28 October 2020

Your ultimate guide to enjoying Melbourne Cup day in Canberra

| Neha Attre
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Hotel Realm

Award-winning catering service at Hotel Realm. Photo: Supplied.

It’s that time of the year when the guys suit up, and women get to dress up complete with beautiful hats and fascinators to cheer for their favourite horse while enjoying a glass of bubbly and good company.

The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops the nation, and even though Canberrans are far away from Flemington, you can still grab your friends and head out to celebrate in style. Here is our list of venues in Canberra where you can join the party on 3 November and celebrate the biggest social event of the year.

Thoroughbred Park

Head to the Thoroughbred Park to enjoy the day with two-course and three-course meals and beverages, Fashions on the Field competition, local racing and all the action from Flemington on the big screen. Gates open at 10:30 am and local racing starts at 1:00 pm. The cost of general admission is $25.

Bookings can be made on 6204 0000.

Canberra Racing Club

Get trackside at Thoroughbred Park Photo: Supplied.

Yacht Club

The Southern Cross Yacht Club on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin provides a fabulous setting to enjoy a platter while sipping complimentary Australian sparkling with a five-course lunch priced at $95 per person. Doors will open at 12:00 pm at each of the Southern Cross club venues (Woden, Tuggeranong and Jamison) with on-site TAB facilities, sweeps and prizes.

Bookings can be made here. For more details contact The Southern Cross Yacht Club on 6273 1784.

Hotel Realm

Enjoy exclusive access to Hotel Realm’s Ostani Bar, Buvette VIP Experience, the Burbury Terrace or Hotel Realm High Courtyards on Melbourne Cup Day for $165 to $185 per person. Starting at 12:00 pm, the price includes four-hour food and beverage packages, champagne on arrival, television screens to watch the action from Flemington and a pop-up bar. Prizes for best-dressed male and female, and best-dressed couple, sponsored by Rolfe Classic BMW, Piper Heidsieck and Hale Spa, will also be awarded on the day.

Bookings can be made via email foodandbeverage@domahotels.com.au or call Hotel Realm 6163 1800 for more information.

High Tea at the Hyatt

Go all out with High Tea at the Hyatt Hotel. Image: Michelle Rowe.

Hyatt Hotel

Get together with family and friends for high tea at Canberra’s Hyatt Hotel on Melbourne Cup Day for $80. Two television screens will be put up in the tea lounge where visitors can enjoy the race along with conversations and nibbles from 1:00 pm onwards.

Bookings via the Hyatt Hotel.


Enjoy the flavours and fashions of Spring Racing at Capitol Bar and Grill at QT Canberra. The lunch package for $135 per person from 12:30 pm onwards includes a three-course feasting menu, champagne on arrival, Fashions on the Field competition, sweeps and a Spring Racing parade.

Bookings can be made via Eventbrite.

Magoo’s Cafe and Bar

Catch the race at a local favourite on the Kingston Foreshore. Open from 1:00 pm, Magoo’s Cafe and Bar are serving fresh prawns and chilled sparkling, and have promised great specials all day.

Bookings are essential and can be made via Magoo’s Cafe and Bar.


Meanwhile, if you are getting together with friends or organising an office sweep, head to racenet for a free printable guide to office sweeps for the 2020 Melbourne Cup at around 6:30 pm on Saturday (31 October). Tickets are given randomly and each ticket usually costs between $1 and $10.

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Here’s the ACT Light Rail financed in 3 minutes:


…and good for the next 100 years.

What do we learn every year from the Melbourne Cup?

What exactly we “can afford”!


You ride the horse long enough round the track and don’t fall off you end up where you started from.


Nobody whinges that it is sending us broke, or we shouldn’t do it till we have spent more on hospitals and education.

creative_canberran2:48 pm 01 Nov 11

Lecture theatre streaming live on Bigpond.

And Honkytonks it is for me.

