wall, and take them to light boxes on the opposite wall to make sentences. It doesn't teach them how to punt, they'll learn that later in life.
Champions Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame at Federation Square is open daily from 10am-6pm. Entry free.
Melbourne: Architectural Vernacular Pt 3
Melbourne doesn't just have a legacy of old 19th century buildings. There are a number of modern high rises of note for their architectural value. In 1955 curtain wall building - ICI House, at 21 levels began the movement of modern high rise development when the c1888 150 foot hight limit was amended.
The 42 level, former BHP Headquarters at 505 Bourke Street (c1970) was a downscaled replica of another Chicago ikon - the John Hancock Building. It was also one
of the few multi-level buildings constructed with a supporting steel skeleton rather than the typical Australian building method of the concrete core.
Across the road can be found the 25 level AMP Building, another heritage listed multilevel building from the 1960s. As late as the late 1980s there were by appointment tours to it's roof top, a hang over from when it was the tallest building in Melbourne.
The erection of the 88 level Eureka Apartments on Southbank is a bit of a breakthrough where the tallest inhabitable building in Melbourne has been outside the CUB zone with exception to the ICI House. Melbournians have become so parse about tall buildings now after decades of dissapointments - this one has become no exception to this.
Australian Open Tennis
Its one of the 4 Tennis Grand Slams - that should be enough to recommend it! Consequently it attracts all the top players from around the world. Its also the first of the year, taking place at the Rod Laver Arena in January every year (tickets go on sale in October).
Like most major tennis tournaments around the world, tickets are purchased by sessions - afternoon or evening.
Afternoon tickets are for access for outside courts throughout the day and night. Evening tickets are for the two main arenas (reserved seating) and are for 2 games, but also provide access to any outside court after 5pm.
In real terms, evening tickets result in less matches (fewer matches on the outside courts as the day progresses) , but will have guaranteed seeded players.
Atmosphere is electric, whether inside the main arenas at night, daytime outside courts or watching the centre court match on the huge video screen in the beer gardens.
Ticket prices vary - from $A49 (first couple of days) - $A300 for men's final. Its pretty exposed, so be careful of sun stroke! take public transport - its on the edge of the CBD and so VERY easy to get to.
'Rhythm of Africa' in Australia
This is a yearly summer event at Werribee Zoo, near Melbourne. Every Sat and Sun evening from early Jan to early March. Includes wild life safari at the open zoo, African food and African music & dances. See details at their website