MV Blog


Farewell to Phar Lap's skeleton

by Kate C
Publish date
25 January 2011
Comments (2)

The Melbourne Gallery was filled with beautiful harmonies this morning as a group of Maori performers sang and danced to farewell Phar Lap's skeleton, which will return to New Zealand next week.

Maori performance group Te Waka Raukura Maori performance group Te Waka Raukura sing and dance in front of the Phar Lap Reunion display.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

Performers from Te Waka Raukura. Performers from Te Waka Raukura.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

A performer from Te Waka Raukura. A performer from Te Waka Raukura.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

On loan from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the skeleton has been on display next to Phar Lap's hide since September 2010 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup.

Today's performers, Te Waka Raukura, provided a wonderful send-off for the skeleton. It has been an honour for us to have the skeleton and send thanks to all who made this reunion possible. The Phar Lap Reunion display can be seen until Sunday 30 January.

Maori performance Media and museum visitors gathered to enjoy the music and dancing.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria


MV News: Phar Lap reunion

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

MV Blog: The crates have arrived!

A song for Phar Lap

by Nicole D
Publish date
23 November 2010
Comments (6)

At Discovery Centres we don't just receive enquiries that seek information from the museum. We also have intriguing information passed onto us by members of the public that helps with our research and further fills out the background stories surrounding our collections.

This is one such gem, a poem about Phar Lap entitled Phar Lap comes home, which we received from a lovely lady in Bendigo whose brother sent it to her over 50 years ago. She was hoping it would be of interest to us and that we might be able to use it:

Where the thoroughbred immortals
Graze in pastures evergreen,
And the steeds of song and story
Feel the touch of hands unseen.
There’s a whining [whinny] in the distance
and a pawing at the gate
As the big stout hearted Phar Lap
Joins the legion of the great.

Where the horses famed are ranging
Over acres rich and fine
And the coats of turfdom’s monarchs
In the brilliant sunlight shine
There’s a snorting in the shadows
And a pricking up of ears
Another racing stalwart
On the borderline appears.

In the thoroughbred Valhalla
Where the bravest hearted go
And there aren’t any seasons
When the blue grass doesn’t grow
Where’s there no fierce grind of training
And no further stakes to win
There’s a stirring in the paddock
As another canters in.

In the paradise of horse flesh
Where the gamest of the game
Frolic through an endless summer
Done with glory and with fame
Where no barriers spring upwards
And no turmoil fills the air
Carbine, Redleap and Brovo
Turn and see the “Red Flash” there.

Up beyond the eyes of mortals
Where there is no muddy track
Where there are no gruelling stretch runs
And no added weight to pack
Where the kings of far flung ovals
Play and scamper as they will
There’s a neighing as the great hearted
Phar Lap gallops on the hill.

Where there are no culls or “cast offs”
And no spineless “also rans”
Where the horses have a record
Treasured by the racing fans
There’s a pawing and a neighing
Where the lion hearted roam
And a whining [whinnying] of welcome
Phar Lap “big Red” has come home.

'The Record Breaker, Phar Lap, Greatest of all Race Horses', New Century Press, 1932, by Jack Spinty
'The Record Breaker, Phar Lap, Greatest of all Race Horses', New Century Press, 1932, by Jack Spinty
Source: Museum Victoria

Many poems were written about Big Red after his death, including a number in the Museum Victoria Phar Lap Collection. But a quick internet search revealed only a couple examples of this particular poem online, which have slightly different details. One person commented on the Cyberhorse Forum that it was published in the New York Sun after Phar Lap's death but, even after searching historic Australian newspapers online via Trove, I still didn't come up with any further information. As more resources are digitised we might find out more about this and perhaps even who wrote it. Can anyone out there shed any further light on the poem?

The crates have arrived!

by Kate C
Publish date
14 September 2010
Comments (0)

In April the Racing Minister Rob Hulls put out a call to reunite Phar Lap's heart, skeleton and hide to mark the 150th anniversary of anniversary of the Melbourne Cup. His heart, which lives in Canberra at the National Museum, is too fragile to travel. However his skeleton, usually on display at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, was sturdy enough to make the trip.

Now, after months of planning and packing, it's here! It arrived late last night in two custom-built crates.

Phar Lap's skeleton in the lift Phar Lap's skeleton being escorted up from the loading dock at Melbourne Museum.
Image: Karen Jakubec
Source: Museum Victoria

Of course, we can't be sure it's in there until the crates are opened tomorrow by AQIS, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. Until then the crates will sit quietly in the collection store. We can't wait to see his skeleton and hide displayed side by side on Thursday.

Phar Lap skeleton in crates The crates containing Phar Lap's skeleton awaiting quarantine inspection.
Image: Karen Jakubec
Source: Museum Victoria

If you want to know more about the skeleton, have a look at Te Papa's wonderful video about its preparation for travel:


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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.