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Discover the Races

Historic crowd shot South Australia









South Australian’s have always enjoyed a day at the races.

In 1838, the first race meeting was held, barely a year after European settlement

The 1st of January 1838 saw the first race meeting held at a racetrack in Thebarton.

Situated upon a gum studded plain along the river, the stumps of freshly felled trees dotted about the perimeter of a dusty track. Eight hundred of Adelaide’s two thousand residents congregated to enjoy the festivities.

The South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register reported the event as being

“a great sensation…booths for refreshment and dancing were erected, and every attention was paid to render the affair worthy of those fond of the sport, which was excellent.”

  A description of the gathering highlights the diverse group of new Australians and their horses:

“…matted-coasted nags form small farms and outstations as far afield as the Para, island horses shipped at pain and risk from Van Diemen’s Land, and sturdy-muscled hacks which had cone down from the overland route with Hawden, Bonney, Sturt or Eyre. There was no aristocracy of  blood or looks.”

Today South Australia boasts 25 clubs, from the remote Roxby Downs to metropolitan South Australian Jockey Club and the wine country club of Penola in the south-east of the state. South Australians still enjoy the thrill of a thoroughbred race event.


From the book: Sport of Pioneers