became firmly and thoroughly established when, in 1844, plans were
submitted to the Town Council, and, that body approving of them,
the place was declared to be a reserve for the purposes of racing.
were appointed, in whose name the ground was held, these including
the Crown Commissioner of the day, the Surveyor-in-Charge, Mr. J.
C. Riddel, Mr. Dalmahoy Campbell and Mr. William J. Stawell.
the Superintendent of Port Phillip declared this transaction not
to be legal, and a new grant was completed on October 22nd, 1847.
The land included those portions of the Parish of Doutta Galla from
23 to 28 inclusive, beside the Saltwater or Maribyrnong River, the
trustees being Mr. Riddel, Mr. Stawell, Mr. Dalmahoy Campbell again,
and Mr. Colin Campbell.
The term of
years was subsequently increased from ten to twenty-one, which,
on the latest renewal of the compact, was finally extended to ninety-nine,
at the rent of one peppercorn per annum. The spot was then known
to the inhabitants as "The Racecourse," but a little village
now began to grow up in the neighbourhood, and this was soon christened
"Flemington," in honour of a genial butcher who supplied
meat to the hamlet, and whose name was Bob Fleming.
In those early
days everyone went to the races, and the route to and from the course
was either by river-steamer or by road. The boats left the wharves
at eleven o'clock and returned at sunset, and you may be sure there
were hot times in the town on nights after the races. Bands and
Christy minstrels enlivened the voyage by water. Passengers on the
trip home not infrequently toppled overboard, and one or two were
road were common. At one meeting alone three men were killed, two
being run over by vehicles, and one by a runaway horse. Assaults
were common, and fighting very popular.
afterwards became Sir John—was attacked whilst taking a meditative
canter round the course, and struck over the head very viciously
by a ruffian armed with a heavy hunting crop. It was proved to have
been a premeditated crime.
Not being disabled
by his injuries, and being a man of much determination and courage,
O'Shanassy turned upon his assailant, pursued and captured him,
and had the satisfaction of seeing him receive a sentence of six
post stood alongside the river bank somewhere between the present
mile and seven furlong barriers. It was a handy spot at which the
steamers could tie up to gum trees on the banks, and could disembark
their passengers, but it had the disadvantage of being a considerable
distance from the top of the steep, rising ground which soon became
known as Picnic Hill.
It was not,
however, until the sport had been in existence for some twenty years
that it was found advisable to change the winning post to its present
site, thus converting the Hill into a permanent, convenient and