Sunday, November 29, 2015

Melbourne Cup

This blog has morphed into a travel log and while that is indeed awesome, was not my original intent for this dog and pony show.  In the future I'll try my best to offer more glimpses into everyday life in Australia and our various goings on.

A good introduction to life Down Under is "the race that stops the nation", a.k.a. Melbourne Cup.  I had never heard about it before moving here, so I'm sure you also need an explanation.  It's a horse race, nay*, it is the horse race.

(*See what I did there?)

Random yet related aside: Did you know that here they pronounce the word derby as darby?  They legitimately say "Kentucky Darby" with no hint of shame or remorse.  Personally I find this one of the worst linguistic offenses committed by Australians.

Back to Melbourne Cup.  It is a huge event all around Australia, particularly in Melbourne where the event is held.  It's a public holiday there, so most people don't have to fight the crowds and go to work that day.  But up here in Queensland we do have to go to work, and it's awesome!  Awesome because most of the afternoon is spent hanging out, eating, gambling and if your boss is chill:

I've now had the pleasure of experiencing four Melbourne Cups.  The first year I had no idea what was going on, but beginner's luck won me my biggest gambling profit to date.  What did I do with my winnings?  Why, I invested in future Melbourne Cups!  I bought a fascinator:

Melbourne Cup is all about the hats (meaning both Queen-esque hats and fascinators)!  I love them!  I've picked up a few more over the years, and I'm always in the market for a new fascinator if the price is right.

The bigger, the better.

Australians are huge gamblers.  Nowhere near Chinese-level obsession with gambling, but I'm always surprised by how many gambling ads are on TV, especially around Melbourne Cup time.  If you follow horse racing and know the horses you can bet on your preferred horse(s), but most people are casual gamblers who don't know who to bet on.  Enter the phenomenon that is "the sweeps":

Sweeps are little slips of paper with the name of a horse on each, which allows you to bet by blindly picking them out of the hat, and hope that your horse(s) wins.  No skill or knowledge required.  Just bring your gold coins:

Doesn't look like much but that's $15 ripe for gambling

Trust me when I say it is not easy to run the sweeps, as I've had a hand in running the show the past two years.  Someone has to do it, though, so why not immigrant labor?  Every workplace must have a Melbourne Cup sweeps!

There are many reasons I love Melbourne Cup.



Sometimes, if you're lucky.

TV at work!


I imagine only in Australia can you buy horsie napkins
Hats...and group photos!


Sometimes, if you're lucky.

Bottom line: the first Tuesday of each November is my favorite day to go to work.  Everybody is in a good mood, not a whole lot of work gets done and occasionally I walk away with a few bucks in my pocket (...and occasionally I walk away with a hole in my pocket).

I love it so much that when we went to New Zealand a few years back I purposefully booked our flight for the day after Melbourne Cup so I wouldn't miss a minute of the action.

Now that is dedication!

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