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A few stories and history of my early years as a Mechanic, on the old ATL Melbourne Tote (Australia Circa 1976+)
By Don McKenzie My Early Tote Years - 1976-1988 | Industry Links | Acknowledgements | Julius History | A Few Stories | People Profiles | The Staff transfer from ATL to the TAB 1988 | TABLOID ATL Staff Photos 1989-1990 | Recent Photos | Email Correspondence | Win Place & Sting |

Stories Part One:
The Interstate Tote | Jimmy, Ray, and The Mobile Tote | Arthur, and the DQ Tote | Arthur and the String | Win-Place Semi-trailer Vans (1965-1976) | Doubles-Quinella Mobile  Van (1955-1974) | Cranbourne Races and New Years Day | Tote Installation Crew | Frank and his Jars | Graeme and the Colour Code Frank, Macca, and the Beer | Macca and the Union | Peter's Saturday Night | Well, this is the Sandown Race Track isn't it? |

Stories Part Two:
Trots-Harness Racing in Victoria | We have the Power | Welcome back Kotter | Is the Empire State Building, and a Darwin Cafe a match? | Echuca and the Race change | Arnna and the code barrel |

Trots-Harness Racing in Victoria
I started writing this article on the 6-February-2010, as I felt it was a good time to start piecing this story together, as tonight is the very last night of a Trots-Harness Racing meeting to be held at Moonee Valley. The very first night was 30-Oct-1976. I remember attending the last meeting at the old Showgrounds at Ascot Vale, and the first meeting at Moonee Valley. Naturally, a lot of new installation work, and de-commissioning of old gear at the Showgrounds, was done during this change over period. Next week, the Melton complex takes over completely for all harness meetings in the metro area. This will be the 13th-February-2010.
Pictured left is the old Showgrounds main tote in the days prior to my commencement. Paddock A, the main tote is the roof to the left of the picture, and the main Win-Place Odds indicator is in the top centre of the frame. As per the formula for all old Julius totes, the machine room is upstairs behind the main odds indicator. Below the machine room is the power plant room.

The Melbourne Showgrounds is where the annual Royal Melbourne Show is held every September, so during this period, most tote houses were converted into various venues to suit the needs of the show, including stock pavilions. Some of these areas were really on the nose when they returned from being stock yards, and back to tote houses.

Running the trots at the Showgrounds had many advantages. A railway station right on-course and extremely close to the city of Melbourne, and ample parking, generally inside the main gate. For many, the main attraction was the physical distance from the punters to the trotting track. You could literally get whipped in the face by the driver's whip or the horses tail, as you could position yourself right on the fence it you wished to do so.

My Showgrounds trots nights started off by loading J18s into the back of an ATL truck at some far away racecourse, after working for a full day at the races.. See Chris, Neil and the ATL tote truck. Graeme Twycross, myself, or both of us would do the run with the extra TIMs and the PRO Punters. Oh, and usually Joe Waddington in the back as well. I always paint this picture in my mind as Sandown being the pickup track, possibly because is was the longest distance, which gave us the minimum time to get the terminals into the tote houses and ready to race.

These were the days when we had a PDP 11/40 mobile computer van parked parallel to Paddock A. The the back end of the vehicle was just clear of the tote house queues, with the prime mover facing towards the main gate, or towards the top - right of the picture. Terminals used were J8s, J10s, and J18s. Michael Higgins, and Fred Estcourt were normally the Van Engineers, and Ken Long, the Technician. These three men would arrive at the track possibly around lunch time and set it up ready for the arrival of the extra terminals and staff. Ash Conroy - Control Supervisor, was always in attendance, and seemed to have everything under control at all times, from a staffing point of view.

So every Saturday night, the mad race would be on to get from track A to track B, carry the terminals into the tote houses, load the correct printing type into the machines, test the machines, meet at the bar for a few quick beers, and get back to the tote houses before race one sales commenced. Then when things settled down in your area, you went and got something to eat. These earlier few quick beers may include a round with the likes of Robin Bone - ATL Manager, Ian Davies -  Government Inspector, and whatever Technicians enjoyed a drink, such as Jim Kennedy. You had to be from the old school of 6 o'clock closing swillers, to be able to throw a few beers down in a terrible hurry.

To choreograph all of this transportation, I had to get my own private vehicle to the Showgrounds early in the morning, and pick up the truck from there, so that it all falls out at the other end of the trip. I remember picking Graeme up from his home many times, and sometimes from another track, as mobile vans had to be continually moved also. We simply did what was required to get the vehicles and equipment to where they were needed. Most Saturdays represented leaving home at around 07:00 Saturday, and arriving home Sunday morning at 00:30 to 01:00.

And what does one do when Saturday is finished for relaxation? We pack up after the meeting, move our cars up beside the mobile tote van, and start having a drink together sitting on the bonnets of the cars. Frank Dowdle hated his team drinking, but he always made an exception, and sat and had a chat with us on a Saturday night beside the old tote van. These were the days when drinking and driving was acceptable behaviour, and the booze bus wasn't even thought of. I know none of us would think of doing the same thing today. How things have changed in 35 years, even for old farts like us.
Picture courtesy of Peter Collier.

Pictured above is Paddock B at the Showgrounds. I was rostered here many times, however trots nights it didn't look like this of course. Peter Collier was able to update me on this picture, text below:


Peter Collier 8-February-2010

The Paddock B indicator at the Showgrounds that the picture is of, was installed during the short time that Bertram Totes ran the Showgrounds after ATL was dumped as the tote contractor. That was what it looked like until they built the new Paddock B Grandstand. The scaffolding was actually the temporary grandstand and was like this for probably 5 or more years. Notice that it is above the ladies toilet and if you worked this indicator you had a view of the women entering the toilet.

The indicator was sets of rotary knobs for each starter Win and Place and you turned the knobs to match the odds information that was rung through on the phone. The appropriate bulbs would light to form the appropriate display pattern, pretty crude as it operated on 120Volts AC.

Source Department of History, The University of Melbourne

Harness Racing

Harness racing (the trotter with a diagonal gait and the pacer with a lateral gait) was introduced to Melbourne by American, John Peck, who organised 'American Trotting Races' at Flemington racecourse in January 1860. In 1881 the Victorian Trotting Club, including the American breeder Dr John Weir, brought the sire Childe Harold to Melbourne, opening a trotting track at Elsternwick on 1 April 1882. This venture failed but John Wren staged harness racing at his proprietary course in Richmond and by 1910 controlled the sport under the aegis of the Victorian Trotting and Racing Association (VTRA), organising the Melbourne Thousand, the biggest prize for harness racing to that time, in the following year. After the Richmond course was closed in 1931 Wren moved harness racing to his Ascot racetrack.

The VTRA amalgamated with the Williamstown Racing Club to form the Melbourne Racing Club but moved out of harness racing after the Australian Labor Party Government eliminated proprietary tracks in 1945. The Victorian Trotting Control Board, a new body established to regulate harness racing, began night trotting at the Melbourne Showgrounds on 15 November 1947. The establishment of off-course totalisator betting in the 1960s, the televising of Saturday night meetings in the 1970s, the move to Moonee Valley in 1976, the promotion of the inter-dominion championship and great horses like Popular Alm and Gammalite, have all increased the popularity of the sport.

June Senyard


We have the Power
Most city tracks have power backup systems that they test on a regular basis. The electricians at Caulfield and Flemington tracks would warn us a day before they wanted to test their backup generators, so that we could coordinate firing up our computers after they started the generators on race morning. Once committed, the equipment would run the full day on the back up system. After all, if it can't run a meeting, it isn't a true backup system, and of no use to man nor beast. We would test the power backup systems once or twice during race meetings each year, at each course.

Initially, Moonee Valley had a generator house right next door to our control room area, and eventually they built a gigantic power house in the infield car parking area. When Macca built something, he really built it. He was able to swap over and run his backup system, and our gear never missed a beat. When you have hard drive platters spinning, and heads trying to access them, with too many power fails and variations, you could easily end up with a crashed drive, or corrupt data. Could often blow a power supply, or other electronics. Something you don't want or need is power fails.

Same principles apply today with modern PCs. That's why many people have a UPS, so that at least they can close the system down before power vanishes completely. Notebooks-Netbooks don't have the same problem, as they have a battery on board, and many drives are now going solid state, meaning no platers or heads to crash. I'll bet in 5 years, most home users won't have a tin box PC like they do today. In fact, the change is taking place right now.

