Snapshot in Time: History of Geraldton Turf Club rivals Melbourne Cup

Geraldton Turf ClubGeraldton Guardian
Race day at the Meru track in 1910.
Camera IconRace day at the Meru track in 1910. Credit: Courtesy of Geraldton Regional Library Local History Collection

The Geraldton Turf Club is the oldest provincial race club in WA, forming in 1861 – the same year as another important event in thoroughbred racing in Australia.

The first Melbourne Cup was run in that year (and won by Archer). At this time the Geraldton Racecourse was known as the Victoria Race Club and was based at Meru, three to four miles from Geraldton town.

The first Victoria Cup was run in 1863 and won by Sultana. The move from Meru to the present Utakarra site took place in 1927, with the existing Meru grand stand relocated from Meru.

Racing was in recess during World War II from 1941 to 1944 and the grounds were leased to a local tomato grower. Hack racing was held during this period through to 1968.

In the early 1970s work started on the new Sunseeker Hotel. A shed was moved from the Railways Hotel to the Sunseeker site to operate as a temporary bar. When the Sunseeker was completed the shed was dismantled and moved to the Geraldton Turf Club grounds.

Known as The Barn, this building has served as the public bar to this day, with a few updates over the years. The start of the 1973-74 racing season saw the club’s name change from the Victoria Race Club to the Geraldton Turf Club.

Snapshots is an initiative of the Geraldton Regional Library. For more information or to donate a historical photo or slide, contact 9956 6659 or

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