THE HISTORY OF BURRANDOWAN PICNIC RACE CLUB
Eleven men gave birth to the Burrandowan Picnic Race Club when they met at Mullers Crossing on the 27th November, 1921.
The first meeting was held on the 13th May, 1922 at the present site. Only grass fed horses, which had been paddocked under supervision for one month prior to the race, were eligible, and owners and jockeys had to be Club members. Membership was half a guinea, luncheon was 1/6 and afternoon tea was 9 pence.
In 1936, due to the outbreak of the Second World War, the members voted to close down racing until the committee thought fit. A race meeting was held in 1941, with the profit of 21 pounds, 19 shillings and 6 pence being donated to the Patriotic Committee, the Red Cross and the Comforts Fund, but in the aftermath of the war, racing didn't resume until 1953.
The race committee introduced a race for unregistered horses in 1954 and for some years the fastest of the districts stock horses battled for this trophy. The presence of a special constable at race meetings was requested in 1955 to control the crowd.
Racing at Burrandowan steadily progressed through the sixties, seventies and eighties. Jockey scales were purchased, insurance was arranged for both the public and for jockeys and a race for lady jockeys was added to the programme in 1967. In 1980 photo finish equipment was installed and grass-fed horses were no longer catered for.
In the 1930s a boxing-wrestling tent was allowed at the race venue and in 1956 a clay pigeon shoot (which persists to this day) was added to the programme. The Burrandowan Picnics have always been a great social event with dances, first in the old hall, and more recently under the stars, following the days racing and the traditional barbeque.
The social standing reached new heights with two Vice Regal visits in 1978 and 1980 by His Excellency Sir James Ramsay and Lady Ramsay.
A perusal of the Club's minutes reveal some recurring themes. In the early years, the mowing of the track was a constant concern as were the toilet facilities, the latter problem finally being rectified in 2004. The details for the evening dance commanded much of the Club committee’s attention, catering arrangements, the band to be engaged and the ordering of Pops for the dance floor.
The Burrandowan Races faced their biggest threat since the Second World War when their future was in doubt due to the State Governments restructure of country racing. But these races belong to the people and at the 81st annual race meeting, 1,000 race goers marched down the straight in protest at the prospect of losing their races.
The club decided to fund the 2004 race from its own reserves and the event was an outstanding success. Burrandowan Race Club continued self-funded race meetings for the next six years.
The Burrandowan Picnic Races are part of our country heritage with both locals and visitors enjoying the days racing in the sticks, the evening barbeque in the pits and the nights dancing under the stars.