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Following a hiatus of stressful, soul-sucking examinations I’ve arrived at the helm of the blogosphere once again to render more of my recent aimless meanderings.

After the episodic drama that was my end of semester exams, set in the historically steeped Tea House at Randwick Racecourse, another drama emerged with news the Australian Turf Club is transforming the racecourse into a glitzy glass box, a showcase of it’s $200 million cash splash – oh and something called the theatre of the horse.

Theatre of the Horse – or expensive patch of lawn?

In what has been an increasing fetishism for egregious glass and steel construction, the ATC has taken a wrecking ball to the history of Randwick Racecourse, determined to increase their profit margins over the cultural significance of one of the venue’s most tenacious architectural highlights, the Tea House.

Tea House – facing Rose Gardens

Tea House – facing present QEII grandstand


Built during the outset of the First World War, the Tea House was built in the colonial Indian-pavillion style and rebuilt this way after a fire in 1917. The design of the building was contracted by Government Architects Robertson and Marks, who also designed the SCG, Challis House (Martin Place), and the Trust Building (corner of King and Castlereagh Streets). The Tea House functioned as a social commons for women in a period when they were segregated from the male dominated “sport of kings”.

Since then the Tea House has been positioned as a vestibule for an array of social functions mixing both the sexes, and as an examination hall for the University of New South Wales.

1937 Randwick, Sydney Cup with Tea House in background – photograph courtesy of Sam Hood

It seems a shame to lose something so significant, particularly as the building affords a cultural understanding of gender division in times when women were perceived by their male counterparts as unequal, even amongst the social activities. Though now, it stands as a testament and tangible milestone to the gains of women’s rights since then and social cohesion of both male and female punters in the present.

Screen shot from cached AJC page, dated Nov 6 2011.

Despite being promoted as a “Heritage listed” building, the Australian Turf Club failed to complete the heritage listing application to Randwick City Council or the State Heritage Register. It would appear the Historic status suited the climate of private bookings, though a spokesman for the ATC stated, ”no part of the racecourse is listed as an item of state significance on the State Heritage Register”. This appears to fly flagrantly in the face of the NSW taxpayer who will foot the bill for the racecourse’s redevelopment, though they cannot appeal the demolition of the Tea House or any other historical building at Randwick Racecourse as it is privately owned by the ATF.

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Segueing from tea houses to Thai Panang, the Taste of Thai is no stranger to my Friday night work escapades, or the impromptu drop-ins of friends. It’s popularity is unparalleled in Randwick, leaving other Thai restaurants ghostly.
There are often lines of young couples and a few families on the bench outside waiting to usurp the next available table by the large inviting window.

Taste of Thai is rapid ‘plate to table – fork to mouth’ hub, catering all Thai delights, and a place for those seeking halal prepared meals, satisfying many a sure return.

Now that I’ve settled into Randwick I’m most certain I will become a “regular” to this joint, just like my coffee shop up the road. Now to find “the local”.

Holidays now. Needless procrastination. And many party’s to attend. More soon….

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