If you come to Melbourne between late March & late September you really have to come see a "footy" game at the "G" - the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Yeah I know it says "Cricket" Ground not "Footy" Ground, but cricket is for Summer & footy is for Autumn through Winter.
And, "footy" in this case refers to Australian Rules football not Soccer (what many refer to as the only football) or Rugby League or Rugby Union in the northern states.
I've been to 3 AFL footy games at the "G" this year & frankly the first one was pretty ordinary for two reasons.
Firstly my team, the Sydney Swans lost to the Richmond Tigers & secondly the atmosphere at the ground was pretty ordinary with a smallish crowd not even half filling what is an 80 000 (plus) capacity ground. That was at the start of July.
Late August I attended the Swans v Hawthorn Hawks match which we not only one, but had a bigger crowd with a lot better atmosphere.
BUT!!!! The biggie was the last weekend in September when my team the Sydney Swans played the West Coast Eagles (from Perth) in the AFL Grand Final & after a dour, but incredibly exciting struggle over the 4 quarters, the Swannies got up by a mere 4 points! All this as part of a crowd of a bit over 90 000 people, many of whom were wearing the Red & White of the Sydney/South Melbourne Swans!
Equipment: Now, if you find that you'll be in Melbourne for the last weekend in September then you will have to get yourself some tickets organised WELL IN ADVANCE! And the master of understatement is striking once again. Yes I mean months in advance & there are packages available from travel agents. I would suggest having a look at www.afl.com.au & having a look at their AFL Travel link.
Now if you are going to be here at another time of the footy season I suggest you check with the locals & see what games are worthwhile going to see at either the MCG or the Telstra Dome. The Swans play the Essondon Bombers in the opening round of the 2006 season at the Telstra Dome on the Saturday night of April 1.
So get some colours to support a team. If it's cool a scarf or if it's hot & sunny a cap & get out and do some cheering!
If you are lucky enough to catch an International Rugby Test match here in Melbourne, it will most likely be played at Telstra Dome.
Australia won 69-21, although it was not really a fair match. The Wallabies were bigger, stronger and faster than Italy at every position.
It was however a great excuse to take some photos and drink some Carlton Draught.
One of the most important things to do when you are in Melbourne is to enjoy a Victoria Born sport, Australian Rules Football. This used to be the VFL, or Victorian Football League, but it has recently incorporated the whole country and therefore needed to change its name.
Footy is a great game to watch, as the action is pretty continous, and the concept is simple! Kick the ball through the posts, while your opponents try to knock your head off!
Equipment: Just some warm clothes and a great attitude!
At 2:50pm on the first Tuesday in November, the whole country tunes in.
People that have no interest in horse racing have a bet.Belive me its true ( Speaking for myself) School children are allowed home early to watch it on TV.
The entire state of Victoria has a holiday. Flemington, where the race is held, is a heaving glut of champagne, funny hats, colourful dresses, jockeys, punters, beautiful people, ugly people, normal looking people and those who are sort of non-descript – aka everybody.
At least 150,000 people get to the track, and the same happens at every suburban and metropolitan race-track in the whole country.
Australians go mad for ‘The Cup’, everyone becomes an expert and sweepstakes are held in offices, pubs, clubs, classrooms and parliament houses around the country.
Aussies are crazy about their football.. "Aussie Rules Football".
In fact Aussies are crazy about sport in general.. Football in winter, and cricket in summer.
Ohh, and there are lots of other sports in between.
I have never really been crazy about sport myself, but do have a favorite team.... The Pies.. (Collingwood)
Collingwood played its first game as a full-fledged member of the VFA on May 7, 1892 against Carlton and lost by two goals to three.
It was the beginning of one of Australian sport's longest running, and strongest, rivalries, which is still very much alive today.
The Magpies were the youngest of the clubs that formed the Victorian Football League in 1897, but have made a huge impact on the competition and the game in general.
Today... Still the best team!
I specifically went to Melbourne to see the Grand Prix, overall it was a pretty good event. Nothing beats actually being there next to the track where the cars are racing, you just can't really connect the same way watching it through the TV.
In my opinion the Melbourne Grand Prix as an event wasn't as good as it's predecessor the Adelaide Grand Prix, the biggest difference being no after-race concert. The after-race entertainment consists of being able to walk along the track and check out pit lane through the wire fences. Also there aren't many parts of the track where the cars go slow. Albert Park is a picturesque setting though, with it's lake, palm trees and green grass.
A General Admission ticket on race day was $95, for the money it's probably better to invest in a grandstand ticket for around $350 which covers all four days and guarantees a decent view.
I recommend getting to the track at least three hours before the race starts. I got there an hour before and all the good spots I came across were jam-packed. If possible, find out from someone in the know where the best areas are.
If played right the Grand Prix can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Equipment: Ear plugs, hat, beverage, sunglasses, emergency poncho (foldable plastic raincoat), and lightweight chair if going early.
With the MCG, the tennis courts and the formula one circuit, there is always something going on sporting wise in this city.
You can always try your hand at golf just outside the city or take a boat out for sailing, go swimming with dolphins or any other watersports you can think of. Surfshire is only a short drive out to the west...
Equipment: Swimming and watersports gear must be a must?!
Almost year round, you can enjoy St. Kilda Beach is a great place to take a walk or ride a bike. This beach sees over 70,000 visitors a year, but even in the wintertime there are plenty of people hiking, biking, and rollerblading!
