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Heidelberg Historical Society

Off to the races!

Posted on Saturday, 2nd November 2019 by Janine Rizzetti

From our Facebook Page 2 November 2019

They’re off and racing on Tuesday!!!!…..but not at the Heidelberg Racecourse. Between 1853 and 1877 the Heidelberg Racecourse was located in Heidelberg Park, shown here. It was a favoured picnic location for Melburnians who could pack their picnics and enjoy the races.

The Cricket Oval Heidelberg State Library of Victoria

The two-day Heidelberg Races on 10 and 11 February 1860 included three heats of the one-and-a-half mile Handicap Hurdle Race, the two-mile Publican’s Purse, the Selling Stakes, a Consolation Stakes for all the beaten horses, and a Pony Race. Add to this a strong wind, a little dust, an impromptu cricket match which took place on the oval, and fisticuffs amongst the crowd…. a wonderful day was had by all! (see The Argus 13/2/60 p.5 on Trove)

The Heidelberg Racecourse was also used for Steeplechase racing, trotting and hurling (!!).There was also an unofficial trotting track near the corner of Bell Street and Waterdale Road and behind the old Heidelberg High School, and trotting was conducted in Warringal Park for many years, with a trotting gymkhana held there as late as April 1983.

This photo is dated 1900-1909 and seems to have been taken from the hills surrounding Heidelberg Park. It looks familiar, and yet not quite right.

For example, I’m not sure that the building shown here is the cricket pavilion that was certainly at the Park by 1934 when it was flooded out. The building here seems to be in the flat area now taken up by the car park. Nor is St John’s Church of England visible, to help us orient ourselves.

What if we reverse the image? That means it would be taken perhaps from the hill that St John’s is located on, looking north.

Reversed image

There still doesn’t seem to be enough of a slope behind the building. Most odd!

Source: State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/295199

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