LootenPlunder12:29 pm 01 Nov 11

Well you’ll be seeing nothing but day old re-runs if you show up anywhere to watch it on the 2nd November!

Gungahlin Al11:37 am 31 Oct 11

How about by the waterside at the Belconnen Arts Centre?
Pretty good looking menu.
(Declaration: I’m on the board of directors there.)

Holden Caulfield10:14 am 31 Oct 11

Andrew Wilkie’s office.

All Bar for a chicken and prawn buffet.

See you there

bubzie said :

busgirl said :

…diddly squat? Didn’t you earn public holiday rates for working today?

Nope. Standard rate.

Grrrrrr… >:(

Sounds like you need to contact the Workplace Ombudsman, as I had to do over Easter.

Personally, I enjoyed working a bar at the races and getting paid $45 an hour. Wish it was a public holiday next year too.

Observations from the day:

I got abused more by older patrons out there than young drunk ones.
The shorter the dress- the more likely the girl is not wearing underwear.
The amount of people who didn’t even watch the Melbourne Cup shows that most people just go out there to get pissed

Gungahlin Al8:13 pm 03 Nov 09

Can’t stand the gambling industry, but would love to have seen all the gurls battling to keep their dresses decent and their hats on in that wind we had here this arvo. Would have made great entertainment.

busgirl said :

therealarigold said :

nice for some….. meanwhile others worked their backsides off, why was it retail employees got didly squat and all others got the day off a PH….?

…diddly squat? Didn’t you earn public holiday rates for working today?

Nope. Standard rate.

Grrrrrr… >:(

therealarigold said :

nice for some….. meanwhile others worked their backsides off, why was it retail employees got didly squat and all others got the day off a PH….?

5 words – weak or non existant union

…me? I spent the day out in the garden…what a glorious day it was today. Horse race? What horse race? Who cares about the horse race?

therealarigold said :

nice for some….. meanwhile others worked their backsides off, why was it retail employees got didly squat and all others got the day off a PH….?

…diddly squat? Didn’t you earn public holiday rates for working today?

therealarigold3:46 pm 03 Nov 09

nice for some….. meanwhile others worked their backsides off, why was it retail employees got didly squat and all others got the day off a PH….?

You should have had someone out at the races, taking photos of the fashions, live blogging etc. Like yoyu did for the election. I for one would have tuned in. Much more fun that listening to a race 1000kms away!

I may sound like a miser – but I preferred it when it was not a holiday.

Before I would get a half day at work in, then have a chicken and champagne lunch at work, Melbourne Cup festivities at work, a sweep at work and an early finish to my working day.

Now I sit at home and watch Ellen…

Where’s the “I’m an IT contractor, I don’t have a family and I don’t get paid” option?

It’s great to have a tuesday off, really puts a nice break in the week. We need more mid-week public holidays.

I correct myself: Awards, not agreements.

Growling Ferret6:54 am 24 Apr 09

I liked it. The bride and our kiddie, and five other families all got together, had a bbq, a couple of quiet beers, and spent the day with family and community.

We have not done it since, but plan on remeeting again later in the year – on family and community day.

Keep it.

Canberra: the place that gets 2 public holidays more than most other states. Ahh the place for shinny bums.

I’m not in favor of extra public holidays like the Melbourne cup day because I don’t get paid leave. I like to have time off work but I want to be able to choose the days I want off not take time off on a day dictated to me.

By forcing me to have time off on Melbourne cup day that is one less day off I can afford to have at a time of my choosing.

Arrrrrrrr!! … Now ye be talkin’!

Move it to September 19 – International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Nup. Union picnic day was a right for a range of people employed under certain awards – it was never at the whim of, or subject to, employer agreemnet.

Well it was a macho excuse by stanhopeless in protest for workchoices disallowing the union picnic day, the thought was flawed in the first place. Given that the union picnic day was never a right of anyone, and was only allowable with negotiation with the employer for the very few who bothered to annoy their employer with the inconvenience.

