By Jessica Anstice and Mitchell Clarke
Cardinia residents had a once in a lifetime experience when the iconic Melbourne Cup visited the region as part of the 17th annual Lexus Melbourne Cup tour on Thursday and Friday.
Accompanied by Victoria Racing Club ambassador Georgia Connolly and celebrated racing writer Keith Hillier, the ‘People’s Cup’ stopped by several locations in Cardinia.
On Thursday, the cup appeared at Bunyip Primary School, Hillview Aged Care Facility and Bunyip Recreation Reserve and on Friday, Upper Beaconsfield Pony Club, Beaconhills College, Ambulance Victoria Pakenham Branch, Cardinia Shire Council offices, Kooweerup Nursing Home, Nar Nar Goon CFA and Pakenham Racecourse.
Students at Bunyip Primary were thrilled to see the cup, with students given the opportunity to ask Ms Connolly and Mr Hillier questions about the history of the cup, but students were more interested in knowing where the cup had been.
“Has the cup been to Russia?,” one student asked.
“Has it been to Turkey?,” another asked.
A spokesperson from Bunyip Primary School said it was an honour for Bunyip to be chosen on the Cup Tour.
“I know my dad, who is nearly 80, has never seen the cup, so for those kids it’s just great, it’s quite personal,” she said.
At Hillview Aged Care in Bunyip, Mr Hillier presented residents with interesting facts about the Cup, including the fact the Cup is, allegedly, the only sporting trophy in the world that travels with a passport and needs to go through the same checks as passengers.
Residents were also told that over 1200 journalists report on the Melbourne Cup each year.
The first stop on Friday morning was Upper Beaconsfield Pony Club.
“It’s really only now that the children are realising the significance of what the actual cup coming to Beaconsfield is,” Upper Beaconsfield Pony Club assistant deputy chairwoman Amanda Dustan said.
“Now they’ve seen it, they realise what it is worth and how special it is. The whole club is quite excited and really pleased to be a part of it.
“It really does put our club on the map.”
Pony club member Tyra Braack-Noon described the cup as “pretty awesome”.
“I can’t believe how shiny and expensive the cup actually is,” she said.
“We’re really lucky for the cup to come here.”
Club committee member Helen Colliver said the children were “terribly excited” to see the Melbourne Cup.
“Our club has a capacity of 40 members and it’s full with a waiting list so we feel very privileged that Victoria Racing Club agreed to come out and bring the cup,” Ms Colliver said.
The Cup then travelled to Beaconhills College Pakenham campus, where students gathered on the oval for a special parade led by college captains.
“It’s really a privilege to be able to host the Melbourne Cup,” Beaconhills College head of junior school Kristen Smith said.
“It’s lovely for the children to be able to all participate in what is essentially a fairly significant Victorian celebration.
“The Grade 3 students are exploring the big idea that celebrations endure through time and culture and so they asked some questions based on what they’re learning at the moment. They also made their own hats and ties.”
Paramedics at the Ambulance Victoria Pakenham branch were also thrilled to get up close and personal with the gold trophy.
Area Manager 9 Andrew Watson said”It’s something different and something new for us but the VRC invited us to be a part of this special day,” he said.
“It’s good to be part of something exciting in the lead up to the spring carnival.
“It’s awesome to see the cup and hold it and get some pictures, it’s a bit surreal to know this will be awarded to the winner on the day.”