FASHION STATEMENT: The always classy Helen Pullen looks back on 50 years of attending the famed July Racing Carnival.
FASHION STATEMENT: The always classy Helen Pullen looks back on 50 years of attending the famed July Racing Carnival.

Queen of the track is all style

By SALLY GORDON

sally.gordon@dailyexaminer.com.au

SHE is beautiful. She is stylish. She is Helen Pullen ? Grafton's fashion doyen who yesterday celebrated her 50th July Racing Carnival.

Dressed in calf-high leather boots, a tailored black and cream skirt suit and felt hat, the Grafton identity yesterday was the epitome of trackside glamour.

No doubt Mrs Pullen was just as stylish back in 1956, when as a young woman fresh from the big smoke of Adelaide, she ventured to the track for her first Grafton racing experience.

"I wore a little cream Dutch bonnet, a tailored wool tweed dress that was a mulberry colour and matching stilettos that were so high," she said.

"That first racing carnival really sticks out for me ... the place was nothing like it is now and it was just a really lovely, typical race carnival.

"A real country affair where everybody knew everybody."

Mrs Pullen moved to the Clarence Valley from South Australia as a 20-year-old with her mother and father, Dorothy Dagg and Alexander Edward Leo MacLeod.

Mrs Pullen said that initially she wasn't too happy at having to relocate to a regional town.

But, little did she know the move north would start an enduring love affair with Grafton and its annual horse racing carnival.

From her usual post at the members' stand, Mrs Pullen said yesterday she'd love another 50 years to indulge her passion for fashion at the track.

"It can't possibly be 50 years, it's just absolutely flown," she said.

"I want another 50 years but I know I'm not going to get it."

A large part of the trackside thrill for Mrs Pullen is the fashion, which she claims has now turned full circle.



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