In the aftermath of Moomba Masters 2019, waterski fans worldwide are Googling like crazy…trying to figure out how they can get themselves to Melbourne for next year’s event.
As a first-timer to Moomba this year, I have to say, it was everything I dreamed of as a kid. The sun was shining (mostly!), the skiing was incredible, and the atmosphere was electric. If you have been to a ski site anywhere in the world — you are bound to run into someone you know at Moomba — it is a massive waterski-nerd fest!
For those of you new to the sport — the first pro waterski event of the year is possibly the most challenging for the men, women and juniors that take to the water. Set in the centre of Melbourne on the Yarra River, there is often a strong current to contend with. This doesn’t hold them back though, and amazing jump, trick and slalom scores are put on the board each year.
Although challenging, skiers report that it is also the most rewarding tournament, with thousands of spectators filling the banks of the river. The Moomba Masters waterskiing and wakeboarding is part of the Moomba Festival, which also includes show skiing and disabled ski demonstrations, skateboarding, basketball, the Birdman Rally, a parade, live music, fireworks, and a huge funfair — the Moomba Carnival — with rides and street food stalls.
Held over the long weekend in March, the Moomba festival is said to attract 1.3 million people each year and has been running for 65 years. No stranger to the Moomba Masters, and a Victorian local, World Jump Champion Jacinta Carroll gives us the low down on visiting the Moomba Masters 2020.
Q: What advice would you give ski fans visiting Moomba for the first time?
A: My number one tip, although my mother would despise me giving it away: bring a chair and get in early. Each year, while I happily sleep away, my mum wakes up bright and early to head down to the river with her camp chairs. She lines them up in the best vantage point, under the shadiest tree she can find. As a result, no matter the weather, size of the crowd, or length of the day — we know we have a great vantage spot to watch the best skiers in the world from. Trust me, if you attend Moomba without a picnic rug or camp chair, you will be wishing you were best friends with my mum!
Second best tip: watch the night jump during the fireworks! This is seriously a once in a lifetime opportunity for both the athletes and the crowd — but get in early, as literally hundreds of thousands of Melbournians flock to the water's edge right on 9:30pm.
Q: As a Victorian, do you have any top tips for visiting local places nearby before or after the event (wineries, tourist attractions, etc)?
A: While in Melbourne itself I love to try and check out some local coffee shops and eateries. Following the event, I would HIGHLY recommend a trip down the Great Ocean Road to see the 12 Apostles. There is plenty of little beachside communities to stop at on the drive and the drive itself is just as rewarding as you circle down the cliff edges against the Pacific Ocean with blue waves crashing against the foreshore. And if you love an adventure — the Adventure Company offers a scenic flight in an old-school biplane across the 12 Apostles. I recently purchased this for my partner's Christmas present and believe it is one of the best experiences I have ever had.
Q: Where is your favourite place to grab a quick bite in the city (Melbourne)?
A: Oh, this is a tough one – I absolutely love food. However, am always worried about time and not wanting to venture too far from the site when I am competing. Close by to the site, Dad and I experienced some great food, and beer (Dad of course), at the Hophaus in Southbank. This German pub is tucked away upstairs on the Southbank Promenade, so when it comes to Moomba Monday and there are thousands of people around, it's nice to escape upstairs and be rewarded with great food.
Q: Where is the best place in the city to stay during Moomba?
A: Personally I stay at an Airbnb in Southbank. My hosts have been lovely and always very accommodating. Anything within walking distance to Southbank and Flinders Street Station will generally allow you to be in the heart of things for the weekend.
Q: What is your favourite part of the event, as a skier, and as a spectator?
Moomba Monday Jump Finals — hearing the crowd raw. As a Victorian and growing up only one hour away from the site — I absolutely love knowing that there are so many people on the banks cheering me on. The crowd’s influence on the adrenaline and excitement you feel on the water is no other. The feeling of jumping in front of so many eager spectators would nearly have to be the best experiences I get while competing, both in Australia and overseas.