Well I’ve had a brilliant weekend enjoying the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. I’ve been living in Melbourne for nearly three years now, and taken many a Sunday stroll around glorious Albert Park. But till now, I’ve never been to what is arguably Melbourne’s biggest international sporting event (and this city hosts some pretty big events, let me tell you!).
The vibe here this weekend has been amazing, as Melburnians, Aussies from further afield and overseas visitors all descend on the city for a weekend of fast cars and fun.
The day of the race dawned sunny and warm and, on a whim, I found myself joining the throng queueing for a general admission ticket to sprawl on the grass by the track. Albert Park was transformed, barely recognisable as the scene of my quiet lakeside weekend walks. It was a hive of activity, buzzing with hospitality tents, food stalls and crowds of people of all ages having a good time.
The Roulettes (Oz’s answer to the British Red Arrows) dazzled with a brilliant aerobatic display above the track. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved going to airshows and when the Hornet did its customary fly-past at the end of the display, my child-like excitement was complete. That is, until a huge Qantas 747 glided over, far lower than any large jet aircraft really should over a city – a breath-taking sight!
After the big build-up, there was a sudden roar of engines as the racing cars sped away from the start line, and the race was on. The noise was deafening as the cars’ multiple high-pitched whines filled the air above Albert Park for well over an hour and a half. Brit driver Jenson Button won by a whisker – but the crowd was congratulating local boy Mark Webber who, coming fourth, excelled all his previous Aussie GP performances: result!
I’m not a “city person” – but this weekend, Melbourne really came into its own and proved that when it comes to putting on an event, it’s a city that’s second to none.