Melbournians champing at the bit for some celebration have dotted the hills outside Flemington racetrack for a view of the race that stops a nation.
After months of lockdown, punters came out in force under perfect sunny skies for a riverside picnic and maybe even a punt.
Rebecca Walsh, 29, arrived at 8.30am to secure a gazebo in the Footscray Park opposite Flemington Racecourse and the bubbles have been flowing since.
“Usually we go to the Cup as a group, but this year we couldn’t get a ticket, so it’s just as nice to have a picnic outside,” she said.
Her and half a dozen friends and family frocked up and toasted the event, keen to not let the opportunity for some fun pass after restrictions eased.
“It’s so much fun to be out and about with friends and family having such a great time,” she enthused.
“The weather is nice, it is very windy, but that’s okay.
“We’ve got lots of cheese and champagne basically, what more do you need?”
Jason Wozniak, 45, was among a large group of picnickers out in force on what turned out to be a windy, but sunny day.
He and his family and friends turn out to the same spot every year, perched on a slight hill for probably the best view of the racetrack from across the Maribyrnong river.
“It’s nice to be out and not wearing a mask,” he said.
“We normally come here and watch it and the kids can run around.
“You can nearly see the finish line and half the race.”
The roars and cheers of the crowd can still be heard from inside the racecourse, which this year accommodated a limited number of Cup goers plus those connected to racing, as part of Covid restrictions.
Ellie Vrangalas, 55, styled up with a hat and dress, and while she usually attends the Cup, this year has been the exception.
“Under normal circumstances I go every year,” she said.
“I think this has been ideal with the view up the top. A great breeze and just the whole atmosphere of the greens and the company.
“It’s been perfect, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the day.”
Aleksandar Nikolovski, 47, agreed and had already backed a few winners.
“We’ve been very lucky,” he said.
“Of the seven races, we’ve had returns on five.
However, while the returns were “reasonable”, the yacht purchase was on the backburner, he joked.
For Kim Billington, 51, it was the perfect chance to catch up with family and friends after lockdown.
“We don’t come usually every year but this was the perfect opportunity coming out of Covid lockdown, great views and to be with family and friends. A really great day,” she said.
Milton Green marked the day with his sailing friends aboard his wooden boat, the Sandpiper, for a glide along the Maribyrnong River and a hopeful glimpse of the famous race.
“We thought we’d be able to see it, but actually we can’t,” he said.
“Never mind. It’s a good excuse to get on the water.
“It’s been sensational. Everyone’s so glad to be out of lockdown and we’ve been doing it okay, as you can see.
“We’ve got good food, good wine and good company.
“What more do you need?”
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