Although keen on sport generally, I have never really been interested in horse-racing. But plenty are, particularly here in Australia where it has often been said that the general population would bet on two flies crawling up a wall. There are currently only two tracks in Brisbane at which horses are raced - Doomben and Eagle Farm, which are right next to each other in the Ascot/Hendra area. But there have been others, and one is the Albion Park Raceway, situated just past the Breakfast Creek Bridge around 4 km from the CBD. I couldn't establish the precise date of its construction, but it seems to have appeared just after the new Breakfast Creek Bridge was built in 1889 and the opening of the Breakfast Creek Hotel in 1890. The following picture was taken around 1900 at Hamilton, and shows the racecourse with Newstead in the background. I think you can just make out the hotel in the right centre of the photograph - click the picture to see a larger image.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #142834)
This next image is from the finish of a race on the sand track in 1937 and shows the houses on Hamilton Hill next to the course.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #106090)
The sport of racing is currently going through a period of rationalisation and amalgamation, and there is a proposal to sell off some of the land in this complex to allow further development. My recent image from a similar position (below) indicates that the 17ha of real estate available at the course would be extremely valuable if redeveloped, given that it is situated next to the exclusive suburb of Hamilton and its proximity to the city. Gallopers no longer race here, as the track is now used exclusively for greyhound and trotting races.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)
During WWII, sister Brisbane racecourses at Eagle Farm and Doomben were used as camps for the large numbers of US service personnel posted to Brisbane. Albion Park kept operating as a race track during that time, and was a popular venue that the servicemen used for R&R. American film star John Wayne made a promotional visit to Albion Park in December 1943, and he was pictured there (below) with a Lt-Col Blackween.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #102486)
As uninterested as I am in racing, I have even less interest in gambling, because I find that money is too hard to come by just to throw it away. My father impressed on me that bookmakers are the ones with the expensive cars and houses, whilst the punters usually are from "struggle-street". The following photograph, taken at Albion Park in 1941, appears to show bookmakers on their way home after a spectacularly unsuccessful day in the betting ring. However, they are shoeless merely because of one of Brisbane's spectacular afternoon storms.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #66225)
Click here for a Google Map.
Next: Hidden sanctuary