“Football is essentially a religion, with varying degrees of devoutness. The Sunday church service is the weekend game. The hymns are the theme songs … ” (ABC News)
If football is Melbourne’s main religion, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is its cathedral – “in many ways it's analogous to the great cathedrals of old in European civilisations, where a community gathers to celebrate or mourn," writes Traveller.
Melbourne is also one of the world’s great tennis cities. During last two weeks of January, the city plays host to the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam event of the international tennis calendar (followed by the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) at the at the Rod Laver Arena on the banks of the Yarra River. More than half a million people turn up to revel in the tournament -- and this how some of the world’s leading tennis writers described the Australian Open to Inside Tennis magazine …
“What every sporting event --never mind tennis event -- ought to aspire to. Accessible, affordable, filled with rabid and knowledgeable fans. The players arrive relatively fresh, healthy and full of optimism, so there's a vibe that eludes the other events.”
“The atmosphere is relaxed, but the crowds are passionate, informed and sometimes hilarious. Everything works, everyone is friendly, and Melbourne is, quite simply, a great place to be.”
“A summer party, tickets are easier to get and cheaper, no rainouts because of two retractable ceilings, the tournament is within walking distance of hotels.”
“It's got the greatest sense of adventure, perhaps because it's a target for lots of travelers who are on a gap year or having the trip of a lifetime, and as a North European, I really love being in a T-shirt and shorts in January!”
And then there’s the Melbourne Cup ... "Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation,” wrote Mark Twain. “The Cup astonishes me."