Which brings me to the real story, Mornington Power.
A typical day at Mornington races in the early 1980s. Either Michael Higgins, or Fred Estcourt, and myself in the PDP 11/40 van, Jim Kennedy or Mark Dyball as the semi-driver - technician, and Peter Nelson also on board as a second Technician. The computers, and van air-conditioners, all purring away nicely. Along comes race 2 or 3, and everything is rosy in the garden up to this point.

Then the lights flicker in the van, the parallel 11/40 computers stop, the van dies, and drops into silence and darkness, as the air-conditioners grind to a full halt. No power! Not much we can do without power. We start to investigate if it is just the van, or a full course power problem, and within minutes Ted Moore, the Mornington race course manager dashes into the van and tells us to stand by. He will have the emergency back up power generator running within minutes, and dashes out the door again.

After a few seconds of blank stares at each other, we almost say together, "What emergency back up power?. We are at Mornington". Within minutes the lights come on, the air-conditioners start drumming away, and we go into our well rehearsed restart procedure. Another 5 minutes pass, and we are up and running again. Then we reflect on what Ted just told us. We must have a power back up system here at Mornington. How come it was never mentioned to us before?

Not to worry, all is well, and the backup works just fine. Ted rushes up the van steps again, "Can your turn your TIMs on, we can't sell tickets until you do". To make a long story short, we walk Ted over to the nearest tote house, and show him how each terminal plugs into a power point that supplies the normal 240VAC supply to each J18 TIM. His backup system apparently has only catered for the three phase outlet to the van itself, and a few essential systems around the track, such as the PA (audio system), photo finish, and video systems. But not the selling terminals.

We suggest we could power down some of the TVs and VDUs in the van that aren't essential, and if we can find enough power cords and patch blocks, we may be able to power up perhaps 10 or 12 terminals in the nearest tote house from the van itself. But to do any more than that, may jeopardize the van power, and that's with a judgment that someone allowed for a decent safety margin into the van supply. Within about an hour, normal power was restored before we were able to get much in the way of van power distibuted around the nearest tote house.

Turns out that as a result of available funding and a couple of committee meetings, Mornington got a firm of consultants in to map out and supply the back up power system for them. Looks like they not only forgot to tell us about the existence of this back up system, but also the consultants about the 70+ terminals they have sprinkled around about 10 or 12  tote houses in various locations on the race course.

When the Julius Tote installation was initially done in 1940, the machine room provided and distributed the 120VDC power right around the course for the J6 TIMs. If the machine room was powered up, the full tote had power and was fully operational. We were never asked, or told about the backup system. Perhaps Mornington got stuck at 1940's thinking.

I can't ever remember needing to use the power backup at Mornington again. I do know with the current tote system they use, and the old backup I just spoke about, they could easily power the full course, as the control equipment is equivalent to a couple of small PCs, with a few control VDUs hanging on the end of them.


Welcome back Kotter (AKA You killed my Rat, you dirty rottin Brother!)

The email below was doing the rounds recently. I spotted it and asked Kev if I could add it to the 'History", as it sounded very much like 4 or 5 situations I had encountered. Nothing has changed. I know the track and the equipment Kevin was working with, so I understood his frustration. Although it isn't an old "History" story, the same basic problem existed on both city and country tracks well before ATL arrived.

From: Kevin Johnston,  5-February-2010

Started out just like any other Friday morning trip to Pakenham,

Dark clouds, misty rain, headlights on, a beautiful day for the races left a bit earlier than usual due to it being my first meeting after some leave and maybe expecting a few problems ( didn't expect to get them in spades!).

First up" the old card in the odds box losing its address trick" followed by a second card needing to be taken out and reseated ha,ha I had those two faults covered. Whilst doing this I received a call from T.P. informing me of a fault from the previous meeting about the tech phone not working.I thanked him and continued on my merry set up. What do you know he was right the phone still wasn't working (he had reported it and a telstra tech had tested it to the sec.s office) and to my bemusement the rdc line failed to work as well at which I fudged the 2nd data line to get a line up to the rdc area.

I then attempted to come online with the fepc but had no response on the vdu,exchanged vdu (as mine have been known to not respond from time to time) to no avail tried "b"side to no avail tried a 3rd fe with same fault. At this point I realised there must have been a break somewhere in cable and rang Cro and he suggested to get "the cable guy" T.P. from Caulfield to help out and find fault which I promptly did. In the meantime Kenny "the cashman" Caygill arrived through the door in all his splendour saying "Should've had the system up by now!" K.C. not knowing my current predicament couldn't understand why I wasn't having a laugh with him. He then flew into action with me to install "the old umbilical cord trick" at which I had informed him that it had only been used once in my 30 years oncourse.

As we were running data leads across floor to run some pwt's the door flew open and there stood the silhouette of the "Cable Guy" who went out into the stormy weather with K.C.( who had earlier found a broken cable outside the back of the control tote building ).After a bit more searching they had found 6 or 7 cables that had been eaten through ( I thought it was the Chinese year of the Tiger not the Frickin' Rat they seemed to have had a party under the building!! ). After some lightning quick work by "Cable Guy Perkins" God bless him ably assisted by K.C.of course, peace reigned and the control room was re-set up and all worked fine.This was, as I said earlier my first day back after 35 days of leave.

Moral of the story

a) Don't take leave
b) Don't come back

p.s. Internal phone in committee not working but that's another rat tale!

Kevin Johnston
Oncourse Technical Support Officer


Is the Empire State Building, and a Darwin Cafe a match?

Early 1980s.
Frank Dowdle had a family trip to the US. He told us of his amazement when he was at the entrance to the lifts of the Empire State Building in New York. As he and his wife Kath were about to walk into the lift, Fred and Betty Conlon, two very long serving ATL tote staff, walked out. You have to queue to get into the lifts, but they managed to have a good chat before taking the ride to the 86th-floor observation deck, as millions had done before them.

July-August 2004
We had finally made it, and got to the same spot on the globe. This wasn't all that long a time frame after the 911 World Trade Centre tragedy, and security in all high profile iconic buildings was intense.

I had the video camera rolling as we approached the lift. I was going to capture this moment on video, as I had a premonition that a similar event would occur to us.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder, and I spun around with my camera rolling, to find a security guard about the size of John Candy. (Lasky, the Security Guard at Walleyworld). "Sorry folks, No videos here please. You can take all the pictures you want on the observation deck!".

Well at least I didn't get handcuffed and arrested, but no Tote staff to be seen anywhere. Looks like my similar amazing moment isn't going to happen.

Or perhaps I just had to wait a little longer.........

January 2008.
Cheryl and myself are having breakfast at the Baniyon Tree Cafe in Mitchell St. Darwin. Something we have done dozens of times. We now spend a month a year in Darwin, as we have children and grand children living there. While waiting for breakfast, I look over the top of my paper to see Ken Crook, and his wife Ann about to walk in. Ken had been a tote tech for nearly 40 years, and Ann is a long term seller.

Casually, like I was sitting in the lunch room at Sandown racetrack 25 years ago, I say "Hello Ann, Hello Ken", as they approach and almost walk past without spotting us, then look back to the paper. But I can't keep my eyes in the paper for more than a few seconds, as I know there are two jaws inches from the floor, and I'm about to break into a great big smile. I then remind them of the story of Frank many years ago in New York.

Ken had just passed his 65th birthday by a few days, had taken early retirement a year or two before. They decided to take the trip up to Darwin on the Ghan train, then go on and do the touristy things such as Litchfield, and Kakadu. These extra trips are something we could give them some guidance on, as we are almost locals these days. December 2009, we did the Ghan train ride from Adelaide to Darwin ourselves.


Echuca and the Race change.

I thought I would like to describe what a typical day was in the life of an ATL technician covering the country tracks, so I decided to try and remember back 30+ years, and piece one together, and include with it the following little Echuca story.

One day in 1978, and I am off to Echuca Night Trots with Arthur, our Win-Place counter tote, and the D-Q punch tape equipment. Arthur picks me up in the Ford truck around 09:00, so that we can arrive at Echuca by about 13:00. First race would be around 19:30 to 20:00. Mind you, pick up time can vary dramatically due to a number of factors. This isn't an exacting science.

