My memories: The Queen's visit and beyond
27 April 2018
" As a 6-year-old in 1954, a neighbour drove my family and I to Parramatta Park. We stood by the railway line and watched a train go by. Standing outdoors at the back of the rear carriage were Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Their coronation tour of Australia. My first memory of Parra Park.
Subsequently I was again in the Park for the start of the Redex Trial, a motor car ‘race’ around the country that featured “Gelignite” Jack Murray.
In the early 60’s I was at school at Parramatta High. We played a lot of our sport in the old Cattle Paddock. I scored the odd try playing Rugby Union there.
By the late 60’s a mate and I owned and trained a greyhound named 'Capitulate'. We would often walk her in the Park and occasionally give her a run there across the paddock as part of her training. I recall one day my mate walked about 100 metres away while I held Capitulate. He then gave her a whistle and I let her go. She charged across the lawn, heading directly to my mate. It looked like she was going to crash into him. At the last moment he stepped aside to avoid being hit. But exactly at the same time, our greyhound also stepped aside; unfortunately, in the same direction as my mate. Crash! She flew straight into him. I ran over with both lying on the ground. Fortunately, neither was hurt. I was particularly concerned for Capitulate, given she had a race coming up shortly.
These days I stroll regularly in Parra Park. And I have always been interested in the plaque on the north-eastern side of Parra River that highlights the location of the old 19th century Parramatta Racecourse. I referred to this plaque in a book I published, Nags to Riches – Tales of the Punt where I recalled an incident at a race meeting there in 1832 when 40 women from the female factory escaped to the racecourse where punters treated them to brandy and ginger beer, before they were recaptured. Obviously, those punters were hoping for a different kind of win!"
- Keith Ray