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Melbourne is a fantastic city to visit – you can easily spend days entertained in the CBD just by visiting the art galleries and museums (if you can drag yourself away from the shops)! Every major  Australian  city has great shopping and interesting museums, but Melbourne has something rather more unique: the  Australian  Racing Museum. This is Australia’s only museum dedicated to horse racing, and if you like a flutter you will enjoy a visit. Anyone who dreams of winning big with the latest hot racing tips would do worse than to spend a few hours at Champions, the  Australian  Racing Museum.

Located on Federation Square at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Street, you’ll will find central Melbourne parking expensive, but that’s no barrier as most tram, train and bus lines will take you to the Racing Museum’s doors. Alternatively, take the old-style, free tourist tram – which stops outside at Flinders Street station.

Champions, as the  Australian  Racing Museum is known, is open every day except for  Good  Friday and Christmas Day. There is a charge for adults but children are free, and those who join the Friends of the Museum gain unlimited free entry plus discounts on merchandise at the museum shop and at other Melbourne attractions.

The main displays of the museum highlight the history of thoroughbred racing in Australia, including the horses, jockeys, trainers and all the other characters, which make horse racing such a vibrant part of the  Australian  cultural landscape. There are regular free tours with trained guides.

For the kids, there are school holiday events and other activities which range from designing their own Melbourne Cup to making jockey clips. They’ll find the museum creative and fun, as well as educational.
The museum hosts special exhibitions all year, so even locals will have something new to see on a return visit. Exhibitions have included race day fashion spectaculars (anyone remember Jean Shrimpton’s infamous mini?) and exhibits highlighting special people and horses associated with the industry.

If you have a special love of racing and need a place to host a small corporate event or even a wedding, then Champions has their own exclusive event space, which holds up to 300 with stunning views across the Yarra River. Catering is available for groups as well.

Watch out for special events at Champions around Melbourne Cup time, of course. They also celebrate the 2 August “horse’s birthday” – the day that every thoroughbred  Australian  horse has its official birthday.
It’s not all about fun and entertainment at Champions, however. The museum also has a serious research function. Their archives include the Australasian Turf Registers (1870-1977),  Australian  Race Results (1978-2003), copies of The Australasian (1866-1941), as  well  as many other clippings, books, videos and DVDs related to racing. Entry to this part of the museum is free but bookings are required. There is also a paid research service.

Regardless of whether you are a tourist or a local, Melbourne’s  Australian  Racing Museum is sure to offer something for the racing enthusiast. Everyone will probably find this cleverly put together museum has something to hold their interest. If you are looking for a present for a racing enthusiast, then obviously the museum shop will be the place to find an unusual piece of memorabilia How about betting tips from the 1870’s or the year of their birth?

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