If you haven’t experienced the Bong Bong Cup then you haven’t experienced Picnic racing at its finest.
Travel down the Hume Highway and make your way to the picturesque town of Bowral in the Southern Highlands of NSW and you will discover one of the oldest race clubs in Australia.
The Bong Bong Picnic Race Club was established in 1886 and a horse named Don Antonio won the inaugural Bong Bong Cup in 1887. Originally raced in the grounds of Throsby Park, in later years the meeting was moved to “Wyeera”, an aboriginal word meaning “turning of the soil”.
Wyeera has developed into a fine facility over the years. Long gone are the days of 2 x 2 posts in lieu of proper running rails, ashes from a local brick works to fill some of the swampy parts and strand starting barriers. Gone too is the notorious “drop” just past the winning post where unsuspecting jockeys sometimes became airborne. These days the course is a professional looking track but one which still holds its picnic race atmosphere and charm with the famous hill in the centre of the course, the source of many tales about what can happen out of sight of the stewards.
The Bong Bong Picnic Race Club is awash with history and proudly possesses the 1898 Bong Bong Cup which was won by Mr Thomas Rutledge’s ‘Record’. To the clubs credit it was the first to have a female secretary, conduct races restricted to lady riders and was the first meeting to be televised in both black, white and in colour.
Once considered the largest picnic race meetings in the world, todays event is now open to members and their guests only. In 1985 crowds reached almost 35,000 but due to poor crowd behaviour by some revellers, the meetings were closed, and in 1992 were revived but under strict crowd control.
Fridays meeting will highlight 150 year celebrations in the Southern Highlands. The meeting is a six race programme with many metropolitan and regional trainers contesting in the feature event. This year the Club has introduced the Bong Bong Stayers Trophy, A Class 1/Maiden event held over 2300 metres. There will also be the highly competitive Fashions On The Field competition that will be judged on period costume as part of the Bowral/Moss Vale townships 150 year anniversary.
So if you are looking for an adventure or adding to your bucket list, a trip to the Southern Highlands for the Bong Bong Cup is a must for anybody and everybody.
For more information contact the office at Bong Bong Picnic Race Club 4862 2155 or www.bongbongprc.com.au
If you are interested in a more detailed look at the history of the Bong Bong Picnic Race meetings along with amazing photographs you may like the following weblinks