Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Sydney Harbour, NSW © Hamilton Lund, Destination New South Wales

Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Sydney Harbour, NSW © Ethan Rohloff, Destination NSW

Get among the starters

Sydney Harbour becomes an animated scene of colour and activity as race yachts and spectator craft fill the harbour for the Boxing Day start. A number of harbour cruises can get you close to the action, including the Sydney Sundancer, which positions itself right beside the start line as the gun fires. Another popular way to watch the start is from the public Manly ferry as it crosses the harbour.

Doyles on the Beach, Watsons Bay, Sydney, NSW © Andrew Gregory, Destination NSW

Watch with a picnic

Spectators line Sydney's shores as the yachts race through the harbour to the ocean entrance at the Sydney Heads. Make the most of the occasion by taking a picnic to one of the city's many popular vantage points. Roll out your blanket at Bradleys Head Amphitheatre, or on the grassy shores of Watsons Bay. For a view with a ready-made picnic, book lunch at Doyles on the Beach in Watsons Bay, where the seafood is as lovely as the harbour scenes.

Three Capes Track - Cape Pillar and the Blade, TAS © Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service

Sail the final leg

As the race yachts sail across Storm Bay for the approach into Hobart, the city's southern beaches begin to fill with people welcoming the boats (especially Long Beach in Sandy Bay and Taroona Beach). The best view however, will come on a three-day dedicated Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race trip with Hobart Yachts. Sailing on the Helsal IV, a former race competitor, you'll journey from Hobart to the base of Australia's highest sea cliffs at Cape Pillar - a memorably picturesque journey usually accompanied by sightings of dolphins, whales and a fascinating array of bird life - before sailing back into Hobart at the same time some of the yachts are racing back. Cape Pillar to Hobart is the final leg of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, so it's a particularly exciting part of the journey to accompany the racing yachts on their way.

New Years Eve fireworks in Hobart, TAS © Alastair Bett

Savour the taste of Tasmania

Hobart's major summer festival coincides with the arrival of the race yachts into the city. The Taste of Tasmania is held around the Princes Wharf No.1 shed on Hobart's docks, almost in sight of the yachts. Stalls showcase Tasmania's wonderful produce, food, wine and beer. Nightly open-air movies screen in the Parliament House Gardens across the road, and the high point of the festival is a New Year's Eve party looking out onto Hobart's fireworks. Entry to all but the New Year's Eve party is free.

Boxing Day Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground, VIC © Cricket Australia

Catch a match

In Australia, Boxing Day is synonymous with major sporting events. Once the yachts leave Sydney Harbour, head to a pub to watch the Boxing Day Cricket Test on television. This multi-day cricket match is another of the country's biggest sporting contests, and though it takes place in Melbourne, television viewers tune in nationally to watch the game take place.

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race highlights