Mercedes F1 Racing Team
72 Hours in Melbourne
By Amber Kallor
Ritz Carlton Hotel image

Headed to the Australian Grand Prix? Here's what to do Down Under.

After a two-year absence, Formula One made its way back to Melbourne in 2022 for the Australian Grand Prix. The race was nothing short of electrifying as George Russell claimed his first spot on the podium as a Mercedes driver, finishing in third place. Taking in all the action behind the scenes was Melissa Oberhofer, Partner Manager for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Born and raised in Melbourne, she’s no stranger to the city’s bustling streets and navigates her hometown with the same level of confidence that Russell and Lewis Hamilton exhibit on the track.

This season, Oberhofer and F1 fans will have an opportunity to experience The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne, a freshly opened property perched above the city skyline. Crowned Melbourne’s tallest hotel, the 360-degree views from the Sky Lobby (located on the 80th floor) are nothing short of spectacular. “It’s a very luxurious space in the heart of the city and close to everything whether you want go shopping, see a live sports game, or visit the beach,” says Oberhofer, who got a sneak peek of the hotel. The property is also only a few tram stops away from the circuit, making it the perfect respite for racegoers.

Here, Oberhofer shares the best place to get a bird’s-eye view of the track along with her favorite spots to grab a coffee and watch some “footy.” 

A black Formula one car races on a track
What is it like to return to your hometown for a Grand Prix event?

“Being home for a race is super special. Normally, the Australian Grand Prix is the first race of the year, but April in Australia is the best time of the year. The weather is really great and the city is buzzing because Melbourne always has so much going on in terms of sports. It’s footy season, so Australian football is on and it’s a really great time to be out in the sun enjoying at the Grand Prix or the Melbourne Cricket Ground. People are often out having dinner near the botanical gardens, by the Yarra, or by the beach. The whole vibe around Albert Park [where the Grand Prix is held] is great. The streets get shut down for a period of time when the racetrack is being built, but it’s usually a public track and you can even drive parts of the circuit. The Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre is there, as well as a really popular wedding venue called Carousel. When there’s no Grand Prix, it’s a public area where people run, cycle, and play sports.”

What is the view like from The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne?

“The Sky Lobby offers a 360-degree view of the city, which no other property has. It’s one of the most unique buildings in Melbourne. You can see the racetrack, Marvel Stadium, the Macedon Ranges, and the other mountains surrounding Victoria. Being a Melbourne girl, I've never seen a view of Melbourne quite like the one from The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne because it’s completely unobstructed and you can see so far down the peninsula. It’s really something special.”

What makes this track so unique or different from others on the circuit?

“I think we're really lucky to have a Grand Prix dedicated to Australia and there’s no better place for it to be than Melbourne. There have also been some track upgrades. Last year, they removed some of the existing chicane around turns nine and ten. It will be interesting to see how the cars handle it.”

Do you have any pre-race rituals?

“I’m not a morning person, so I like to start my day with an oat milk latte. Melbourne is definitely one of the best places to get a coffee. There are so many great cafes around that you always know you have a good brew right on your doorstep."

What’s your favorite breakfast spot?

Journeyman on Chapel Street does a very good breakfast. I always go for the Persian feta croquette, which has this sweet corn puree and crispy kale. They also do a great coffee!"

A race car driver in a blue helmet
What fuels you on race day?

“I just love the atmosphere on a race day. I love the crowd. I love the energy. My day usually starts off with a really good oat milk latte, but the buzz of the Paddock and the crowd is what gets me through. I love seeing the fans in the stands because once upon a time that was me.”

What sets the Melbourne crowd apart from other fans around the world?

“You never want to say that your hometown has the best fans, but Aussies are so passionate, loving, and friendly. The Grand Prix is a good time and a good place to be. You can make friends with the person next to you because everyone is happy and wants to enjoy the party. You’ll always find someone to share a beer with!”

Where are you most likely to be found on race day?

“I’m mainly between the Paddock and Paddock Club entertaining our guests, taking them on garage tours, and making sure that they enjoy The Ritz-Carlton Silver Arrows hospitality experiences that we have available. I definitely hit 10,000 steps every race day.”

Melissa Oberhofer

You never want to say that your hometown has the best fans, but Aussies are so passionate, loving, and friendly. You’ll always find someone to share a beer with!

What is your favorite way to celebrate post-race?

“My favorite way to celebrate is with the team. At the end of the day, once everyone is packed up, we all sit down in the hospitality suite and have a drink together and talk about the race. Or, if we're in the Paddock, we'll have a team dinner.”

What in particular do you love about Melbourne?

“Other than it being my hometown, Melbourne has some of the best restaurants in the world. It’s also home to my favorite sporting ground: the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). I will always try to sneak in a football game if I can. There is nothing better than being in the MCG with 90,000 people on match day.”

What is the best meal you've ever had in Melbourne?

“It’s hard because I have a few go-tos when I’m at home. The first is Matilda 159 Domain. They do a spanner crab with prawn butter that’s delicious. It’s also a unique restaurant because they cook with all local produce on open flames and hot coals. My other favorite is called Mr. Miyagi, which is a Japanese restaurant on Chapel Street. They have a very quirky, neon, street art vibe. You also can’t go wrong with a local favorite, a chicken parma, which is a chicken schnitzel with ham and cheese at the pub.”

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Are there any other must-see sights?

“In addition to the sporting venues that I've mentioned, I think it’s always great to visit St. Kilda Beach. If you have the time to venture out, you can take Great Ocean Road or go down the Peninsula Link, which has some of my favorite wineries in Victoria. I recommend visiting Polperro Winery, which is stunning. It's in Red Hill and is home to my favorite glass of red.”

If you had one day off in Melbourne what would you do?

“My ideal day would involve a barbecue at home with my family and friends followed by a game at the MCG in the evening.”

Is there a traditional Australian dish or beverage that everyone should try?

“The local thing to do is to have a ‘pot,’ or an Australian beer—like a Victoria Bitter or a Carlton Draught—and a parma. I also love a Solo, which is like a lemon squash. On a cold summer day it’s the best thing ever. My favorite snacks are barbecue Shapes, Tim Tams, or a Baker’s Delight Cheesymite Scroll, which is a doughy bread with a small amount of Vegemite and cheese sold at local bakeries. I know most people aren’t Vegemite fans, but that’s only because they haven’t done it right.”

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