Drop in on Melbourne at any time of the year, and you will find the city is hosting a world-class sports event. You can bet on it!
At 3pm on the first Tuesday in November every year, Australia stops for a horse race. The Melbourne Cup is a sports phenomenon, and the world’s premiere handicap horse race. With $6 million in prize money, stayers across the world vie for an entry in the 3200m race. More than 100,000 visitors pack Flemington race course on Cup day, the highlight of the month-long Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, which includes Melbourne’s Caulfield (Caulfield Cup) and Moonee Valley (Cox Plate) race courses. Whether you are a racing fan, a fashions fan, or just a fan of having a good time, the Melbourne Cup is a winner.
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Formula 1 Grand Prix
Many of us feel pretty good if we can complete a jogging lap of Melbourne’s picturesque Albert Park Lake in around 30 minutes. But come April, the F1 cars are zipping around the joint in a tad over 1 minute and 24 seconds, as Albert Park is temporarily transformed into a world-class racing circuit. The world’s fastest drivers in the world’s fastest cars contest the opening round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Aerial displays by the RAAF’s Roulettes and low-level flyovers by an F/A-18 fighter jet help fuel the excitement of the four-day event … and set off the occasional car alarm too!
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MotoGP World Championship
Melbourne is base in October for bike fans from everywhere when two-wheel warriors tear around the nearby panoramic Phillip Island race circuit at 350kmh in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, part of the World Championship. As well, Phillip Island hosts the larger Superbike World Championship, and is home to holiday houses, penguins, seals, and year-round surfers. Oh, and the odd Great White Shark!
The chequered finishing flag has barely been waved before the motorsport action resumes in Melbourne, with Phillip Island and Sandown Raceway hosting V8 Supercar races. Part of an international touring car series, the cars are designed to be similar to those driven on the road … but without the worry of speed cameras! These guys thunder around the track at up to 300kmh.
Australian Tennis Open
Melbourne gets slammed every January, as the world of tennis converges on Melbourne Park for the Australian Open. Part of the Grand Slams with Wimbledon, the US Open, and French Open, the Australian Open matches are played on three main arenas – each with a retractable roof – and a series of circuit courts. Crowd figures rival those of the US Open, and accommodation is often booked out across the city and extra tram services are scheduled.
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Some of the world’s best golfers tee off in Professional Golfers Association and Ladies Professional Golf Association tournaments on courses across Melbourne, including Huntingdale and Kingston Heath. The Australian Masters title also rotates between Melbourne golf courses.
Boxing Day Test Cricket
The Melbourne Cricket Ground, known as the MCG or simply the ”G”, is one of the world’s great sporting arenas. It hosts cricket fans’ holiest of holy days, the Boxing Day Test match, which only grows in popularity each year in line with Melbourne’s burgeoning population of backpackers from cricket playing nations. Ingrained in Australia’s Christmas-New Year festive season, the Boxing Day match is the highlight of the summer Test series between Australia and a touring team. Every four years, the Boxing Day Test is part of the Ashes series against England, which is a huge hit with the backpackers … we all seem to want to beat the Poms!
Boxing Day at the Melbourne cricket test match was good ☀️? pic.twitter.com/AOTHmt9RhH
— Samuel Tucker (@11Samtucker) December 26, 2014
Footy Grand Final
Cricket is only half of the MCG’s sports season. Winter months bring Australian Rules football to the “G”, as well as Melbourne’s undercover Docklands Stadium, and in nearby Geelong. Run by the Australian Football League, clubs are also in Western Australia, NSW, Queensland and South Australia, with the Grand Final held at the MCG. A League soccer and Australian Rugby League games are held just a punt kick away, in AAMI Park.
For outdoors action, you can’t top the gruelling Ironman Triathlon event. Part of the Ironman World Championships, Melbourne shares the Ironman events with Queensland, NSW and Western Australia. It is a 3.86km swim, followed by a 180.25km bicycle ride and finishing with a 42.2 km run. And then the stamina really kicks in, for the after-race drinks in St Kilda’s bars…
So, sports fans, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Melbourne if you are looking for world-class sports action, any time of the year.
(Featured image: Chris Phutully)