Though nobody is going to turn down an extra day off and the more public holidays the better is my motto. I do think a better day could be found, maybe even one day move would do.

delete the ? – damned finger

I want an FnC Day every month?

I like the holiday, and I’d keep it on the Tuesday.

There are enough holidays on Mondays – it messes up uni and school timetables, and I’m sick of paying for childcare on Monday public holidays – they seem to be endless.

Last year people weren’t sure what to do with it. But gradually traditions of parties/sweeps/sending someone to put bets on etc will develop. Or otherwise – sleep in!

I think the holiday is a great idea. Horse racing is a cruel and abominable industry.

Union Picnic Day was included in collective agreements because of the conscientious negotiating by unions on behalf of workers. It was one day in the year to acknowledge the low paid work undertaken by blue collar workers – a day to spend with theirs and other families.

When this was deemed unallowable by Howard’s Work Choices legislation, the ACT government acted on behalf of the community and instituted a day for all workers, all people in the ACT.

I reckon this intent and positive outcome for ordinary people ought to override the miniscule cost to business.

Snap out of it and enjoy a day off.

“It’s [not just] the Economy Stupid!”

As Nov 11 is my wedding anniversary I agree with CAF.

Stupid holiday, only dreamed up for Stanhope to stick it to Howard. However, I’ll take the day off, thanks.

Good on you for sending in a submission, OzPhoenix!

: )

I’d like to keep it and have sent an email saying so. I like having a public holiday in the later part of the year, because it seems like we only get public holidays in the first part of the year. And I like public holidays as they make me feel warm and fuzzy.

Now, that is not a word for word rendition of my submission, but it covers the gist of it. 🙂

Steady Eddie5:20 pm 23 Apr 09

Scrap it altogether.

Holden Caulfield5:03 pm 23 Apr 09

GnT said :

I think it was a ridiculous holiday, but I’m not going to vote to abolish a day off!

Hear, hear!

Make it early October, so that in election year it always falls just before the election. This will help ensure that any party that wants to eradicate it will themselves be eradicated in the assembly shortly thereafter.

Well I sure hope p1 puts in a submission and caf doesn’t!

: P

Happy enough with it where it is, but if people want to move it, we could just shift it slightly to Remembrance Day.

I liked the Tuesday holiday because my office closed for the Monday as well, and last year that meant we flew to Melbourne for the Cup… apparently quite a few places closed for an extra day, so it’s like two public holidays for the price of one, which is great from a worker’s perspective. Can’t be good for business, though. And what’s not good for business isn’t good for the economy, so I guess it should be scrapped or moved.


But if they scrap it, can we have a Day of Mourning for the lost public holiday?

I like your thinking granny. Plus, if the monday is a holiday, then it will be easier to take a four day weekend if you are into that kind of thing.

Well, I have put in my submission as follows:

Dear Mr Hargreaves,

I am writing in support of the third option expressed – that of moving the Family and Community Day public holiday to a more suitable day. It would especially make sense to have the holiday on the Monday before the Melbourne Cup. I particularly disliked having it on cup day, and ended up missing the race altogether while waiting in a face-painting line. It would have been a nice event if it wasn’t also trying to be the Melbourne Cup.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment,

I say we either keep it but rename it “Chicken Man Appreciation Day”, or do away with it, and force everyone back to work on Melbourne Cup day, so we can all drink champagne at work.

I think it was a ridiculous holiday, but I’m not going to vote to abolish a day off!

I vote to move the holiday to another day, and I will tell the Minister so also.

I liked having the day off.
Usually half the day is taken up by people arranging sweeps, having lunches and drinking and watching the race. And as I don’t really have any interest in any of those activities while at work – I would prefer just to get the day off to do as I please.

With the holiday last year, it was the first time in ages I hadn’t bet on the race (mainly as I was too busy making a holiday out of the day, rather than a bludgy day at work). So I reckon ACTTAB saw decreased revenues with the public holiday last year, and would like to see it made a work day again.

