Echoes of the past : Memoirs of the forties
The Warwick Daily News, April 16th, 1938.
By " Gooragooby", Dalveen.
Late in June, 1846, the sporting propensities of the Brisbane people had so developed that it was decided to hold a three days' meeting at New Farm. The events were not numerous, neither were the prizes of considerable value, nevertheless the interest taken in them was keen in the extreme.
The attendance on June 16, 17 and 18, 1846, was - as per the Moreton Bay Courier's account of the racing - "not only numerous, but boasting more than an average of respectability" (whatever that may mean). The racecourse, too was graced by "a goodly number of the fair sex dressed out in holiday attire, " which, we are assured, "with the bright costumes of the gentleman jockeys, gave a most animated appearance to the scene." We are still further assured that "it only wanted a band of music to add to the harmony of the proceedings, and make the mirth and excitement complete."
Whatever may have been wanting to complete the flow of mirth was to some extent supplied by the excitement consequent on the many "spills" for which the meeting became noted.
The account given by a gentleman jockey (no less a personage than one of our earliest Downs pioneers, Mr. Henry Sturt Russell) of one of these "spills", as recorded in his reminiscences, is certainly worth repeating. Extract from 'Genesis of Queensland' H.S. Russell 1888 page 384.
While intensily interested in the proceedings he was approached by Mr. Frank Bigge's French groom, Douyere, who thus accosted him :
- " I was to ask you, sare, if you would ride Voltigeur, for Mr. Frank in the hurdles, sare ? His veight is too mush, he vill take de 'velters' hisself on de old horse."
- " Oh, yes, Douyere," said I.
- "Tank you, sare ! Now I will tell you, sare ! Voltigeur can jump well, like de gangaroo ! You do ride, I tink, some ten stone. He will carry you like von monkey ! But, sare, I must tell you : Voltigeur do not talk the English. Ven you come to de hurdle you touch him on de shoulder vid de vip, and cry 'hoopela' in his own language."
- "Ay, ay ! Douyere. I'll remember."
Out of the scales into Voltigeur's saddle -sweet little horse he was !
-"Mind sare !" were the last words I heard after "off" - "mind sare, he talk de Français !"
- "Hoope-la !" shouted I with the prescribed touch on the shoulder, and over he went "like a gangaroo." "Hoope-la !" at the second ; "Hup ! " at the third - forgetting myself in the heat.
Voltigeur caught the top bar, and making a complete somersault, rolled over, me under !
Somewhat confused by the "pip", the voice of Douyere brought to my senses.
-"Ah! sare, you did call de 'Hop' not de 'Hoope-la', Voltigeur did not - ne comprend pas l'Anglais !"
Many years subsequent to the foregoing the Frenchman's widow (Mrs. W. P. Douyere) conducted the brick hotel at the south-west corner of Albion and Victoria Streets, and I can recall the days (1879) when Mrs. Douyere kept the Volunteer Arms Hotel, in Guy Street, somewhere in the vicinity of the present day Masonic Temple. In the late seventies her son, the late Vaudeville Douyere, was a class mate of mine, under "Bob" Stewart, at the Warwick West School, opposite.
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