Fannie Bay Racing, Saturday 2nd January 2016

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Horseracing is a popular activity in Australia with so many race courses that nobody seems able to count them. The information on the internet suggests that there are more than three hundred and sixty but less than four hundred. That seems a lot but it’s a big country, a big country where, would you believe it, there are flowers in the desert and you can see the sun in wintertime.

The nearest racecourse to us in Darwin is Fannie Bay. It’s a three-mile walk away along a coastal path and as I had a Saturday off work Jen and I had a wander up there.

We’ve walked the path a few times, generally going on to the Eastern Point nature reserve a couple of miles further on. The coastal aspect of the walk is good, it’s always enjoyable walking with the sea in view, but if you go as far as the nature reserve it gets even better as you can stalk kangaroos. We don’t often get closer than about thirty yards to them as they are fairly wary of humans. Maybe I should take some snacks for them.

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This time we were veering off to the racecourse and so the only wildlife of note that we saw were mud crabs. They are quite skittish too, but whilst most of them dash for their burrows when they see us, others decide just to sit perfectly still. They make for better photos. It’s a pity the kangaroos don’t try the same technique.

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It was ten dollars admission to Fannie Bay. If we’d been prepared to pay eighty dollars each we could have gone in the posh bit. Unfortunately the dress code stipulated no shorts or thongs. Thongs are flip-flops in Australia, meaning we didn’t need to have our undercrackers checked, but I’d have failed on the shorts rule anyway and so we had to leave the elite to watch the racing without us.

Our ten dollars entitled us to go just about anywhere we liked at ground level, including an air-conditioned bar and a betting hall. They had three bookies, all of whom wisely pitched up indoors in the cold rather than trackside.

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I like to watch the racing outside and so we took a table next to an outdoor bar and worked our way through a variety of bottled bears and ciders. None of them struck me as being particularly good; maybe I’m losing the taste for it.

After a while I visited a food kiosk for a snack.

“What are those?” I asked, pointing at a tray of something that I suspected might be mini sausage rolls.

“A dollar each” was the response from the lady behind the counter, leaving me none the wiser as to the content. They turned out to be spring rolls, filled almost exclusively with bamboo shoots. No wonder she was evasive.

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The races took place every half hour or so, but for those who wanted a bet every five minutes there was racing from around the rest of Australia shown on the screens. I think the programme listed close to forty races and a lot of people appeared to have an interest in all of them.

I suppose if you picked your horses and placed your bets in advance it would be ok, but I quite like the leisurely rhythm of get your beer, pick your horse, place your bet, move closer to the track to watch the race and then repeat on a half-hourly cycle. Of course, it would be better if the cycle included a return trip to the bookies to pick up some winnings but we drew a blank all day.

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Later in the day as the east coast racing concluded the television betting was supplemented by greyhounds and trap racing. It would have been a lot to keep on top of.

When it was over I’d hoped to find a taxi heading back into town as there’s a limit to how much walking in the sun is sensible. Unfortunately there were none to be seen and so we had to retrace our route along the coastal path and frighten the mud crabs for the second time in a day.

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2 Responses to “Fannie Bay Racing, Saturday 2nd January 2016”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Bottled Bear? That’s where you’re going wrong.

    Unless it’s some Chinese style libido enhancer?

  2. onthetrailofthelionking Says:

    Bottled bear sounds like good stuff, although I was never much of a Hofmeister fan.

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