I had lived in Adelaide for 20 years before I left for the east coast and, eventually, the UK. I have been back for 6 years and in all this time I had totally failed to attend the 'Greatest Picnic Races in the World': Oakbank.
Each year I would suggest to Himself that we attend.
"We can take the kids," I would suggest,"it'll be a nice day out."
His vaguely negative answers over the years included: possibility of inclement weather, lack of funds, other commitments until finally this year he came clean and admitted he hates the crowds and the traffic. It became obvious to me that if I wanted to pursue the dream of a day out at Oakbank I would be going on my own. Fortunately, as you may be aware, I have been grooming the Baby Angel in the fine art of gambling and attending Race Carnivals. Quickly gathering up yet another of her delightful friends, we headed, quite literally, for the Hills: The Adelaide Hills, and the picturesque town of Oakbank.
I am sorry I didn't get any shots of the drive but that would be because I was..er...driving. April is autumn in Adelaide and The Hills are dressed in rusts, yellows and reds as the deciduous trees planted by our European forbears move into their most glorious phase. We passed freely along the Eastern freeway and turned off, unimpaired, to Hahndorf and Woodside. We continued to sail merrily along the beautiful country roads with no hint of the mythical traffic of which Himself had spoken with such deep foreboding. The BA's friend, Blondie, pointed out notable sites along the way as it turned out her pioneering family had a bit of history in these parts. There was even an 'ancestoral home' which again, I failed to snap as I was, still, driving.
Finally, we took the turn off for Oakbank Race Track and here we met our first obstacle (that's my little white Corolla in the middle there)...Apparently the entry to the car park crosses the racetrack and Race 4 was about to start. Of course there had been no traffic on the way, we were three hours late as usual. Mind you, so were all those cars around us! Never mind, a 15 minute delay gave me time to snap some shots and the girls time to watch the horses as they flew past the gate.I know Mum, don't say a word about her hair. She is currently growing it out.
Picnic races mean elegance and inebriation in equal quantities. Well, maybe slightly more of the latter, especially as the day wears on.
We were finally admitted to the grounds and followed the queue of latecomers into the centre of the track which had been converted into a funfair and carpark. There was a little bit too much of the 'squealing princess in hat, heels and champagne stupor' from this vantage point and so after a quick perusal and purchase from the variety of food stalls, we made our way across the track to the grandstand. This time, my apprentices took to the art of 'form perusal' with frightening ease, especially considering it was Blondie's first time. Here we are even comparing the form given in two separate sources! My first pick (as soon as we got there with no form guide) was a dud but my second was a second and the two novice punters were well pleased when 'Akatack' came home at decent odds rewarding them with a massive $9.00 or so each from an eachway bet! I scored a third on the last race and the shadows were growing long on the warm afternoon. It was time to face the crowds for the long drive home.I love this shot, especially the barefoot girls in their finery on the left. The Races can be a long, busy and liquid day; very hard on the elegance factor!
Despite Himself's worst portent of traffic mayhem, we queued for a paltry 15min to leave the grounds and then it was smooth sailing all the way home. *pthhhhhtttt* (blows raspberry) to you Himself. This is where we found him on our return! You know, once you wee on a cat she is yours for ever.