Review: Melbourne sports venues tour celebrates the city’s sporting passion inner banner

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

From high-flying AFL matches to the thrill of the Spring Racing Carnival, sport is a big part of life in Melbourne. This popular tour will take you behind the scenes of the city's most iconic sporting venues.
Melbourne sports venues tour
Melbourne sports venues tour
Review: Melbourne Sports Venues Tour

To say Melburnians love their sport is an understatement.

Each year the city enjoys public holidays dedicated to the Australian Rules Football (AFL) grand final and Melbourne Cup horse race. Melbourne has previously played host to an Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games, and fans regularly turn out in their tens of thousands for AFL, rugby league, soccer (football), cricket, and tennis matches. It’s not love; it’s an obsession!

Today I’m joining Melbourne Sports Tours on their popular Melbourne sports venues tour, which takes guests behind the scenes at some of the city’s most impressive sporting facilities. We’ll visit the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Rod Laver Arena — which hosts the annual Australian Open tennis tournament. As a massive sports fan, I can’t wait to get started!

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I meet my tour guide and fellow guests at Federation Square in the CBD, and we board a modern mini bus for the 20-minute drive to our first port of call — an elevated viewpoint of Flemington Racecourse. Home to the Victoria Racing Club and world-renowned Melbourne Cup, the course looks spectacular and we’re able to pick out various key features from our position. Sporting venues like Flemington are incredibly special to the people of Melbourne; they’re places where we can come together to celebrate or commiserate the performance of our favoured champions, regardless of our social differences.

Melbourne sports venues tour
Melbourne sports venues tour: Flemington Racecourse. Image: Stephen Hodges

Departing Flemington, we make our way back across town to the mighty MCG — arguably Australia’s most revered sporting ground. Here we join a tour of the normally restricted areas, including the player change rooms and hallowed halls of the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC). Stepping onto the edge of the sacred turf provides a sense of just how daunting it must be to play at the MCG in front of 100,000 roaring fans.

Melbourne sports venues tour
Melbourne sports venues tour: Do a tour of the MCG. Image: Visit Victoria

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 in late March each year. It’s hard to believe the transformation that takes place here in preparation for the Grand Prix. The only evidence is the row of permanent garages; otherwise, it’s just a picturesque lakeside park populated by ducks and swans.

A bistro-style lunch is included in the tour price, and is served at an eatery in the Docklands’ Marvel Stadium. From there, we head over to Melbourne Park for our much-anticipated tour of Rod Laver Arena. The Australian Open is held every January and sees the world’s top players strut their stuff on Centre Court. The players’ change room balcony overlooks the public domain, so you’re almost guaranteed of getting a glimpse of your favourite players between matches.

Melbourne sports venues tour
Melbourne sports venues tour: Explore Rod Laver Arena. Image: Stephen Hodges

Everything we’ve seen so far comes together at our final stop — the recently refurbished Australian Sports Museum in the MCG precinct. It’s packed with historic photos and memorabilia, but for me the highlight is the array of interactive experiences. You can kick a football, shoot hoops, or cycle in a simulated velodrome. There’s even the opportunity to have a go at match commentating.

Melbourne sports venues tour
Melbourne sports venues tour: Australian Sports Museum. Image: Visit Victoria

Melbourne invites every visitor to share in its passion for sport, and the best way to do it is to buy a match ticket. But for those who aren’t fortunate enough to be here on game days, this Melbourne sports venues tour is the next best thing!

The writer travelled as a guest of Melbourne Sports Tours.

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Additional images: Bigstock

Stephen Hodges

About the writer

Stephen Hodges left his full-time career as a teacher to embark on 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 set up a travel business and ran it successfully for six years. He still has a passion for the industry, and believes that you can find memorable and meaningful experiences in the most unlikely places — if you look hard enough.





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