Pigeon Racing, a traditional working-class sport, saw its first race in Tasmania in 1874. Seven pigeons were liberated at Bridgewater and arrived 'home' in Hobart half an hour later, amid intense excitement. More clubs were formed, and in 1896 a race from Launceston to Hobart was held. Pigeon racing was banned during the First World War as a security risk, but was popular afterwards, with fanciers having pairs of birds delivered by train, and the local stationmaster releasing them at the appointed time.
Pigeon racing reached a peak of popularity in the 1960s with many mob liberations of birds, but then interest declined, partly as rail services closed, partly, according to fanciers, because peregrine falcons, which were protected, attacked pigeons. The sport still has a small following.
Further reading: D Young, Sporting Island, Hobart, 2005.
Alison Alexander and David Young