Forest Caves Beach, Phillip Island, Victoria
Watch the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in a spectacular venue just a short drive from Melbourne.
By Simon Webster
Published: 23 October, 2017
Countless motorbike fans around the world have it on top of their bucket lists: a trip to Phillip Island to see the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The island, off the Victorian coast, near Melbourne, is home to a celebrated and stunningly situated racetrack, on which the world’s best riders battle it out at 340kmh (211mph) in the race for the MotoGP World Championship.
As well as three days of race action and a packed schedule of events off track, the Grand Prix offers a great excuse to explore the island’s other attractions – from boutique wineries to pristine beaches to penguin parades. All easily accessible, whether you’re on two wheels or four.
A VIEW TO A THRILL
It’s hard to imagine a more spectacular location for a racetrack than Phillip Island. Right on the ocean’s edge, the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit offers views of Bass Strait that can be as dramatic as anything happening on the track.
This incredible setting is one of the reasons motorbike fans from around the world flock to Phillip Island for the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Another is the nature of the track itself.
“It tends to produce very exciting, free-flowing, overtaking racing,” says Andrew Westacott, chief executive officer of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation. “For anyone who likes to visit major sporting events in iconic locations, this is right up there. It’s like going to Pebble Beach to see the US Open golf.”
This year, Phillip Island hosted Round 16 of the 18-round MotoGP World Championship. About 90,000 fans were there to see the twists and turns in one of the most exciting world championships in years.
THE FASTEST THINGS ON TWO WHEELS
With just two rounds of the MotoGP World Championship to go, it couldn’t be much closer. Before this event, three-time world champion Marc Marquez, from Spain, was top of the standings with 244 points. But looming large in his wing mirror was Italian Andrea Dovizioso, on 233 points. With 25 points available for a win at Phillip Island, it was always going to be an exciting weekend. “The whole MotoGP World Championship is on the line,” says Westacott.
Each year, the race is screened live in 207 countries and territories around the world, but there’s nothing like witnessing the spectacle in the flesh. Tickets are available to watch numerous races in various categories, with action from 8am to 6pm every day from Friday to Sunday. This year’s event took place 20-22 October.
Fans can choose between a VIP hospitality package, a reserved seat in one of the six grandstands, or a general admission ticket, which allows you to wander around and soak up the big race atmosphere from lots of angles.
The Grand Prix is about much more than watching the big race. There’s so much happening off the track that motorbike enthusiasts don’t know which way to turn.
With kids 14 and under getting into the Grand Prix free, the whole weekend is a very family-friendly event. The BMX Stunt Show is a hit with younger fans, while motorbike fans young and old won’t want to miss the GP Expo, showcasing the latest bikes, motorbike clothing and accessories. There’s also Urban Alley (celebrating city bikes and street artists), autograph events where you can meet the star riders, and the popular Spokes Support Paddock Stage, where you can get close to mechanics as they’re preparing bikes for the big races.
Many fans travel to the Grand Prix on motorbikes in groups of families and friends (the island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and is just a two-hour drive from the centre of Melbourne). Others get there by car, or coach.
Many fans camp on-site to really immerse themselves in the Grand Prix atmosphere – alternatively, you could try campsites, holiday rentals, hotels and other accommodation elsewhere on Phillip Island. Or really do it in style: “Some people stay in the city, in one of Melbourne’s fine hotels, and get a helicopter down to the track each day,” says Westacott. Now that’s what we call making a dramatic entrance.
EXPLORE THE ISLAND
With incredible beaches and coastline, fascinating wildlife and fine food and wine, Phillip Island offers plenty to keep you busy when you’re not at the track.
This was the island’s busiest weekend of the year, and bars and restaurants will still be pumping. You can call in on the island’s boutique wineries and breweries, or make the most of the walks and bicycle tracks that take in the island’s rugged beauty.
But after motorsports, the island is probably best known for its wildlife. It’s home to everything from koalas to whales to seals, and there are lots of ways to see them up close.
Most famous of all is the Penguin Parade, where you get to witness the unforgettable sight of little penguins waddling ashore and back to their burrows at the end of a hard day’s fishing. They’re not quite as quick as the Grand Prix riders, but they’re just as determined.
There are more cute animals you can get close to near Melbourne, like this baby wombat at Healesville Sanctuary.
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