Though there are countless reasons for people to visit Australia, one that’s become increasingly common is sports tourism. Australians are known for their love of sport, and accordingly, there are numerous world-class events that locals and visitors alike enjoy taking in.
Here are five of the best sports events hosted on Australian land:
1. The Australian Open
This tennis tournament, held every summer in January, takes place over a two-week span. It’s a huge event, the first of each year’s four “Grand Slam” tournaments – but the best of the bunch in many tennis fans’ estimation. The Aussie Open event draws more attendees than its three counterparts (the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open), and is affectionately known as the “Happy Slam.” You can enjoy the competition at Melbourne Park, where the grounds are always fun and festive and the competition – both in large stadiums and at smaller, outer courts – is guaranteed to feature the best players on Earth.
2. The Australian Grand Prix
This Formula 1 event that takes place in March each year, and is also among the biggest sporting events in Australia (even if it can’t quite match the lucrative prize purses of the Australian Open). It’s hosted at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, which is erected temporarily on public roads. And much like the Aussie Open, it has a massive international audience, which makes it feel that much more special. The betting markets online tend to be very active for the Grand Prix, which can add an extra element to the fun for those who are so inclined, and at the end of the day, the competition is almost as much of a festival as it is a race. Many will go early to take in the practice laps, hang out with other racegoers around the circuit, and ultimately place their bets, grab their seats, and watch the best drivers there are.
3. Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Christmas in Australia, where snow and pine trees give way to warm breezes and sailing, isn’t complete without this annual 630-mile yacht race. The competition begins on Boxing Day, and takes about a day and a half – the record finish time being slightly less than that. It’s a different sort of event in that no spectator can watch the whole thing, and it also has different prizes – the Tattersail Cup for the winner by handicap (according to yacht dimensions), and an unofficial honour for the first boat to cross the finish line in Hobart. But if you can catch a glimpse of the action and soak up the air of seasonal festivity that surrounds the event, you’re in for a great time. Keep in mind though that as much fun as this all is, it’s also viewed as one of the most rigorous and challenging yacht races in the world.
4. The Melbourne Cup
You can enjoy a much more compact, yet equally festive experience at this famous horse race. The Victoria Racing Club puts on the Melbourne Cup every year, for thoroughbreds 3 years and older. And over time the race has become so popular that it now constitutes a national holiday. The 24-horse race takes place on the first Tuesday of November each year, and like other major horse races around the world, it’s as much about socializing, fashion, food, and drink as it is about competition. It actually doesn’t hurt to think of it like the holiday it is, in the truest sense of the word.
5. The Ashes
The Ashes, for those who aren’t familiar, is a Test cricket series between England and Australia that has been held 70 times since the late 1800s. It’s not held every year and isn’t always in Australia, but when it is, it’s about the biggest sporting event in the country. The name comes from an urn that is jokingly said to hold the ashes of Australian cricket (or more literally those of a cricket bail). Said urn functions as a trophy passed between the two nations and held by the winner until that winner is dethroned. It’s essentially a friendly competition, but it inspires some excellent cricket, and needless to say, passionate fans of the sport in both countries get into it.