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Monday, October 31, 2005


Australian cultural lesson: Melbourne Cup

If readers of this blog have arrived in Australia in the last 12 months they may wonder what is going on tomorrow, Tuesday November 1.

It is the Melbourne Cup, Australia's most popular horse race and perhaps the biggest cultural event on the Australian calendar. The whole country stops for an unofficial holiday on the first Tuesday in November every year. The conscientious probably work in the morning but very little is done in the afternoon—except by bookmakers and perhaps caterers.

Personally, I gave up following horse races over 30 years ago. And to be fair most Australians don't follow them at other times. But it seems that this is the one day when people like me are in an extreme minority. Still I live life as I see it and I don't feel the need to change just because it's what everyone else does.

So, those who are new to Australia, you have a choice. If you want to immerse yourself in Australian culture, buy yourself a newspaper, use a pin to pick a horse and place your bet. Alternatively buy a ticket in the office sweep. There is one in just about every workplace in Australia. You might win a few dollars. But if you don't at least you can gather around the TV set with the rest of your work mates and cheer your horse on.

Alternatively, if you think there's more to life than this you can be like me and do your own thing.

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