It is notoriously difficult to find accommodation for Warrnambool’s May Racing Carnival however there are a few tricks on how to find a room - firstly although many accommodation properties show they are fully booked, in many cases the bookings are tentative and quite a few providers simply block out the may race week up to 12 months in advance knowing they won’t have any trouble in getting bookings. Usually in January or February accommodation owners will look at their bookings for the May races and contact their regular clients and confirm their booking and this is when you are most likely to pick up vacancies. So contact properties directly during February and March and this will usually yield results
Minimum Stays - the other factor to consider is the minimum stays required for individual properties and in many cases owners insist on a minimum stays of 3 or 4 nights and while many visitors don’t need to stay 3 or 4 nights it is a sellers market and if you want to stay 3 nights there will be plenty of other willing to take the offer.
For visitors only requiring single night accommodation, the outlying towns of Port Fairy, Mortlake and Terang are only 30 minutes away and are a good alternative .
The Warrnambool Grand Annual Racing Carnival is one of the main events in Warrnambool's social and sporting calendar, with most of the cities accommodation being booked out months in advance. The carnival has been often called the "Melbourne Cup of the bush", because it manages to attract people who normally would not go to another race meeting for the rest of the year. It also combines a number of other racing events to n the words of one local identity "it attracts the needy, greedy and the seedy" and representatives from nearly every rung on the societies ladder, from the well dressed business leaders to students in outrageous clothing out for a lark, ."
A rusting sign attached to the grandstand at the Warrnambool's Racecourse’s documents Warrnambool’s association with Australia’s alternate national anthem.
Warrnambool’s connection with the song Waltzing Matilda would have gone unnoticed if it weren’t for the research carried out by local musician Dennis O’Keeffe. Sadly Dennis, (aged 57) passed away in February last year after a long battle with cancer, fortunately a book he had been working on for many years had been completed in 2012 and published that year.
The book tells the story of how in 1894, Christina MacPherson attended Warrnambool’s May Races, where she heard the local Garrison Artillery Band play The Craigielee March, and three months later, while visiting family at a cattle station called Dagworth (north of Winton, Queensland ), she played what she could remember of the tune to Banjo Paterson and he wrote the words to Waltzing Matilda.
The lyrics of Waltzing Matilda refer to the shearers strike of 1891 and the death of a local shearer who according to legend took his own life, but as the author suggests, may have been involved in foul play. For many years the township of Winton has laid claim to being the birthplace of Waltzing Matilda, however Warrnambool has in recent years has proclaimed its association with the Waltzing Matilda story. The added twist to the story is Christina MacPherson is the great niece of ex Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu