Victoria - Colonial: 1855-1900.
The Telegraph and Horse Racing.

One of the important uses for the telegraph lines was to communicate the results of horse races and to enable patrons who attended the course to be contacted by their associates and office during the meetings "for business purposes".

See also Horse racing and Flemington


Two special date stamps for use with telegrams were used at Caulfield in 1956 and in 1957.



The Report for the Year 1880 noted that

"The direct telegraphic connection between Melbourne and Flemington racecourse has proved a great convenience to the public. The business on the last Cup day was the largest transacted on any one occasion, no less than 2,915 messages being transmitted, the fees upon which amounted to £169 2s.

The result of the principal race was known in the chief towns of Victoria and in Sydney, which was placed in direct communication with the course, one minute after the race was declared.

In connection with this subject, it may be mentioned that arrangements are made for delivery of messages on the course so that persons attending the races may be advised by telegraph of any matter of urgency; when the telegrams can be so delivered, they are taken out by messenger, otherwise their addresses are exposed to view in the windows of the Telegraph Office and they are delivered when applied for".



The Williamstown Racecourse opened at Altona in 1869. In 1885, the railway station there was a terminus for a branch line from the Geelong line.

The Easter Carnival of 1886 was conducted in wonderful weather, amusements were provided to the public and the train service was well patronised. "The Williamstown band played a selection of popular music on the lawn during the day. By the time tho bell rang for the horses to go on to the course, the enclosures presented a very animated appearance, the attendance being as large as any ever Been on this course. The patronage which this club has received has encouraged tho committee to make some important improvements. It is contemplated to erect a new stand of much larger capacity, and give a larger space of lawn in front. Rooms will be provided in this building for a telegraph office and the course will be connected with Melbourne by wire. The committee hope to have the new buildings completed before the date of their next meeting"
(The Argus 27 April 1886).

Williamstown Racecourse was closed in 1940 and the army commandeered the course for the rest of the War. In 1947, the Williamstown Racing Club combined with the Victorian Trotting and Racing Club to form the Melbourne Racing Club.



On 9 December 1872, the Ballarat Courier carried the following investigative report:

"As some curiosity is felt to know how the temporary Telegraph Office on the racecourse (at Ballarat) during the three days of the meeting of last week paid, we endeavored to ascertain particulars but, as the receipts seem to be one of the secrets of the office, we were unsuccessful in our enquiries. We learn, however, in general terms, that the temporary office was well patronised and that the receipts are satisfactory. Mr. Bechervaise desires us to express his thinks to the stewards, Mr. Gibbon, the Secretary, and to Mr T. Wilson, for their hospitality and courtesy to himself and staff during the time they were engaged on the course sending and receiving telegrams".


The Walhalla guy who missed his bets.


As of 1890, the following is the list of lines which served Race Meetings:

Line 43: Melbourne to Caulfield Racecourse.
Line 44: Melbourne through Melbourne Cricket Ground to Caulfield Racecourse.
Line 53: Melbourne through Cattle-yards to Flemington Racecourse paddock.
Line 54: Melbourne to Flemington Racecourse (paddock).
Line 55: Melbourne to Flemington Racecourse (paddock).
Line 56: Melbourne to Flemington Racecourse (paddock).
Line 57: Melbourne through Hill to paddock, Flemington Racecourse.
Line 58: Melbourne to Flemington Racecourse (paddock) with fork from Newmarket to Moonee Valley Racecourse.
Line 59: Melbourne to Press Room, Flemington Racecourse with fork from Newmarket to Moonee Valley Racecourse.
Line 60: Melbourne to Press Room, Flemington Racecourse.
Line 61: Melbourne to Press Room, Flemington Racecourse.
Line 62: Melbourne through Malvern test box, Caulfield , Oakleigh, Dandenong, Berwick, Packenham, Drouin, Warragul, Moe, Traralgon, Toongabbie to Walhalla (on Railway Department poles from Traralgon to Toongabbie).
Line 73: Melbourne through Albert Park, St Kilda West, St Kilda, Elsternwick Racecourse to Brighton.
Line 110: Melbourne to Press Room, Flemington Racecourse.
Line 148: Sandhurst through Cattle-yards to Epsom Racecourse.
Line 159: Coonewarre to Geelong Racecourse (loop).
Line 169: Coonewarre to Geelong Racecourse (loop).
Line 161: Coonewarre to Geelong Racecourse (loop).
Line 166: Melbourne through Malvern Test Box to Caulfield Racecourse.
Line 167: Melbourne through Malvern Test Box to Caulfield Racecourse.