A visit to the National Sports Museum and an MCG Tour is both fun and educational – there is loads to see and plenty to do, and the MCG Tour gives you behind the scenes access that you wouldn’t ever experience as a spectator.
When: Opening times vary depending on events at the MCG, refer to the NSM website for more details.
Where: Gate 3, MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) EAST MELBOURNE
Cost: Tour and museum entry $16 (child 5-15) $31.50 (adult), tour only $12 child, $23 adult, museum entry only $12 child, $23 adults, children under 5 FREE. (correct at time of publishing) buy online now
It’s been over two years since we first visited the National Sports Museum at the MCG (you can read that review here) and this time around we went along with some friends. Wwe got there just after lunch and literally had to drag the kids out (we were the last to leave) at closing time. If I was doing it again I’d put aside the whole day and get there in the morning.
As part of our visit on this occasion we signed up for an MCG Tour. The tours depart regularly (the day we visited, during school holidays, they were leaving every 15 minutes) and run for about an hour and a quarter.. but our guide was very enthusiastic and I think we took more like an hour and a half.
It was at about the 60-minute mark that our little crew started to get a little restless (you know the signs: “x touched me”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m busting”). And while we had already had over an hour in the NSM gallery before the tour – I hadn’t played the timing quite right and so in order to not miss the last tour of the day we left the gallery before we properly finished (with the promise of returning) – and all the kids wanted to do for the last leg of the tour was get back to their game downstairs… that said – the tour was interesting and we covered quite a bit of ground (but once you are on it you can’t really leave – I mean I am sure you could, but you can’t just wander off, the guide would have to organise someone to show you the way out).
Our tour group was mostly made up of die-hard cricket fans visiting Melbourne from overseas. Our tour guide was very excited to have some locals in the group (ie us) and used this opportunity to share his love of AFL – which (much to my friend and my amusement) was completely lost on our lot.. bless them they tried to appear like they knew “who won the game on the weekend” (apparently their team) but eventually the guide realised he was having a one-sided conversation.
If having a look through the members lounge, going behind the scenes into the locker rooms and hearing some background on great moments in sporting history and interesting facts about the building are something that you might find curious then this is an excellent tour. I found it interesting just to walk through the space with no crowd. The special lights that keep the grass growing were operating while we were there and that was interesting to see. And being down on the edge of the grass also gives you an appreciation of what it must be like for the players heading out onto the pitch (although if you went to concerts in the 90’s you’ve probably been down there already).
The day we visited it was a cold, windy and wet Melbourne day (so naturally the Brits were in shorts) – other than when we went down to the edge of the grass we were always under cover – but mostly outdoors (so do rug up if you’re venturing out on a cold day).
As for the National Sports Museum – there are a few new additions since our last visit, but overall just as much fun and full of stuff to see as our previous visit (read more here).
The two tweens in our party took themselves on a bit of a self guided tour answering all the questions in the sports trail quiz (you can pick up a hard copy at the info desk or download it on your phone – hard copy and pencil was a winner for us). And while the space is quite big – there is only one way in and one way out – so for school aged kids it’s a great opportunity to explore with a mate.
The staff at the NSM are delightful – mostly retiree aged and absolute sports buffs… be careful where you hover as you might be given an unexpected history lesson on any matter of sport (so lovely). We definitely wont be leaving it another two years before we return as there really is so much content to take in that there would always be something new to see or learn.
Please note there is a cafe located next door to the museum – but we had so much fun inside the museum that by the time we’d finished the cafe had closed (it looked like a fairly ordinary sandwich bar – but I literally gave it a glance so I could be wrong! Potentially handy for an emergency packet of chips or drink).