This is my absolute favorite time of year in Australia. The weather is warm and the beach is calling. People start to close their laptops for the holidays and open the lids on their barbeques instead. Once the New Year ticks over, the celebrations continue at full force in Melbourne, the sporting capital of Australia.
In January, the world’s best tennis players take to the court at Melbourne Park for the Australian Open; all while the world’s best poker players take to the felt at Crown Casino for the Aussie Millions. Throw in Australia Day, our version of the Fourth of July, and the buzz around the city is simply fantastic.
Getting There and Around
Melbourne International Airport (MEL) is a 20-minute drive, without traffic, from the city center. The most cost-effective mode of transport is the SkyBus, which will take you to Southern Cross Station just a few blocks away from Crown. If you’d prefer to be taken straight to the door of your hotel, then there are plenty of taxi’s available for around AUD$60.
Getting around the city is easy thanks to most places being within walking distance from Crown’s central location. If not, then there are trams and taxis available on almost every street corner.
Where to Stay
Crown is home to three world-class hotels, Crown Towers, Crown Promenade Hotel and Crown Metropole. When it comes to location and luxury, there is simply no better choice than to stay at Crown. The only problem is that rooms are selling out fast thanks to the Aussie Millions, Australian Open and Chinese New Year all happening at once. If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet, then head to the Crown Melbourne website to do so.
Things to Do
To follow that up, Crown then announced a last-minute addition to the schedule — an addition that had the entire poker world talking — the Super High Roller. Twenty players coughed up $250,000 each to buy-in and the $2.5 million first-place prize went to Eric Seidel, which kick-started his incredible 2011 heater.
And then the Million Dollar Cash Game displayed some of the most unbelievable poker that’s ever been seen in the PokerNews Live Reporting blog. This year, the same events will repeat, along with many others on the schedule.
Even Phil Ivey, who is set to continue his recent return to the live tournament circuit, claims the Aussie Millions to be his favorite tournament of the year. Listen to him say that for yourself, plus so many more highlights from last year, in the following video.
The 2012 Australian Open is the only Grand Slam tennis tournament to be held in the Southern Hemisphere, and has been for over 100 years. Whether you’re a tennis lover or not, you will absolutely love joining the hundreds of thousands of people who walk through the gates of Melbourne Park for the last two weeks of January.
All of your favorite tennis stars fly in for the event, and they are often spotted around Crown, the popular accommodation of choice. Every day, the grounds at the Australian Open are laced with entertainment to suit even the tennis-hater, from free concerts to carnivals.
Melbourne Park is just a 20-minute walk from Crown, throughout the stunning city of Melbourne along the Yarra River. I would suggest stopping at Federation Square for dinner in the sun along the way. There are also water taxis that will take you almost door-to-door, offering amazing views, particularly at night like the image above.
A Sip in the Sun
To get a real taste of Melbourne’s social culture, a sunny day spent in a beer garden is a must. The city is sprinkled with rooftop gardens and beach-side bars that are the perfect place to get that dose of Vitamin D that is missing in the poker room.
Any beach-side bar throughout the infamous St. Kilda area is a winner, or if you can’t venture too far from Crown, then Lagerfield Bar & Beer Garden is the perfect choice, just upstairs from the poker room.
If you like to discover hidden gems, then take a walk into city center and explore Melbourne's "laneway culture," where you will find tucked-away bars that open up into brilliant rooftop gardens.
Although, the ultimate place for this in January would be the beer garden found within the fences of the Australian Open. If you can’t get your hands on center court tickets, then this is the next best option to be amongst the exciting atmosphere while watching the action on the giant screen with a ground pass ticket for just AUD$29.
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