Sunday, March 3, 2024

Sports and a Side of City: How to Make the Most of Your Jaunt Across the Ditch for a Big Game

Let’s face it, sometimes a trip to Australia is necessary because little old New Zealand has missed out on something (ahem TAYLOR) or else, we’re wanting to experience some heart-stopping sport with our Antipodean cousins. Thousands of us head over to watch a sporting fixture every year, so if you are planning on crossing the ditch, here’s what else you can add into your itinerary.

Melbourne

Melbourne is a city synonymous with both sport and culture so it’s the perfect place to head if you want your sport cravings satisfied – served with a bloody good coffee too, of course.

Melbourne is sport in Australia – they’ve actually *thought* about where to put things in their city to make sense (yes I’m talking about the waterfront stadium, gah) and you can take in multiple games across multiple codes in one weekend. But while you’re there, you may as well…

Do a tour of the Queen Victoria Markets

You CANNOT miss heading to the Queen Victoria Markets when you’re in Melbs – hell, its worth a trip over just to roam the aisles and eat your way through the hundreds of different family-run stalls.

It’s been there since 1878 and sprawls over two city blocks, and is the home of more than 600 small family businesses, some of which are in their fifth generation of ownership. You’ve got kai coming out of your ears here – fruits and veges sure, but incredible smallgoods, delis positively bursting with products you’d love to have in your pantry and SO many treats you must come hungry AND with your stretchiest pants on (trust me). There’s also a whole shed of awesome home décor, clothing and souvenirs that you’ll actually want in your house.

Take my advice and shell out for the tour – you’ll be guided around the market’s highlights and provided with an insane about of tastings (don’t miss the oysters, kangaroo sausage and the lamingtons!). You’ll also hear some of the history, hear the stall owners’ stories and get a true appreciation for this incredible Melburnian icon.

Take a tour of the MCG

I mean you’re there for sport anyway – you might as well soak up the icon, the legend, the fortress that is the Melbourne Cricket Ground. You’ll be taken around all the nooks and crannies of this historic stadium, shown some of its history and regale in the awe-inspiring yarns. I was there to watch the All Blacks v Wallabies Bledisloe clash later that day so our tour was a little more rugby-centric, but you’ll hear so many yarns about cricket that are actually interesting (trust me). Plus, there’s an interactive museum that kids (and grown-up kids) will love. Oh, and AWESOME photo ops – see below!

Brisbane

Brisbane is buzzing right now as they gear up to host the 2032 Olympics and from just one visit, it’s clear the whole city is just one big Olympic village-in-waiting. I visited to take in a women’s football world cup game and Brizzy is already humming about its future as a world-class sports destination. So if you’re planning a visit, here’s what else you should do…

Go on a day trip to Tangalooma Island Resort

You would not believe this little slice of paradise is only 75 mins on a ferry from Brisbane because you’ll swear you’re in Fiji. It was once the South Pacific’s biggest whaling station – now, it’s known for its whale watching. Head over for a simple day of chilling on the beach, perhaps feeding the local dolphins and enjoying a sunset cocktail (you get lunch for free!) or do what I did and pack in as many activities as you possibly can.

I mean realistically you’ll do one or two, but you can choose between an ATV tour; sand boarding down massive sand dunes (it’s leg day on steroids, be warned); snorkel the sunken shipwrecks; swim in the pool; enjoy free water sports or, if you’re feeling fancy, jump in a helicopter for a bird’s eye tour of the island and if you’re lucky like I was, you’ll see whales on their migration north. And if you’re like me you’ll cry with happiness.

Kayak the Brisbane River

If you want to get a true sense of Brisbane and you’re all about closing those Apple Watch rings, head to Riverlife and try your hand at kayaking. You can go at your own pace (read: snail) and see the city from its famed river – and you stop at the best photo point, just past the Story Bridge.

If you want to get the heart rate going a bit more, you can even abseil down the adjacent cliffs!

Sydney

Everything – sport and otherwise – happens in Sydney and it’s the Aussie city where most of us pass through and end up in, and there’s so much to do in the big smoke that it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start! So, here’s what else you can get up to…

Take the ferry out to Manly

Sydney (and Melbourne, to be fair) have the wonderful advantage of awesome public transport so you may as well make the most of the mobility by jumping on one of Sydney’s famed ferries (and you don’t even need a special card, a credit card is fine). Manly is the cutest little Northern Beaches town with, as you’d expect, an epic beach, great pubs, a wonderful street market that I could have dropped THOUSANDS in, and a more relaxed vibe than the city itself. The shopping is also great – somehow I walked away with a bright orange blazer and shorts set and some ceramics – and there’s always something happening around every corner. Go for the day or just the afternoon, it’s definitely worth it.

Go to the Tina Turner Musical

Remember the legend that was Tina with Tina- the Tina Turner Musical at the Theatre Royal Sydney. You’ll experience the incredible and inspiring life story of Tina, the absolute QUEEN of rock and roll in a musical that has critics absolutely fizzing and leaves everyone who sees it humming Simply the Best for days (one would imagine!).

Make a night of it and head to World Top 50 bar Maybe Sammy beforehand!

The writer was hosted by Tourism Australia. All opinions are her own.

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