Melbourne Cup is a whole day public holiday in Melbourne, not a half day like SGS stated. Instead, it only applies to the Melbourne metropolitan area – once you’re out of the suburbs, it is just a normal day.

I’m with the other summer folk. Yay for days off in daylight saving with nice weather!

A tuesday ph each year, means another monday off in flex. 4 day weekend!

hey SG! Those five months are the only time any work gets done! every other time, people are coming and going.

I enjoy working in a heated office in winter on someone else’s dime. Save my holidays for the summer months.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart10:42 pm 07 Apr 07

Read the comment again Kennardly, not once did I refer to the second half of the year.

October – Labour Day
December – Christmas, Boxing Day
January – New Years Day, Australia Day
March – Canberra Day
April – Good Friday, Easter Monday (I’m ignoring the Sunday as it doesn’t have any effect on a weekday), Anzac Day
June – Queens Birthday

October-April is a seven month period with nine holidays in it. The other five months have one holiday. Surely it would be better to spread the holidays out a bit by putting one in August or early September than adding yet another holiday to the October-April holidayfest.

Samuel, what the hell? Besides Christmas there is only one public holiday in the second half of the year – overcrowded?

Samuel Gordon-Stewart10:00 pm 07 Apr 07

Quite easily Jellen…virtually every public holiday falls in the October to April period, I’d love the extra public holiday, but not in that already overcrowded period.

As if Bill Stefaniak doesnt spend the day on the piss anyway

fing brilliant idea…how the f can you find something negative in a plan for another public holiday!!!

I actually agree agree with SGS on this one

It would be much better to try and find some vaguely appropriate date separate to cup day, to be ACT centric… Burley Griffen Day or something (Stanhope Day anyone??).

Cup day is only a holiday in Metro Melbourne, so it would be a touch strange to have us linked to Melbourne only

Oh well, works for me – I never gave a toss about the Melbourne Cup anyway, but I’m happy to have an extra day off though.

Bittersweet is a great description!

Samuel Gordon-Stewart3:36 pm 07 Apr 07

I’ll summarise it for you emd. The public holiday would be better in August or September.

Great idea. It’s not like anyone does much work on Melbourne Cup Day anyway, and it will make it easier to go to the Wangaratta Jazz Festival the weekend before.

I didn’t read SGS’s comment. Too darn long.

I think it is a great idea. Now we can have cup day lunches and sweeps at home with friends – far nicer than bought salads and boxes of chicken wings at work.

Swaggie, just to swerve off topic slightly – parents didn’t want pupil free days in the ACT, so in the EBA of many moons ago, it was decided that we had those days (not all of them but more than 1/2) before the school term. The others we are to make up in our own time.

However, I would have preferred that ACTDET pushed the dates forward this year but then parents would complain re: the week before Christmas, that they had to take time off work as the kids wouldn’t be in school.

I do enjoy Melbourne cup day at work. We turned off the network status projector and put up the cup for 30 min or so. Shared a glass and lost the sweep (again!). It was nice.

I love public holidays as much as the next person but this is one will be bitter sweet.

Though, the thought crossed my mind of how when the Caesars of ancient rome wanted favour with the plebs, they would shower them in holidays…times haven’t changed, have they, Nero? 🙂

I think Melbourne Cup Day is a very low productivity day relatively speaking. Bring it on.

Thanks Nyssa, it’s an explanation “take them (PD days) in the week before school starts, therefore making the school term a week later than NSW.” which begs a few questions however we’ll go swerving wildly off topic so I’ll just say thanks….

Samuel Gordon-Stewart6:21 pm 06 Apr 07

I have no problem with the extra public holiday per se as I think our public holidays are too heavily consolidated in the December-April period as it is, but not even Melbourne gets the full day off for the Melbourne Cup…it’s a half-day holiday down there. Everywhere else in Australia the Melbourne Cup is an event in which people get to have a nice friendly fun afternoon with their work colleagues or whoever else happens to be nearby, and people are free to ignore the event if they so desire. Melbourne Cup day is a very special day on the work calendar, but work still gets done…the workplace might grind to a halt for three minutes and be slower than usual for about an hour, but it is still a productive day, and generally quite a happy day. It has its own culture which has built up over the years.