It is a long drive in a big overloaded truck, and in those days, there are no country town bypass roads, or super divided highways. As Arthur has driven all the way from his property the other side of Pakenham, I take over the driving, and take it from Tullamarine up to Echuca.

It is also possible Arthur had to drive his car to Cranbourne racetrack, where the Ford truck was generally garaged, and swap over vehicles. Then he may have to struggle on his own, to move tote gear into, or out of the truck, to suit the set up we needed for Echuca Trots that night. He was generally able to do all the tote gear shifting during the week, but sometimes he got stuck, and had to use a two wheel trolley to move things around on his own. Items that were really too heavy for one man.

Depending on the the time we left, and how the drive went on the way up, we would usually stop and pick up a bite to eat at any town from Heathcote through to Rochester. The bakers shop was usually the spot. A pie, a coffee scroll, or similar, and some fresh milk for coffee of course. We had two eating options for lunch. If we were feeling really hungry, we would eat on the road, as soon as we got back into the truck. Or we may leave it till after we arrived at the track. This way, we could sit down, relax, and enjoy a cup of coffee at the same time. We always refuelled the truck at Echuca, on the way into town. You don't find fuel at midnight in these country towns in 1978.

The time finally comes, and we must get all of the the tote gear out of the truck, and into the tote house. Then set it up correctly, and fully test it. The truck has two sets of open racks that house the terminals. These are fixed on each side of the van, and house all of the J8, and J10 terminals that we use around the country tracks.

We know this routine well, and it is a precision military like task for us. The DQ and Win-Place control gear is housed in wooden boxes with handles each end, or in steel cubicles, again with handles. These boxes and cubicles sit on the floor, or are stacked on top of each other.

Together we manually lift the control gear into the tote house, and set it up on two table tops. One table for each set of control equipment.

Once the floor space of the van is cleared, we then do a two man lift of each terminal from the truck, into the correct position in the tote house.

I struggle to lift a J10 on my own, so we must do this all as a two man operation together. This would consists of 5 cubicles, one for the W-P tote, and four for the DQ gear, and three big wooden boxes that contain two D-Q punches, one for each pool, and one D-Q reader. Spares will be left in the truck.

Spread across all pools, we may have 20 terminals (TIMs) that need lifting into position in the tote house.

We then plug it all together, set up and install the printing type, and plug in the power transformers that are located in the rear section of the truck. Then we punch it all out and fully test everything. Total time, maybe 2 to 3 hours after arriving at the track if all goes well.

Around 17:00-ish, time to wash up, and have yet another coffee, and do any final on going repairs. Operational staff start to arrive about 18:00. Time to get out of their way, as they have paper work to set up, and money to be distributed, and can make good use of the table tops, if we are clear of them.

So we head into town either in the truck, or Robin's car if he gets there early enough to offer it. We always go to the Palace Hotel for a counter tea. Good prices, great meals, and they know us there, and get our meals under way in quick time. They know we have to get back to the track to open betting on the first race.

And that is what we do, open betting on time. A slow cold night from what I remember. All is going fine, right up until the final betting rush starts to come in on the first race, and the $10 Win-Place TIM starts placing bets.

There is a very loud electro-mechanical noise coming from every Win-Place J8 terminal, every time the $10 J8 TIM places a bet. Well actually 20 bets, as it steps the counter tote 20 times, as each bet represents $10.

Then the girls on the 50 cent and $2 TIMs tell us the race number is set to the last race. It doesn't take us long to realise that every time the  $10 TIM places a bet, the race change is operated on every terminal. It makes an outstanding mechanical noise that invokes very worried looks on every face in the tote house.

I decide to swap over the $10 TIM, while Arthur resets the race changes back to race one on all the other TIMs. No joy, the $10 Tim is still doing a race change on every terminal, on every bet it places on the pool.

I grab a pair of side cutters, lift every J8 into the air, and cut the race change operate wire off every race change solenoid. We then reset the race change solenoid escapements back to race 1, and continue selling.

We have some minor pay problems as some tickets got out the windows with the incorrect race number showing, but the added security of a different letter paper for each race, means that this minor problem is easily overcome with the punters, and when you have some one like Robin Bone on board as the tote supervisor to explain the problem to any disgruntled punters, these problems vanish quickly.

