Admittedly, my trip to Australia was to watch a tennis event – the so called “Happy Slam” or the “Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific”. Here’s a quick itinerary to get the most out of your visit to Melbourne Park.
The Australian Open is the most conveniently located Grand Slam of the all; it’s a quick 20 minute walk along the banks of the Yarra river to the centre of the city, leading to the popular attractions such as Federation Square and Flinders Street Station. If you’re rushing to get to the stadiums, there are free dedicated trams that will take you directly to the venue during the course of the sporting event. Warning – Australia takes it sport seriously, crazily dressed (or undressed!) fans wearing flags, or spelling out their favourite players’ names will be all over the sport grounds, and in Melbourne.
Ticket prices have gone substantially over the past couple of years – the 5-day grounds pass used to cost AUD 99, but for 2013 it’s now AUD 130 at the gates; with the appreciation of the AUD, the cost of the ticket is compounded further. My tip for tickets: be there on the first week – that’s when you’ll have the practiced courts filled with players before their actual matches. The 5-day grounds pass will let you choose any of the 5 days (does not have to be consecutive) within the two weeks. Do not use your grounds pass when you have a ticket to the show courts (Rod Laver Arena or Hisense Arena), as they show court tickets already have a grounds pass for the day it is valid. No tickets to the games? You can watch for free and still get the stadium experience (well, sort of) at Federation Square. They have a giant screen set up there, and particularly great to watch events in the night time while downing some beers.
Speaking of drink, save a bit of money, and bring a water bottle to the event – there are plenty of drinking stations with free water; also the Ozzie Open is kind enough to let people bring in their own food to the grounds (although not sure if this has changed for 2013).
There are plenty of things to do on the grounds itself – the usual picnic, games for kids, and oddball tennis ball costumed-guy on stilts; but when Garnier used to be a sponsor, there was a 2-hour wait to get a facial on the tennis grounds!
Final note – when they shout “Aussie!” you say “Oi”, and they shout “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!” you reply with “Oi oi oi!”. It’s catchy; enjoy the games!