They have separated the bike trails from the walking trails, so you do not even have to keep one eye peeled!
After that, you can head onto the pier and enjoy a walk for some spectacular views of the city!
Equipment: Walking shoes, bike, or blades!
Melbourne has a lot of top quality sporting events which include AFL, international cricket, Australian Open Tennis and Grand Prix Motorsport.
Equipment: Just bring yaself to watch these great events and maybe some binoculars and a camera.
Its one of the 4 Tennis Grand Slams - that should be enough to recommend it! Consequently it attracts all the top players from around the world. Its also the first of the year, taking place at the Rod Laver Arena in January every year (tickets go on sale in October).
Like most major tennis tournaments around the world, tickets are purchased by sessions - afternoon or evening.
Afternoon tickets are for access for outside courts throughout the day and night. Evening tickets are for the two main arenas (reserved seating) and are for 2 games, but also provide access to any outside court after 5pm.
In real terms, evening tickets result in less matches (fewer matches on the outside courts as the day progresses) , but will have guaranteed seeded players.
Atmosphere is electric, whether inside the main arenas at night, daytime outside courts or watching the centre court match on the huge video screen in the beer gardens.
Ticket prices vary - from $A49 (first couple of days) - $A300 for men's final.
Equipment: Its pretty exposed, so be careful of sun stroke! take public transport - its on the edge of the CBD and so VERY easy to get to.
If you are feeling athletic when visit Melbourne, one of the best places to get a little exercise is on the banks of the Yarra River. Winding all the way from the Docklands past the middle of the CBD and out into the suburbs, the Yarra is a long windy path.
There are some great views of the city to make sure you remember your camera when you are talking the walk, run, or bicycle.
This is also a great place to have a barbecue and watch the rest of the hard working Australian workout fanatics.
The first of tennis's 4 Grand Slams and Melbourne starts it all every tennis calendar year in January downunder.
The tournament was first played in 1905 as The Australasian Championships, becoming the Australian Championships in 1927 and the Australian Open in 1969. Melbourne Park (formerly Flinders Park) was constructed in time for the 1988 Open to meet the demands of the evolving tournament that had outgrown the previous site, Kooyong's capacity.
Till the 80s, many of tennis's big names refuse to make their way downunder, always citing distance as a deterrence. Odd names littered the champion's roll on both the women's and the men's side for decades. All this changed with the arrival of the 90s, and suddenly, this tournament bloomed to become the true Grand Slam that it is. All the modern day No.1s have won or at least reached the finals, bringing new meaning to the tournament's new tagging as "The Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific".
On the women side, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo & Maria Sharapova all made their way onto the victory podium while 2 other No.1s Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters made the finals. On the men side, the see-saw dominance of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi gave way to the rise of Roger Federer in the new millennium. In between, 2 other No.1s, Yevgeny Kafelnikov & Marat Safin won here and another 3, Carlos Moya, Marcelo Rios and Australia's very own Lleyton Hewitt, made the finals.
Watch tennis big names slug it all out under the hot Aussie summer sun and see who survives the 2 weeks struggle to emerge queen and king.
Equipment: You can actually take a tour of Rod Laver Arena for A$13 per pax, circa 2008, via a guide.
You will get to check out the player's locker room (I know which one Andy Roddick prefers, knowledge courtesy of my guide, a big fan of his), take a shine to the trophies, walk down the path of champions and pretend you are answering journalist questions at the players conference room.
And then after, you can spend even more money at the shop selling memorabilia.
And oh for about A$20...you can book and play on the baby blue courts, the outside ones though...just to ham it up even more.
Although a major event took place at the time, you are spoilt for choice. AFL, tennis, motorsports etc. Melbourne has many world class facilities and hosts world class events.
Places one can visit include: MCG, Telstra Dome and other
Any sports fan has to go to the MCG if you come to Melbourne. Despite being called the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) this ground has hosted many great sporting events! Yes, cricket being one of them, AFL (Australian Football League) - where the Grand Final is played every year, rugby, soccer/football (where in May '06 Australia defeated Greece!), International Rules (hybrid sport of AFL and Gaelic football).
In 1956 Melbourne hosted the Olympic Games and the MCG was one of the sporting venues. This year it was used for the Commonwealth Games. It was also used as a venue for soccer/football for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. In fact the first game of soccer was played before the official opening of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, so before the first match at the MCG, there was a smaller 'unofficial' opening ceremony with singers and a stadium full of dancers (which I am proud to say that I was one of!).
The MCG has recently had its seating capacity increased and at this years Grand Final (West Coast Eagles defeating the Sydney Swans by 1 point!) there were 97,431 people in attendance - can you imagine what sitting in a crowd like that would be like? Amazing! (The seating is on four different levels)
To check out the MCG tours are run on all 'non-events' days (ie, when there aren't any matches on) between 10am-3pm. For more information check out the website below.
This is a great part of Melbounre's/Australia's history and I think anyone interested in sport should go here, either for a tour or preferably for a match.
Equipment: In winter: coat, scarf of your teams colours (if watching AFL).
In summer: hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water.
ace hi provides very good bush and beach rides. the toure gides are very nice and helpfull and the most important thing: the horses are very good. not that typical tourist horses, no there are in a good condition and you can see that they enjoy what they are doing.
the beach ride takes about 3, the bush ride about 2 houres.
as this is avery big ranch you can stay there over the night as well.
and for kids they have a special bonus: the wildlife park.