Since first running in 1861, the Melbourne Cup has been associated with the arrival of spring and a carnival atmosphere: fashion, glamour and garden parties. It's also one of the richest handicap races in the world, with a winning pool of $6 million in 2010.

At Flemington, the Cup cuts across social strata and unites a massive crowd: the fashion forward on the lawns, colourful characters picnicking in the carpark, and business types hobnobbing in corporate marquees, all loosening up as the champagne flows.

In 2010 the Cup celebrates 150 years. This image gallery, featuring pictures from the State Library of Victoria's rich and eclectic collection, provides a snapshot of what makes our favourite race so special, from frivolity in the carpark to the serious business of winning.

State Library of Victoria State Government of Victoria – link to government home