It’s easy to go sports mad in Australia, which hosts events for cricket fans, footy fiends, rugby lovers, rev-heads and marathon runners. Get a courtside view of the tennis greats at the Australian Open or experience the excitement of the uniquely Australian AFL. See Australia’s Wallabies fight New Zealand’s All Blacks for the Bledisloe Cup. Or be there for the Ashes, when the Australia cricket team faces their age-old cricket rivals of England. Smell the rubber at glamorous motor-racing events such as the Grand Prix. Run through Sydney in the City to Surf or watch the world’s fastest cyclists whizz through Adelaide and South Australia in the Tour Down Under.
Adelaide and regional South Australia
Some of the world’s best professional cyclists compete in the Tour Down Under every January. It’s the first event of the year in the globe-trotting Union Cycliste Internationale's (UCI) ProTour, with six days of cycling and entertainment across Adelaide and South Australia. Catch the cyclists racing through the Adelaide Hills or along the picturesque country lanes of the Barossa Valley or Fleurieu Peninsula. Thousands of spectators turn out for the final race through the streets of Adelaide. Visit the Tour Village and Bike Expo and rub shoulders with the riders and teams as they compete for the coveted leader’s jersey.
The world’s greatest tennis players come to Melbourne Park in January for the Australian Open, the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific and the first Grand Slam title of the tennis season. While the international stars of tennis battle it out for the coveted trophy on the court, festivities continue around the clock. There are night-time music concerts and continuous live entertainment on and off the court. The Australian Open is a sporting event that blends the fun and enjoyment of tennis with social and cultural activities that celebrate Australia's love of the great outdoors.
Australian Open of Surfing
Sydney, New South Wales
The Australian Open of Surfing festival combines world-class athletes, artists and fans in a celebration of youth-culture, innovation and athleticism at Sydney’s Manly Beach - the birthplace of modern surfing. The free event runs for nine days and attracts more than 125,000 spectators to celebrate the best of Australian action sports, music, art and fashion. The Australian Open of Surfing is an extension of the US Open of Surfing and includes Association of Surfing Professionals sanctioned skateboarding, pro and junior surfing tournaments. Along with the world’s elite surfers and skateboarders, there is a music line-up featuring top international headline acts.
Join the crowds for four days of breathtaking action as the world's fastest drivers and cars light up Melbourne and the Albert Park circuit at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in March. The Australian Grand Prix is the opening race of the Formula 1 season. The off-track action is just as exciting with demonstrations, exhibition zones and aerial displays by the Royal Australian Air Force. The roar from the stands matches the roar from the cars as the drivers race past at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour. The event culminates in the post-race entertainment grand finale.
Brisbane, Queensland & Sydney, New South Wales
May - July
The National Rugby League (NRL) is the top league of professional rugby league football clubs in Australasia. State of Origin refers to the Australian states or territories where the players originally come from and they play for that team. The main competition is contested by sixteen teams, fifteen of which are based in Australia and one in New Zealand. NRL matches are played throughout Australia and New Zealand from autumn until spring. The season culminates in the premiership-deciding game, the NRL Grand Final, traditionally one of Australia's most popular sporting events and one of the largest attended club championship events in the world. The NRL premiers also play in the World Club Challenge, a pre-season match against the champions of the European Super League competition.
Gold Coast, Queensland
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is a huge two-day event, which draws thousands of international visitors and almost 25,000 competitors to Queensland’s Gold Coast each July. Join the cheering crowds along the course, which winds along the Broadwater foreshore between Southport Broadwater Parklands and Burleigh Heads. It is known as Australia’s fastest, flattest course, ideal for marathon runners of all levels. A music and entertainment program adds to the festivities. Families, fun-runners, wheelchair competitors and Olympians are all welcome at this event, which also has a half-marathon and 10 kilometre course.
The Bledisloe Cup sees Australia’s Wallabies team compete with rugby rivals the New Zealand All Blacks over three dramatic matches. Australia and New Zealand now meet at least three times a year on a home-and-away basis. A Bledisloe match is held in Australia at least once a year as part of the Tri Nations tournament. The passion and intensity on the field is matched only by the fans who attend the game to cheer their team on and watch them take their place in Rugby history. Catch one of the history-making matches in Australian stadiums in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Sydney, New South Wales
Sydney’s 14 kilometre City to Surf race is the world’s largest timed running event, attracting more than 75,000 entrants. The route winds from Hyde Park in the Sydney CBD to iconic Bondi Beach through Sydney’s most-exclusive suburbs, before finishing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Join the cheering crowds on the pavements and in cafes and pubs all along the way. The event is also among the world’s biggest fundraising events, raising around four million dollars for charity. The great outdoors, stunning city scenery and a sense of community spirit epitomise the City2Surf fun run in Sydney.
