One thing Australians are passionate about is sport, whether it’s football, rugby, soccer, horse racing, car racing or even camel racing.
While many Aussies love to play sport, even more enjoy watching and supporting from the sidelines and Australians are known for their love of big sporting events such as the Australian Open tennis tournament, the Melbourne Cup horse race, and the AFL & NRL footy Grand Finals.
On your road trip around Australia you’ll have the opportunity to attend some of Australia’s best sporting events if you can weave them into your itinerary.
So I’ve put together a list of 6 of Australia’s biggest & best sporting events so you can see when and where they are and maybe you’ll be able to experience one or more of them in person.
Let’s kick it off in January with the Australian Open Tennis.
The Australian Open Tennis
Where: Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Victoria
When: January 15th - 28th 2024
January is the height of summer in Australia and there is a fair chance you’ll find yourself in the southern states during summer as it is the wet season up north and very hot and humid.
If you want to find out more about planning your trip around Australia to coincide with the best weather, read this article.
For tennis fans this works out well because the Australian Open is one of the world's biggest tennis tournaments and a two week long festival of all things tennis in the heart of Melbourne.
The Australian Open is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events held each year, followed by the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
The Golden Slipper Stakes
Where: Rose Hill Racecourse, Sydney, New South Wales
When: March 18th 2023
While the Melbourne Cup held in Melbourne on the first Tuesday of every November is Australia’s most well known horse racing event, the Golden Slipper in Sydney is also one of the top events on the calendar.
The Golden Slipper is one of the four major Australian horse racing events alongside the Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and of course the Melbourne Cup.
The Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) was first run in 1957 with prize money of 20,000 pounds and today is the richest two-year-old race in the world with $5,000,000 up for grabs.
March is a great time of the year to be in Sydney so if you love horse racing then add the Golden Slipper Stakes to your trip itinerary.
If you like to have a punt on the races then check out the best betting sites Australia has to offer.
Formula 1 Grand Prix
Where: Albert Park, Melbourne, Victoria
When: March 30th to April 2nd 2023
The 2023 Formula 1 Grand Prix season kicks off with the first race held at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Victoria.
And in great news for F1 fans, the contract to keep the race in Melbourne has been confirmed locking it in until at least 2035.
Just a couple of kilometres from the city centre, the Albert Park Circuit is one of the most beautiful of all F1 tracks and Melbourne comes alive to the roar of the mighty F1 cars as they scream around the 5.3 kilometre circuit.
While there are plenty of excellent grand stand seats to choose from, a general admission ticket is also a great way to experience the race with excellent views around the track and plenty to do and see trackside.
Uluru Camel Cup
Where: Ayers Rock Resort, Yulara, Northern Territory
When: May 27th to 28th 2023
While not quite on the scale of the big ticket events on this list so far, the Uluru Camel Cup will definitely be a great weekend for those of us who love a more casual and fun outback experience.
You might be surprised to learn that Australia has hundreds of thousands of wild camels roaming around the outback. They are the descendants of those originally brought to Australia from the middle east in the 1800’s to cart freight across the outback before the construction of railways like The Ghan.
Though not native to Australia, and often considered a destructive pest, camels are perfectly adapted to the harsh conditions and have become a regular feature of the landscape.
As you travel the outback you’ll find many business’s offering camel rides and safaris using ‘domesticated’ camels like the sunset tours along Cable Beach in Broome, Western Australia and also at Ayers Rock Resort in the Northern Territory.
Held each year on the last weekend in May, the Uluru Camel Cup is both a great fun weekend and also a demonstration of how difficult and temperamental camels can be.
Riding a camel is not easy at the best of times and trying to get them to race each other is even harder, so you can imagine the chaos that ensues.
If you’re planning to be around the Red Centre in May then add the Uluru Camel Cup to your itinerary.
Also, make sure you book your accommodation or campsite at Ayers Rock Resort in advance so you don’t miss out.
Finke Desert Race
Where: Alice Springs to Finke, Northern Territory
When: June 9th to 12th 2023
The Finke Desert Race will appeal to lovers of the outback who also appreciate watching vehicles travel at impossible speeds over the worst possible terrain.
There are 3 categories of entry, motorbikes, cars and buggies and the race has the reputation of being one of the most challenging courses in the world.
Starting in Alice Springs on the Saturday, competitors ride or drive flat out almost due south for 225 km following the Old Ghan Railway line track until they reach the small outback town of Finke.
They then get the night to repair any damage to bike and vehicles before turning around and racing back to Alice Springs again the next day.
Spectators can camp along the side of the track and it would be worth arriving a day or two early and being completely self sufficient to get yourself a good spot.
Hamilton Island Race Week
Where: Hamilton Island, Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
When: August 19th to 26th, 2023
Our last but by no means least awesome event on our list is Hamilton Island Race Week held in August each year in the spectacular Whitsunday Islands off the Queensland coast.
Known for their crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, and stunning coral reefs, The Whitsunday Islands are a cluster of 74 tropical islands that are a magnet for lovers of the sun, sand, warm water, snorkelling, diving and of course sailing.
Hamilton Island is the heart of the Whitsundays with an airport, several resorts, shops and restaurants and a marina that accommodates some of the most beautiful boats to ply Australian waters.
Yachties and spectators make their way to Hamilton Island each year to either watch or participate in both on and offshore events in Australia’s largest offshore keelboat regatta.
For spectators the week will be one to remember with a non stop party atmosphere, plenty of food and drinks, fashion, golfing, wine tastings
and general fun (and probably a little mayhem as well!).
There is plenty of accommodation on Hamilton Island but I’d be booking early if you’re planning to go and also deciding how you’ll get there.
You can fly in directly from numerous airports around Australia but if you’re road tripping then you’ll probably want to leave your rig at either Mackay or Airlie Beach and catch a ferry.