It means lifting the machines after each race, and manually operating the solenoid escapements to the next race position. Not a big job at all. I was more concerned about finding the problem, and fixing it before we could leave the track, as we can't leave it until next time we arrive for the next meeting. It has to be fixed tonight, or a special trip will need to be done on another day, to find and fix the problem.

I spend most of the night going through the wiring schematics of the terminals, the house wiring, and the Win-Place cubicle to see what may be causing the fault to occur.

I can see that the access wire of the single $10 J8 terminal that we have, is physically very close to the common race change at many points. However I need to be able to do some isolation tests to prove where the problem is, so I really need the betting finished to be able to pinpoint the problem.

After the last race, Arthur packs up the D-Q equipment, while I go through what I call "section isolation". I get to the stage where I am pretty sure it is the house wiring, as I know it isn't the $10 TIM, or the control equipment.

I grab a multi-meter and a schematic of the wiring layout, and get down on my backside next to the "Chocolate Block", which is a PMG type soldered connection terminal for joining two or more cables together. This is situated on the side of one of the table tops, where the Win-Place counter tote cubicle is positioned.

No need for the meter, I can see the five cent coin sitting between the wiring terminals of the $10 TIM private access wire, and the common race change wire. Possibly dropped there when the bankers were counting and distributing the money during the time we went into town to grab a bite to eat.

I remove the coin, get off my backside, and connect a temporary jumper wire to the first few J8 Race changes, so that they operate normally again, and start placing bets. Arthur joins me, and we satisfy ourselves that this was the problem, and it has now been fixed. Possibly only cost us 30 minutes to find and fix, so all should be well for our next Echuca meeting. The race change wires can be soldered back on permanently at the next country meeting, as the terminals go back into the truck, and move with us.

By the time we get everything packed back up into the truck, it would be well after midnight, and time to tour back to Tullamarine in Melbourne. I drive back as usual. We arrive about 03:30, and Arthur takes the truck onto Cranbourne to pick up his own car. He would be getting home another  2 to 3 hours after me.

At times, we would have a Colac or Sale day meeting after an Echuca night meeting. This would mean staying overnight. My place for Colac, and Arthur's place for Sale. You got enough time to grab perhaps 1 or 2 hours sleep if you were lucky, get a shower, a bite for breakfast, then off to the next track. You would need to arrive around 09:00 to start the process all over again for the day meeting.

We got very good money during these years, but as you can see, it was quite a load at times. By comparison today, the terminals and control equipment are simply specially packaged PCs, and easily handled by one man. They drive a mini-van, like a Toyota Hi-Ace I think it is, and I believe the more modern terminals are actually operated over the Internet.

I know many multi-million dollar pieces of machinery have come undone by a five cent part, but I'll never forget the five cent coin that brought the tote to a halt one cold night at Echuca Trots.


Arnna and the code barrel

One Saturday night at Moonee valley Trots during the J8, J10, & J18 era. Would be about 1979. It is around 23:30 at night and we have just unloaded all the TIMs. The technicians then gather in Paddock A to count and secure the TIMs printing type into locked storage, which is in this main tote house.

Paddock A is also the main gathering point for family and friends, as many people share a car ride to and from the course. The tote is a real family affair. We have tote supervisors married to tote bankers, sellers married to technicians, and many fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, (in some cases three generations), or just plain friends, and most of them meet, then wait for the other party to finish their shift, so they can all jump into a car, and get on their way home, hopefully before midnight. The waiting people would usually sit back out of the way, so that the still working staff can quickly finish off their final duties for the evening.

As almost always on a Saturday night, the Chief Engineer Frank Dowdle was present, and supervising the counting and storage of the Tim printing type.

Well we came up one code barrel short. This barrel prints the security code word on every ticket. See under Loading The TIMs.

Every Technician counts every barrel from his own tote house(s) before returning the barrels to the main pool, and each box of type is, or should be checked in by the roving technician. This was a technician designated to assist if additional pressure is experienced in certain areas, or casual less experienced technical staff are having problems.

On a Saturday night, the roving technician was usually Graeme or myself, but it was too many years ago to remember who we should pass on the blame of the counting of each group of barrels. Needless to say, we had not been able to pin point which tote house the single barrel was missing from.

