The gold rush returned to Croydon last week in the form of the $175,000, 18-carat gold Emirates Melbourne Cup, as part of its tour of Australia and New Zealand.
Croydon was the only town in north-west Queensland on this year’s tour and Croydon Shire Council Mayor Trevor Pickering said the town went all out to celebrate the cup-that-stops-a-nation’s one day in town.
“Croydon Shire Council applied to host the cup back in March, and was selected as one of 34 towns to host the ‘People’s Cup’ on its journey around Australia and New Zealand,” Cr Pickering said.
“We were also incredibly excited to welcome the Cup’s chaperone, Wendy Green, to town who owns Rogan Josh – the 1999 winner of the Melbourne Cup.
“It’s not every day that the Melbourne Cup comes to Croydon, so we wanted to make sure today was jam-packed, showcasing our town and giving the locals a taste of the nation’s most famous race.”
First stop on the tour was the Gulflander train which plies the route to Normanton and is Croydon’s number one must-see for any visitor.
Since 1889, this historic railway has transported many notable visitors – and the Melbourne Cup is no exception.
Getting on at the historic Golden Gate siding, the Cup joined locals and travellers on-board the Gulflander making their way to Croydon station.
From there, the Cup did a tour of Croydon’s sights: the historic railway station, the local school, the heritage precinct which features the town hall, court house and police station.
The Cup also visited local cattle stations, including Esmeralda station, once owned by Etienne de Mestre, trainer of the first Melbourne Cup winner Archer.
“We finished off our Cup-day with a race-themed party at the rodeo grounds, complete with fascinators and fireworks,” the mayor said.
“The locals loved it and for the first time ever, I’m pleased to say Croydon took out the Melbourne Cup!”
QR Executive General Manager Cathy Wilson said having the Cup on board the Gulflander created high excitement among staff and passengers.
“Queensland Rail prides itself on connecting communities across Queensland, so we jumped at the chance to be involved in Croydon’s big cup day,” Ms Wilson said.
“It’s great to see these kinds of opportunities being offered to remote communities in Queensland.
“It is a long way from Flemington, that’s for sure, but for the punters on board the legendary Gulflander, odds are today will never be forgotten.”
Each year since 2003, the Emirates Melbourne Cup has toured Australia and New Zealand.