‘We’re here to celebrate’: Melburnians shake off lockdown to party for Cup

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From the cafes of Degraves Street to the promenade at Southbank, Melburnians recently released from coronavirus lockdown have flocked to the CBD to celebrate the Melbourne Cup.

At Southbank, friends Tom McFadyn, Kellie Nelson, Stephanie Xidan, Ross Joreo, Lara Xukowski and Steph Milh were lucky enough to secure a booking with a boat hire company to spend the morning cruising along the Yarra River for a few hours before the race.

GoBoat has been fully booked all week as Melburnians take advantage of the sun and relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.Credit:Eddie Jim

"We're here to celebrate the end of the lockdown," Ms Nelson said.

The group met through the F45 gym in Richmond. The company, GoBoat, has been fully booked all week as people begin to enjoy the spring weather and the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

Just before midday, bike riders and joggers started to make way for Melburnians dressed in their finest outfits as high-end restaurants prepared to open for lunch along the promenade.

Restaurants and bars are using the most of their outdoor space, setting up dozens of tables under the shade of the plane trees.

Vanessa Cox, Katie Tunnah, Julia Byron and Alyce Jolly snared a coveted spot at Southbank.Credit:Eddie Jim

Under current restrictions in Melbourne, venues can have a maximum of 50 people outdoors and 20 indoors.

Cathy Bryson and friend John Pemberton snapped up a lunch booking for Cup Day the moment they saw it online – and it was a good thing they did.

Most venues along Southbank promenade were at capacity by midday, with punters being turned away if they didn't have a booking.

Ms Bryson and Mr Pemberton were seated in the shade, sipping on a glass of GH Mumm at the champagne giant’s pop-up restaurant and bar next to the Yarra River.

Ms Bryson moved to Melbourne from Canberra in April, and within months the city was plunged into lockdown.

"This is my first Melbourne Cup in Melbourne," she said. "I moved at beginning of April and here I am. Finally, I get to go out.

Mr Pemberton said it was "brilliant day" to be outdoors after a few tough months.

"When the announcement [about the relaxation of restrictions] came, it was like 'yes' – not that you race out and do everything, but you know you can."

John Pemberton and Cathy Bryson enjoy a drink at Southbank on Tuesday.Credit:Eddie Jim

Melbourne work friends Vanessa Cox, Katie Tunnah, Julia Byron and Alyce Jolly were also at the GH Mumm venue.

It's been a "bloody horrible" few months, said Ms Byron, but it was great to be out again.

They hadn't placed any bets on the race – "I don't like losing", joked Ms Tunnah – but were planning on watching the race from their riverside spot before seeing where the afternoon took them.

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