Frank hits the roof! We start checking the closest tote houses, and the TIMs for the missing barrel. Then we gather back at Paddock A to check for any results. No Luck. Frank is getting really cranky at this stage. We know that we have to start at the start, and check every tote house, every machine, every crook, and every nanny, for this missing barrel.

No luck, Frank is seething at this stage, and the troops aren't very happy either. Not a good finish for the week. Oh well, it is well into Sunday morning now. The full technical team possibly spent a couple of hours looking for this barrel, and no luck at all. What could have happened to it?

Comes Monday morning, and we are getting organised at Moonee Valley to do a shift of the computer van, and other oddments of tote gear, onto the next race track. Normal tote circus stuff.

Graeme arrives with a big smile on his face, and holding up a Code Barrel! Where was it? His wife Arnna was working as a seller in Paddock A, and like all of the waiting staff, she was sitting well out of the way, next to the machine she had been selling on for the night. I don't recall who the technician was in Paddock A, and it doesn't really matter, but it appears that when the type was swooped up by the technician, this one barrel had rolled off the selling tote bench, and straight into Arnna's handbag, which was sitting on the floor, right next to the TIM.

The code barrel spent the weekend holidaying at the Twycross's, and Frank lived happily ever after. Well, until the next time someone stuffed up, which usually didn't take too long.


Melbourne Cup Day
On Melbourne Cup Day, we may have had 500+ sellers. This could mean a total staff of anywhere from 700 to 800 I would think, and just at Flemington Racecourse. Crowds could be as high as 110,000. Women always had to line up to get near a toilet.

Heaps to come including a special segment on the 1976 melb cup.

Source Department of History, The University of Melbourne

Flemington Racecourse

In March 1840, the first races were held on Saltwater Flat on the banks of the Maribyrnong River. The Port Phillip Turf Club took a lease of the site but, in 1852, was replaced by the Victoria Turf Club, which organised the first Melbourne Cup in 1861. The Victoria Jockey Club had appeared in 1857, and the two rival clubs amalgamated in 1864 to form the Victoria Racing Club (VRC). R.C. Bagot was appointed secretary, followed by Henry Byron Moore in 1881. An Act of Parliament gave the VRC legal control of the site in 1871, allowing it to make by-laws relating to racing there that, in turn, became applicable to racing generally.

Gradually a racecourse took shape. In 1861 a railway connected the racecourse to Spencer Street, and a new grandstand was built in 1873. Rose gardens and lawns were laid out and spaces designated: the betting ring, the birdcage, and the mounting yard enclosure. Flemington became a favourite with the public: the Hill opposite the finishing post; the Flat in the middle of the course with a small admission fee from 1913; and on the opposite side of the Maribyrnong River, Scotchmans Hill, which, while not as desirable, was free. When a new members' stand was built in 1925, it offered a more discrete space, but was situated well back from the finishing post. This tradition has been maintained: in 1978 the four-tiered public Hill Stand was completed, still positioned opposite the finishing post.

In other ways Flemington was conservative. It was not until 1931 that a totalisator was installed. This gave women direct access to gambling facilities, but in 1946 a white line in the members' stand was introduced, restricting women's access to certain areas. It was not until 1982 that women became entitled to be full members and the white line was lifted.

Apart from the Melbourne Cup, Flemington hosts other major races: the Victoria Derby (1855), the Oaks (1861), the Australian Cup (1863) and the Grand National Steeplechase (1866). The reconstruction of the racecourse has recognised its historical tradition in a large mural by Harold Freedman, in the 1990 restoration of Carbine's original stall, and in statues of Phar Lap and Bart Cummings.

June Senyard

See Also Melbourne Cup
Source Department of History, The University of Melbourne


Notes for little stories to come:

From Don:
Tape Seymour
Forecast Seymour
DQ Colac
Kettle and Kevin, he will hate this :-)
Mike and Fred Colac
Olympic Park and the passwords?
frank and the clock
frank and dale
frank and the hard drive

From Mick:
Blue Spaghetti
Brendans Tie and cogs and chain
PC's (or was it Brendans Finger) and cogs and chain
Star wine in Padd A
From Brian Conlon
> David Ferris, related a story about Harry Lane confronting an irate gun
> weilding security guard. The way he told it made it very interesting. I have
> been trying to get him to write it down. Do you see David at all? If you do
> you might remind him.