GUIDE TO THE MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND
The iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, better known as the MCG, is one of the biggest sports stadiums in the world.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is located a short distance from Melbourne’s city centre in the Melbourne Sports Precinct at Yarra Park, which also includes the Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and AAMI Park. With a total capacity of 100,000 people, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is the largest stadium in Australia, the tenth-largest stadium in the world, and the world’s largest stadium for playing cricket.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground has been the scene of many great sporting events and ‘firsts’ in Australian sporting history since being built in 1853, just 19 years after the founding of the City of Melbourne itself.
It is the home of the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), the oldest sporting club in Australia. In 1877 the first game of Test cricket in history was played between Australia and England on the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In 1971, the ground hosted the first One Day International cricket match. The Boxing Day Test match on Boxing Day (26 December) each year attracts huge crowds. In winter, it serves as the home of Australian Rules football (AFL). The stadium fills to capacity for the AFL Grand Final in late September.
Many international rock concerts have also been held at the MCG. The first rock concert to be held at the ground was David Cassidy in 1974. David Bowie, Paul McCartney, U2, Madonna, The Rolling Stones, the late Michael Jackson, Elton John and Billy Joel have also performed here.
The MCG’s most famous moment in history was as the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2006 Commonwealth Games and athletics events were held at the MCG.
A behind-the-scenes tour of the MCG reveals more than 150 years of Australian sporting excellence. Combine your MCG tour with a visit to the National Sports Museum which features thousands of sporting artefacts showcasing the highlights of Australia’s sporting history, such as cricket legend Don Bradman’s baggy-green cap; Cathy Freeman’s gold medal-winning running suit; and Ian Thorpe’s full body swimsuit. It also houses a permanent gallery dedicated to horse racing, as well as the Australian Gallery of Sport and Olympic Museum, Sport Australia Hall of Fame, Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Birrarung Marr, on the north bank of the Yarra River between Federation Square and the National Sports Precinct, was named by the Wurundjeri Aboriginal people who originally inhabited the area. Designed to host some of Melbourne’s major events and festivals, Birrarung Marr is a place where you can relax or take part in a variety of activities against the backdrop of the Melbourne city skyline and the Yarra River.
The MCG is located about 1km from the city centre. The William Barak pedestrian bridge links Yarra Park with the city. There are two train stations close to the stadium. Jolimont (otherwise known as MCG Station) is a five-minute walk through to the ground. Other transport to the arena includes tram, bus and water taxi.
TOP THINGS TO DO AT THE MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND
Catch a game of Aussie rules in winter
Australian football (also known as Aussie rules, or AFL) is a fast-paced contact sport whose origins can be traced back to matches played in 1858 based on early forms of rugby and Gaelic football. It’s uniquely Australian. Thousands of passionate fans turn up every weekend to cheer on their teams. Buy a ticket and enjoy the spectacle.
Watch a cricket Test match in summer
Cricket is hugely popular in Australia in summer. The MCG is the home of the Melbourne Cricket Club and there are few events in the Australian sporting calendar that evoke as much passion as the Boxing Day Test match, between Australia and a visiting team such as England, South Africa or India. Test matches run for five days.
Take a tour of the stadium
A behind-the-scenes tour of the MCG reveals more than 150 years of Australian sporting history. Explore the stadium’s inner sanctum and walk on the hallowed turf. You can even get up on the stadium’s roof and zip-line from one side of the stadium to the other.
Visit the National Sports Museum
The National Sports Museum features thousands of sporting artefacts showcasing the highlights of Australia’s sporting history, such as cricket legend Don Bradman’s baggy green cap, Cathy Freeman’s gold medal-winning running suit, and Ian Thorpe’s full-body swimsuit. It also houses the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and Australian Football Hall of Fame.
Watch Australian Open tennis
A stone’s throw from the MCG is Melbourne Park, made up of the Rod Laver and Hisense arenas. The Rod Laver Arena is home to the annual Australian Open tennis Grand Slam tournament. Hisense Arena is a multi-purpose venue that hosts basketball, netball and cycling.
Storm, Rebels, Victory and Heart
Cheer on one and all at rectangular AAMI Park, where you could see National Rugby League side Melbourne Storm; rugby union team Melbourne Rebels; or A-League football (soccer) teams Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart.
See the Parade of Champions
The Yarra Park precinct surrounding the sporting stadiums is a green expanse perfect for a stroll along the Yarra River. Follow a trail of Australian sporting heroes on the Tattersall’s Parade of Champions, which celebrates elite sportsmen and women who have competed at the MCG.
Wander around Birrarung Marr
Birrarung Marr is a major park near the MCG, named by the Wurundjeri Aboriginal people who originally lived in the area. It features many sculptures and artworks celebrating Victoria’s Aboriginal culture. Have a picnic by the Yarra River and listen out for the Federation Bells, which ring three times a day.
Stay close to the action
If you want to stay close to the heart of the sporting action, there are several hotels within easy walking distance, including Hotel Lindrum Melbourne MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman Melbourne on the Park, Quest East Melbourne, Quest Jolimont and Mantra on Jolimont.