Last weekend motorbike enthusiasts from all around the world arrived on Phillip Island for Round 16 of the 2017 season MotoGrand Prix competition. Having lived in Melbourne for 3 years now and not having been to the Phillip Island MotoGp we decided this year was the right time to head to the island with our kids.
If you have some young motorcycle enthusiasts then here are some tips for taking your kids to the Phillip Island MotoGP.
How to get to the island
Phillip Island is located in Victoria just under 2 hours from Melbourne. The island can easily be reached by car driving over a bridge with no toll. We departed Melbourne around 7.30am and reached the track around 9.30am factoring in traffic.
People who book in advance tend to stay on the island in either houses or book a camping ticket. The accommodation books a year in advance so this option is only for people who are definite they will be attending.
For families who may make a decision closer to the event driving is a hassle free option with parking in a field across from the track for $15. Coaches also run from Flinders St Station to the island with set departure times at both ends. We prefer the flexibility of driving with children but did see families boarding the coaches.
The police have a heavy presence on the island and surrounding area to make sure everyone arrives and departs the island safely. We didn’t see any typical ‘hooning’ behaviour which families may be concerned about. It did bring a smile to our face to see so many families come out at the end of the race on Sunday to line the footpaths and wave at bikers departing the island.
What to wear to the MotoGP
This was the first MotoGP event for our son but our daughter had been introduced to the excitement of MotoGrand Prix as a one year old when we travelled to Catalunya, Spain.
Unfortunately the weather on Phillip Island, VIC tends to be nothing like the endless sunshine of Spain.
Wear layers and functional clothing
You have heard the expression ‘4 seasons in one day’ and this is the case for Melbourne but especially Phillip Island. The track is right on the coastline meaning the circuit can be buffeted by onshore winds. While the MotoGP is held in Spring, this is Melbourne so rain can definitely be expected. On the day we attended we had pouring down rain, cloud filled skies as well as bright blue skies and enough sunshine for us to get sunburnt.
Water resistant clothing for tops and bottoms is required – just like you would wear for the snow. Beanies are a definite and gloves for kids as well as a hat for protection from the sun. Don’t forget sunscreen. Trackside can get muddy so boots or gumboots make great footwear options. I wore jeans with rainpants over the top. I had a t-shirt, polar fleece, and snowboarding jacket on top. The kids wore their snow gear and we also brought green garbage bags for them to wear on the bottom so their pants didn’t get wet.
All options were needed throughout the changing weather. Fortunately as the rain comes in from the ocean you can see it coming, giving you a couple of minutes to scramble back into wet weather clothing and make sure the kids are covered to keep dry. The wind makes umbrellas useless and they block the views of the track. A good quality rain jacket is a much better option. At worst cheap plastic poncho’s can be bought at the island but these are pretty useless against the strong wind gusts and one you can reuse again from a camping store like Anaconda or Ray’s Outdoors is a better option.
Our tip for kids is to use a picnic blankets which has a protective bottom. Flip it over the kids and it will keep them totally dry and warm till the rain stops. We had a few parents close by comment that it was a great idea and they will bring their own rug next year!
Ear Protection is a must
The MotoGP is loud and ear protection is a must for kids and adults alike. Unfortunately ear protection for kids was not available for purchase at the event so you will need to purchase before you arrive. We purchased our kids ear protection cheaply from Bunnings (they were brilliant i have used them when the kids want to argue) and as adults we had soft ear plugs. Many motorcyclists wear earplugs while riding anyway. It was wonderful to see nearly all children at the event were wearing earprotection. Without ear protection, a child’s hearing is at risk of being damaged and the noise is loud enough to be painful making it quite an unpleasant day for the kids. Our experience is small kids don’t enjoy compressible inner ear canal ear plugs so the kind my kids are wearing above may work best for your family too.
Buy General Admission Tickets
Our tip would be to buy General Admission tickets which allow a child under the age of 14 to go free with a paying adult. General admission is the cheapest option but also means you can choose any of the general admission areas to sit at. The MotoGP can be a long event for kids. The well known riders are in the Moto 3 category which means there are warm ups and two other races before the main event gets under way. Being in a general admission area means kids can lay down on a picnic rug, run around, kick a ball and stretch their legs before the main event.
Choose a great spot at the Circuit
The tickets near the straight are the most expensive so this must be the best spot to see the race right? Wrong!
If you take kids along the straight they basically get to see riders go by quickly in a straight line. Look for other spots around the track where spectators are close and kids can see the riders lean over into a corner. If you are not sure look for where the camera men have based themselves. The start of the race this year was brilliant for Aussie Jack Miller and the crowd went wild to see an Aussie rider leading the pack at the start of the race.
This year we based ourselves at Turn 11. We could hear the bikes before the riders came out of MG and Turn 11 was a common spot for riders to run wide and fall off.While no adult wants to see a rider come off, the kids sure love the excitement of a crash.
Check out the Expo and Events
The organisers work hard to create an event for the whole family and this year it was a huge success. There was a great expo for adults, cool street art being sprayed up for teens and Honda made sure the little kids added their product to the Santa wish list by letting kids trial their bikes for FREE trackside. All parents had to do was book them in.
Raffy was beside himself when he saw Honda was letting kids ride their bikes. Unfortunately he was too little to ride alone but they offered to give him his first ever dink if he was interested. Was he ever!!
The merchandise stands were pretty evenly represented in our household. Raya is a Rossi fan, Raffy loves his Kawasaki’s and I’ll have a BMW thanks very much.
Bring Cameras and Binoculars
Being in general admission and close to the track doesn’t mean you need to go crazy like the guy behind me. We always find our kids love taking their own photos. If your kids have binoculars then bringing them to the MotoGp would probably increase the enjoyment for your kids too. Being first to recognise who is coming around the bend would make them mini commentators.
Our kids had a brilliant day at the MotoGP and said they can’t wait till next year. With kids being able to attend for free the Australian GrandPrix event is both family friendly and affordable.