The only reason the public holiday works in Melbourne is because Flemington race course is in Melbourne. Admittedly other race courses around the country have celebrations and show the race on the big screen, but it doesn’t have the same atmosphere as Flemington.

Having a public holiday anywhere else in the country is only going to ruin the culture of a special day on the work calendar, a day which promotes work place bonding without the peculiar and strenuous training sessions in funny hotel conference rooms that some businesses seem to think help their employees. It will also make the day a lot less special for everyone as schools and many other things close on public holidays. Parents won’t have the opportunity to easily get together with friends as they will have to look after the kids, and those who have to work on the public holiday will be very unlikely to have many, if any, people to share the day with.

Well done Andrew Barr, you have destroyed the Melbourne Cup, I hope you’re pleased with yourself.

I do have to wonder how much Andrew Barr had to drink before providing the following quote to the ABC:

I don’t think that productivity on the first Tuesday in November tends to be fairly low and so I think of all the days in the calendar to be able to find a replacement day, this is the appropriate day.

So productivity on Melbourne Cup day is not low, but we need to write-off the day anyway?

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, Cyclone Katy, during her time as the Industrial Relations Minister, added two public holidays to the 2005 post-Christmas period, and in doing so gave us all a lesson in the law in a press release:

“This year Christmas Day and New Years Day both fall on a Sunday,” Ms Gallagher said. “Under the Holidays Act, the public holiday for both days automatically moves to the following Monday. This would have meant that Christmas Day and New Years Day would not have been observed as public holidays for this year, along the same lines as last year where the two days fell on a Saturday.”

“I am authorised to declare additional public holidays under the Act, and the ACT Government has decided that given the current climate in which ACT workers have a real risk of losing their leave entitlements under the proposed federal industrial relations laws, and the special significance of these two days, they ought to be observed as public holidays,” Ms Gallagher said.

Cyclone Katy’s extra holidays were designed to bring us in line with our surrounding neighbour New South Wales:

These arrangements will ensure that the ACT is consistent with New South Wales and Victoria, which have also ensured that trading over these two days is treated consistently with public holidays.

But New South Wales works on Melbourne Cup day.

Andrew, when you first joined the legislative assembly and were instantly handed the education portfolio I thought you were just hired as a scapegoat for that failing portfolio…but today Andrew, you have proven yourself as a complete and utter incompetent fool.

Growling Ferret4:56 pm 06 Apr 07

I would suggest that many young pissheads would be better served having the Public Holiday split from 12 noon Melb Cup Day to 12 Noon the Wednesday afterwards… Gives that much required recovery time

Swaggie, I believe it to be because in the ACT we don’t have pupil free days (teacher professional development days).

We take them (PD days) in the week before school starts, therefore making the school term a week later than NSW.

The timing of Good Friday also has to do with the lunar cycle, so one year it could be before the holidays in the ACT or the start.

None of mine do Nyssa, we can’t for the life of us figure out why the holidays didn’t start yesterday? I believe they did in NSW so there seems no rational explanation but rationality seems a rare commodity in the ACT Education department.

I don’t want a day off for Melbourne Cup Day.

Public Holidays in the middle of a school term are a nightmare – well the day you go back to work.

I can’t wait for next week – 4 days before the holidays start. Yes, the kids will really want to be there….

I was under the impression that the day after Boxing Day was a public service holiday to balance the Trades picnic day.

Does this mean that (Shock/Horror) public servants get a days holiday more than the rest of us plebs, or won’t this Melbourne Cup day holiday apply to them?

Who’s going to oppose this?! Surely Stefaniak’s opposition to this motion is an unpopular one? More public holidays are fine by me, anyway.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have my own family I’m forced to spend time with 🙂

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