Australia’s love of sport and national pride is ingrained in the very fabric of Australian culture. Many stories of Australian folklore involve tales of sporting legends and events that have shaped the minds of Australians everywhere. From the Australian Open to the AFL Grand Final, the ‘race that stops a nation’ and the Boxing Day Test. Australia has some of the best sporting events in the world.
In the heart of the Australian summer and the first grand slam on the tennis calendar, the Australian Open kicks off the new year in style as it hosts some of the greatest tennis stars in the world at the iconic Melbourne Park. First held way back in 1905 the Australian Open is hosted annually and stretches across 2 full weeks of hard-fought tennis, featuring men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles; wheelchair tennis, junior championships; exhibition and legends events. Over the last 10 years, the event has contributed over $2.7 billion to the Victorian economy, solidifying the Open as one of Australia’s top sporting events.
When: End of March
Fresh from the silly season, like with many sports, Australia is the first cab off the rank in the Formula 1 season. Typically held near the end of March, The Australian Grand Prix is fully loaded with fast cars, champion drivers and high-octane racing, enough to fuel the excitement of any petrolhead. Hosted at Melbourne’s Albert Park, spectators are privy to a 4-day racing extravaganza as they watch the great unknown of the new season unfold before their very eyes.
Where: Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
When: The last Saturday in September
While cricket may be Australia’s national sport, AFL is certainly Australia’s most popular. The AFL Grand Final is one of, if not the biggest sporting event on the Australian sporting calendar, as the MCG plays host to over 100,000 die-hard screaming fans on the last Saturday in September. Fans line the stands, pubs, and their television sets to watch the two best teams of the AFL season battle it out for the prestigious premiership cup in the final of ‘the Big Dance’. The festivities run for the entire week in the lead-up to the ultimate decider, with Grand Final Eve now recognised as a public holiday for all Victorians as the festival of footy celebrations engulfs the sporting capital. The 2021 AFL grand Final attracted a national average audience of 4.11 million people, the highest watched program in Australia that year.
When: First Tuesday of November
Melbourne Cup Day is the pinnacle of the Australian racing calendar and the headline act of the Melbourne Cup Carnival. It stands alone as Australia’s most famous annual horse racing event and one of the richest turf races in the world. Branded the ‘race that stops a nation’, the Melbourne Cup is brimming with fancy food, fashion, and entertainment, creating an electric atmosphere across the country even for people that don’t normally gamble. Enthusiasts flock to Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse for a fun-filled day of champagne, colour, and comradery, with this historic event now a staple of Australian culture and an official public holiday in Victoria.
When: 26th Dec – 30th December
A long-standing tradition for the Australian Men’s Cricket Team is to play the current touring national team in a 5-day gruelling test series starting on Boxing Day. First held back in 1950 against arch-rivals England, young Aussie cricketers dream of taking centre stage in the biggest game on the Australian Test Cricket calendar. Fans flock in their thousands to get a glimpse of their champions battling it out at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in the most prestigious game of the year. Some of the most historic Ashes series ever played between Australia and England have taken place on Boxing Day as fans erupt in the stands in support of their heroes after every ball is bowled.
Where: Sydney, Hobart
When: Boxing Day
Since its inception on Boxing Day 1945, a flotilla of world-class yacht teams has braved the weather gods in the fight for top honours as the first boat to cross the line in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. This highly punishing course is considered one of the toughest in the world and draws visitors far and wide to bear witness to this physically demanding 1,012-kilometre blue water challenge. Fans can watch the action unfold from one of Bondi to Manly’s walk viewpoints as the race begins, celebrate the first of the Yachts as they make the final climb in the run home to Hobart or cruise alongside some of the competitors for an up close and personal experience with Hobart Yachts.
Where: Margaret River WA, Bells Beach VIC, Gold Coast QLD
Australia stands as one of the premier surfing destinations across the entire globe. From March to May, sections of Australia’s coastline transform, dishing up some tantalising waves for competitors as spectators watch their heroes battle it out in a 3-part series event starting on the Gold Coast. With three events forecast on the Australian calendar – The Quicksilver Pro (Gold Coast), Rip Curl Pro (Bells Beach, VIC) and Margaret River Pro (WA), the World Surfing Championships provides plenty of opportunities to see the world’s best carve up the surf at some Australia’s most iconic beaches. Cowabunga, Dude!
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