Cairns Amateurs History
The Far North Queensland Amateur Turf Club was founded in 1959 as a coastal version of the historical Oak Park races and as a way of bringing city and country together. The brainchild of the Late Sir Sydney Williams OBE and Les Gallagher, the first Carnival was held on 18th & 19th September 1959.
At the time of the first Carnival, the Committee consisted of 10 people from the outback station properties and local businessmen who conducted 6 races on each day, “Sponsors” were not known as such at the time, but local businesses and regional branches of national companies either volunteered their services or were approached by the Committee to support the local Carnival. From the very start, the Carnival has been under Vice-Regal patronage, with then Governor Sir Henry Abel Smith beginning the tradition in 1959.
By the late 1960s, southern Australia had heard about the “little racing Carnival” up north and visitors from across the nation began to flood the far north, with numbers increasing each year as word spread. In the 1970s and particularly the 1980s, visitors from Australia and overseas flocked to the region and stayed either side of the Carnival. This trend continues to this day as many use the Carnival as an excuse to sample the sights of Tropical North Queensland.
Southern Race callers such as Keith Noud were present in the formative years, with local Dick Chant and more recently, Wayne Wilson in attendance as racing commentators. Prominent race presenter and identity, Bart Sinclair has attended to official duties as the racing correspondent since 1991 and has written pieces on the Amateurs for The Courier Mail and other publications each year.
Cairns Amateurs Mission Statement: