The Australian Grand Prix is the first race of the Formula 1 year. It moved to Melbourne in 1996, and today the course sees drivers complete the race around Albert Park. If you’re spending time in Melbourne, you’ll know when the Australian Grand Prix is coming up. Albert Park will be surrounded by barriers, and you can drive around the track.
During my time in Melbourne, I attended the race to find out what it was all about. I’ll divulge what I learnt from my attendance, so you’ll know what to expect if you decide to go to the Australian Grand Prix.
One of the great things about the Australian Grand Prix is that it’s right in the centre of Melbourne. That means it’s easy to get to, and there are a ton of places nearby where you can get food or drink after the event.
Added to the fact that Melbourne is still warm in March, and you have the city as a backdrop to the races. There are a few other special bits that happen during the day. More about those later.
There’s plenty to do at the Australian Grand Prix
When you get in at the Australian Grand Prix, you’re given earplugs. Though if you’re carrying your own you might prefer those. You’ll soon realise why you’ve got the earplugs. It can get loud. Very loud.
That’s because of all the different races happening on the day.
Inside the entrance is a host of tents and stalls. For me, that included some special showings from the characters of Cars. Not quite what you would expect, but a welcome sight. It proved a hit for the families attending with their children.
There are also plenty of actual cars on show. From old school vintage formula 1 cars and classic cars to modern sports cars, and other vehicles. People have kept them all in top condition to show off at the Australian GP.
If you’re observant, you’ll also notice the number of people driving around on golf carts. No idea why they couldn’t walk, but I guess it would be slightly quicker.
As an added bit of fun, I spent too much time trying to take pictures of all the different carts I saw on the day. I now have a huge album of pictures that have no explanation. Good effort!
For example, in this one, I didn’t realise until processing that I’d caught the second one in the background.
Or this one, where I’m pretty sure they were lining up to start their race. Never managed to find out who won it though. The extra weight of a passenger might have tipped the odds out of favour for the guys in pole position. Who knows?
Various other races are going on
Before the Formula 1 race takes place there are other races on the track, including one for touring cars. I didn’t know about this, and I also didn’t have any knowledge or interest in it. But, it’s still entertaining to pay attention to while you’re there. The other cars are still quick, and loud, even if they’re not quite at the same level as the main event.
That speed makes it difficult to take pictures of them. My camera at least had a nightmare trying to focus on the cars. It doesn’t help that the track is fenced off behind the metal grid and my camera loves to focus on metal grids. I was a complete novice at this point and had no chance of manually focusing it!
It’s worth considering that although the fencing can be a royal pain in the arse, it’s there for a reason. And, it does a pretty good job at keeping spectators safe. Especially if there’s debris from the race flying around.
These races kind of interrupted my exploring and taking pictures of all the fancy cars and classic sports cars. Including this beauty.
It’s time to get refreshments
After spending a few hours walking around, watching races and taking pictures in the heat, it was time to go find a hard-earned beer. Luckily, my pursuit of golf carts leads me to find the holy grail – a beer tent! Even better? A beer tent with no queue. I’m sure this was the luckiest day of my life. As always, I’ll take this chance to reiterate the fact that you should bring water and sunscreen. Beer is great, but it won’t keep you hydrated.
Now ready, with my beer in hand, I decided to try and find somewhere to settle down to watch the main race. That meant heading over to one of the corners to get a decent vantage point, where I made myself comfortable.
I mentioned earlier there are a few other bits you get to experience when you’re at the Australian Grand Prix.
There are a few flyovers that take place throughout the day, including the famous Qantas jet. As always, here is my picture proof. One that I’m particularly happy with, despite the planes being nowhere near where I wanted them.
You should also take this as a note that Melbourne weather is rather odd. Despite the cool, grey sky from earlier in the day, it can quickly brighten up or soak you. Sometimes even both. Make sure you’re prepared.
Time for the Formula 1 race
And then it was time for the race. As with most British F1 fans, I was backing Lewis Hamilton for the race. I even kept my eyes peeling for the Petronas plastered across his Mercedes.
Fortunately, that helped me to get a couple of pictures. Once again contending with the metal mesh fencing. Just to note, it’s much more difficult taking a decent photo of an F1 car than anything else I’ve tried to snap. Keep trying though!
The race was great, though unfortunately it wasn’t to be and Lewis ended up finishing 5th that year. Not that I’d let that dampen my day.
If you’re thinking about going to the Australian Grand Prix, then I would recommend it. It’s up there with my favourite experiences from Australia. More so because it’s still the only Formula 1 event I’ve ever been to.