National; Melbourne, Victoria
From March to September Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams fight it out to make the top eight and qualify for the final series held in Melbourne in September. AFL is Australia’s most attended sporting league, with passionately-supported teams in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Close to 95,000 fans pack the stands of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for the grand final while millions watch it worldwide on television. There’s nothing like being there for the final series. The entire city takes on a carnival atmosphere as excited fans cheer their teams to victory. It is a truly unique Australian experience.
Gold Coast, Queensland
The Gold Coast 600 is a V8 racing car carnival held in Surfers Paradise over three days in October. The beaches of the Gold Coast are the perfect backdrop for this event, where the social program is an equally important part of the action. Watch the world’s top V8 Supercars whizz around the beachside track or catch an exciting endurance race with18 top international drivers. In the evening, the dedicated entertainment precinct at Broadwater Parklands comes alive. The huge trackside music concerts feature both Australian and international performers. Past events have included performances by world-famous pop stars such as Pink.
Perth, Western Australia
The Perth International Golf Championship brings some of the world’s best golf players to Western Australia to compete for Australian golf’s richest prize money at Lake Karrinyup Country Club. The course is regularly rated as one of the top ten golf courses in Australia, known for its challenging layout and bushland setting. The tournament is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour. The inaugural event will be played in October 2012. International golf stars Jason Dufner, currently ranked number nine in the world, and Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters Champion have been confirmed for the tournament.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival is the most vibrant horse racing event in the world. This festival of horse racing, fashion and fun starts in September and runs through until mid-November. Flemington Racecourse is the stage for big-name race days such as Derby Day, the Melbourne Cup and Oaks Day. The Melbourne Cup, held on the first Tuesday in November, is the focal point of the carnival and a public holiday in Victoria. Most of Australia stops to watch or listen to the race, but there's nothing like being there amongst the 100,000 plus crowd to experience this unique event.
Australia becomes obsessed with the sport of cricket throughout summer from November to February. Cricket-lovers across the world avidly follow the Australian season, which pits Australia against other top cricketing nations in matches in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth. Around the country, test matches and one-day tournaments unfold at iconic cricket grounds, from the MCG in Melbourne to the Sydney Cricket Ground, Perth’s WACA and Brisbane’s Gabba. Traditionally, Melbourne hosts the Boxing Day Test and Sydney hosts the New Year Test. Both begin on major public holidays and are enthusiastically attended by cricket-loving Australians.
Sydney, New South Wales; Hobart, Tasmania
Beginning on Boxing Day [26 December] each year, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race is an Australian summertime tradition. Maxi yachts to weekend racers take part in this event, which starts from Nielsen Park in Sydney Harbour and takes the international fleet more than 1100 kilometres to the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania. The race finishes just in time for the New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city. You don’t need to be a sailor to enjoy watching the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. The start of the colourful spectacle can be seen from many vantage points around Sydney Harbour.
Cricket is one of Australia’s best loved sporting pastimes, and the top of cricket contests is the Ashes – a fiercely contested Test cricket series played between Australia and England. The Ashes is held in Australia every two years, as the series alternates between the UK and Australia. The next Ashes Test Series in Australia will take place in 2013. The friendly rivalry between the two countries is celebrated via a cricketing tradition that began in the 19th century.
Australia is home to a stunning array of golf courses and the round of PGA Australian golf tournaments are not to be missed. The following are some of Australia’s major golfing events, played across the country on world class golf courses in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Sunshine coast. Australia’s golf courses are some of the best-designed and most challenging in the world. They are often located in scenic Australian bush settings surrounded by wildlife. In a country that has produced such golfing greats as Greg Norman and Ian Baker-Finch, Australia’s passion for the game keeps on growing.
In Australia you can indulge your passion for motor racing all year round. Head to Melbourne for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in March or visit the popular motorcycle circuit on Phillip Island. For adrenalin-surging V8 action, there’s the Gold Coast 600 in Surfers Paradise, the Sydney 500 and the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide. Watch elite sports cars race around Tasmania in the Targa Tasmania or witness true driving endurance at the Bathurst 1000. Follow quad bikes, 4WDs and motorbikes from Perth to Kalgoorlie in the Australasian Safari. Or check out mean street machines at Canberra’s Summernats Car Festival.