Ever since the first race in 1861, the Melbourne Cup has been associated with the arrival of spring and a carnival atmosphere: fashion, glamour and garden parties. It's also one of the richest handicap races in the world, with a winning pool of $6 million.
At Flemington, the Cup cuts across social strata and unites a massive crowd: the fashion forward on the lawns, colourful characters picnicking in the car park and business types hobnobbing in corporate marquees, all loosening up as the champagne flows.
This image gallery features pictures from the Library's rich and eclectic collection, selected to celebrate the Cup's 150 anniversary in 2011. It provides a snapshot of what makes our favourite race so special, from frivolity in the car park to the serious business of winning.