Review: Melbourne sports venue tour celebrates the city’s sporting passion

From the high-flying spectacle of the AFL to the surging popularity of the A-League, sport is a big part of life in Melbourne. On this fascinating tour, you'll go behind the scenes of the city's most iconic sporting venues — including the mighty MCG. Review: Stephen Hodges

Melbourne sports venue tour

Melbourne sports venue tour: Explore the mighty MCG.

4.5 stars

Melbourne sports venue tour (including the MCG) with Melbourne Sports Tours

Immerse yourself in Australia’s sporting culture on this Melbourne sports venue tour, which includes behind-the-scenes visits to the mighty Melbourne Cricket Ground, Rod Laver Arena, Flemington Racecourse and the National Sports Museum. At the MCG you’ll see the coaches box, Media Centre and player change rooms, and walk on the hallowed turf (all subject to availability). Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

Best price guarantee: If you find this tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book this tour with The Big Bus tour and travel guide.

To say Melburnians love their sport is an understatement.

Each year the city enjoys public holidays for the Australian Rules Football (AFL) grand final and the Melbourne Cup horse race. Melbourne has previously played host to an Olympic Games and a Commonwealth Games. Fans turn out in their tens of thousands for Aussie Rules, rugby league, soccer (football) cricket, tennis, and the list goes on.

For visitors to Melbourne looking to get a taste of this sporting passion, the Melbourne sports venue tour offered by Melbourne Sports Tours is an ideal way to do it. Guests get the chance to go behind the scenes at some of the city’s biggest sporting arenas, including the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Rod Laver Arena — which hosts the annual Australian Open tennis tournament.

I meet our guide at Federation Square and we head off towards our first stop — Flemington Racecourse, which is home to the Victoria Racing Club and the world-famous Melbourne Cup. The thing that strikes me here is the accessibility. The grandstand and lawn area overlooking the post (finish line) are completely accessible to the public. Even in these times of corporate sponsorship and stadium naming rights, sport continues to belong to each and every Melburnian. Venues like Flemington are our special places; where we can come together to celebrate or commiserate our team or horse’s performance, regardless of our standing.

Melbourne sports venue tour

Melbourne sports venue tour. Image: Stephen Hodges

We depart Flemington and make out way back across town to the MCG — the spiritual home of sport in Australia. If sport is a religion as has often been said, then the MCG would have to be regarded as a very large shrine. Here we get access to normally restricted areas, including the players’ balcony and change rooms. Walking out onto the turf beneath the soaring stands gives you a sense of just how daunting it must be to play here in front of 100,000 roaring fans.

Melbourne sports venue tour

Enjoy a walk on the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Image: Stephen Hodges

Our next stop is Albert Park, where we take a drive along the public road that becomes the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix racing circuit each year. It’s hard to believe the transformation that takes place in preparation for the Grand Prix. The only evidence is the fixed garages. Otherwise, it’s just a picturesque park, full of joggers and workers relaxing during their lunch breaks.

Our included lunch is served at Etihad Stadium, before we continue on to Rod Laver Arena. Here we get more of that sense of the accessibility of sport in this city. Our guide explains that during the Australian Open the public can purchase tickets to sit on any seat in the centre court arena (apart from the player’s box). Also, the players’ change room balcony looks out over the public domain, so you are almost guaranteed of getting a glimpse of your favourite player between matches.

Melbourne sports venue tour

Melbourne sports venue tour: Go behind the scenes at Rod Laver Arena. Image: Stephen Hodges

Everything we’ve seen so far on this amazing day out comes together at our final stop — the National Sports Museum. The museum is packed with historic photos and memorabilia, but for me the highlight is the interactive element. You can kick a football, shoot hoops or cycle in a simulated velodrome. There’s even a chance to have a go at commentating on the action.

Melbourne invites every visitor to share in our passion for sport. The best way is to buy a ticket, but for those that aren’t fortunate enough to be here on match days, this Melbourne sports venue tour is the next best thing.

Stephen travelled as a guest of Melbourne Sports Tours.

Additional images: Bigstock


Stephen Hodges

About the writer

Stephen Hodges was a teacher and a social worker before he left Australia for a three-year overseas adventure. While travelling he worked as a grouse beater in Scotland, a chicken farmer on a Kibbutz in Israel and a camp counsellor in France. On his return to Melbourne, Stephen began working in the travel industry and set up a business, which he ran for six years. He still has a passion for travel and believes life is all about experiences — and that you can find them in the most unlikely places, if you look hard enough.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>