Call for Cup legend to be honoured in Egans Lane redevelopment plans

LONG-TIME Nowra businessman Peter Walsh has put forward his thoughts about what should be developed in the Egans Lane area in Nowra, saying part of it should be used to honour the area’s strong connection with the Melbourne Cup.

Shoalhaven City Council this week launched a precinct concept and ‘Have Your Say’ website for the Egans Lane project to gauge public feedback on what the community would like to see happen with the site.

A number of options such as a shopping centre, possibly including a major retailer, as well as additional car parking and a village centre have already been put forward.

At 91 Mr Walsh still has a strong interest in what happens in the town and believed part of the area should be developed as a village centre and pay tribute to champion local trainer Etienne de Mestre and his success in winning five Melbourne Cups.

“Lots of places have big things that attract people to their towns, Big Bananas, Big Prawns – Gundagai has the Dog on the Tucker Box,” he said.

“Apparently that alone attracts around 75,000 visitors a year and we could do a similar thing here in Nowra but honour de Mestre and his Cup efforts.”

De Mestre scored five Melbourne Cup wins, the first two with Archer (1861-62), Tim Whiffler (1867), Chester (1877) and Calamia (1878).

His five wins in the first 18 years of the Cup’s history was a record for the most wins by a trainer that stood for almost 100 years.

His record wasn’t broken until 1977, by now Cup master Bart Cummings, who has 12 victories to his credit.

“I believe we could honour de Mestre’s achievements,” Mr Walsh said.

“His home still stands in Terara; there is a lot of local history that could be included.

“A model of such a statue has already been developed by artist and sculptor Dennis Adams, which depicts Mrs de Mestre feeding Archer.

“And the whole area could be called de Mestre Place.

“But we also have to have things on that will attract people to the town,” he said.

“Look at Berry, that town always has something going on and people go to see it.”

The statue of Mrs de Mestre feeding Archer is currently housed at the Worrigee House Reception Centre, with owner Merv Bennett saying the family purchased the sculpture from the Chamber of Commerce many years ago.

“There were moves, probably 20 odd years ago to establish a life-sized statue in Marriott Park and more recently there were suggestions of something being placed around the Graham Lodge precinct near where the navy helicopter is situated,” he said.

The statue and the 1988 Dennis Adams’ painting on which it is based take pride of place in the Elizabeth Room in the reception centre.

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