Even for those of us who aren’t sporty ourselves, or even interested in sports, most of us still have a bucket-list of sporting events we would travel for.
The Olympics typically tops this list, followed by the World Cup, or maybe you’re more interested in hitting up the polo to try and land yourself a prince (Harry might be taken, but there are still many single European royals!)
Often it’s not even about the sport, but rather, being part of something bigger than yourself, and getting caught up in the electrifying atmosphere; staying out late with locals as buildings tremor from street celebrations; losing your voice as you scream alongside 100,000 others in a packed stadium.
Tasmania might not be the obvious choice for sporting capitol of Australia (that title goes to Melbourne), however the small island State does throw some incredibly epic annual events.
With cheap flights from all major Australian cities, the following are 5 more reasons to add Tasmania to your bucket-list (though don’t wait too long, this hidden gem of a State can only remain secret for so long!).
Epic Sporting Events You Shouldn’t Miss in Tasmania
Sydney to Hobart Yatch Race
When: December 28 – 31
One of the biggest events of the year in Tasmania is the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race. An annual ocean race that takes off from Sydney Harbor and races down Australia’s east coast towards Tasmania, this is one of the most exciting annual events in the country.
Yacht’s take off from Sydney each boxing day (December 26), and from December 28 – 31 it’s free to watch the boats sail in. Though this is much more than just a boat race; Hobart puts on a festival with live music, food, and drinks, creating a carnival like atmosphere as the yachts finish.
While you can join the enthusiast crowds on the finish line at Castray Esplanade on the Derwent River, you can see the boats sailing into Hobart from many of the southern beaches before the finish.
Long Beach in Sandy Bay, and Taroona Beach are good spots, though you can also book onto Yacht trips and actually sail along side the competitors for some of the way.
If you missed the boats coming in, you can still share a drink with the crew; Shippies (the Shipwright’s Arms) is favorite pub among yacht crews, and the bar could be museum in itself; they proudly display memorabilia from years of this great Aussie tradition.
Polo is the world’s oldest equestrian sport; a royal game that dates back 2,500 years, known as the ‘Game of Kings’. Though for one electrifying day each January, Barnbougle Dunes hosts a tournament on their world-class links.
Welcoming some of the world’s best polo players to Northern Tasmania, Barnbougle Polo combines the excitement and drama of this fast paced game with a social event not to miss. After-all, sipping rosé at the polo is the perfect way to spend a summer’s day!
3,500 people gather here each year for a sophisticated day of networking, entertainment and fashion. So whether horses are your interest or the social scene is more your style, Barnbougle Polo is the place to be seen.
There are ticket options for car boot parking, where you can park next to the field and BYO chairs, general admission where you can pull up some grass with a BYO picnic, or exclusive access to the Stella Artois Marquee, with free flowing alcohol and plenty of Tasmanian produce.
In-between tournaments you can head onto the field to stomp the divots, or participate in fashion on the field. There’s also a half time Tug-o-War, which is most entertaining; especially as most women attempt it in heels (it’s worth noting that their style guide recommends flats as more practical for the day).
Barnbougle is approximately one hour from Launceston and 90 minutes from Launceston airport.
Pro tip: Check the social pages of the paper the next day … look who’s front and center!
Football Season (AFL)
When: March – September
AFL (Australian Football League) is one of Australia’s biggest sports, and while Melbourne’s MCG might be one of the most iconic stadiums, Tasmania sees both the North Melbourne Kangaroos, and the Hawthorn Hawks play a few home games.
AFL season runs roughly from March – September each year, and you can catch the Kangaroos at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena, or the Hawks at Launceston’s Aurora Stadium.
Games in Tassie typically play on a Sunday, and thousands of football fanatics crowd the streets on a pilgrimage through the city to the game. The streets are flooded with colors, scarfs and flags, and the age old buildings literally shake!
When: End of April – Early May
Tasmania has some fairly challenging roads, but if you’re not keen on driving them yourself, you can catch Targa Tasmania; a six day rally that has become known as the largest, longest and hardest tarmac rally event in the world.
Each year 300 + luxury cars travel more than 2,000 kilometres to compete on the island’s toughest roads (think narrow mountain passes, and winding roads that bend along the coast). But where spectators are concerned, you can essentially play luxury car bingo!
Watch for vehicles like Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Lotus, Ford, Holden, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Audi, Nissan and Toyota. The event starts in Launceston and finishes in Hobart, taking in 40 different competitive stages.
Typically taking place towards the end of April / early May, spectators turn the event into a street party, bringing eskies, barbecues, and even couches to enjoy the day! (The official spectator viewing areas are the safest places to watch from).
Image: Tom Reynolds (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
When: July – September
It’s a common misconception that Australia doesn’t see any snow; while there are large ski resorts on the mainland that pull in huge crowds every winter, Tasmania’s ski season typically flies under the radar.
A 2 hour drive east of Launceston, Ben Lomond National Park is an alpine plateau with a fantastic downhill skiing field. The ski village sits at the foot of the slopes, and at 1,453 metres, this is the highest area you can visit in Tasmania.
Two hours from Hobart, Mt Mawson also offers skiing in Mt Field National Park, and is home to one of the steepest runs in Australia. The facilities here are primitive, but it’s cheap skiing, and the area is never crowded.
This is a great spot for everyone, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced. And the cross-country skiing offers spectacular views over the south-west Tasmanian wilderness.
Both Mt Mawson and Ben Lamond require a Tasmanian National Parks Pass, which you can buy online through the Parks & Wildlife Service. And keep your eyes peeled for Bennet’s wallabies and wombats as you make your way through the snow!
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