Five of the best days I spent in the city of Melbourne with my son on a footy trip that we
will both never forget.
Firstly, this trip was strictly an AFL footy trip, in our short stay in Melbourne. It is
the first time my oldest son and I have left mum and younger brother behind in
Western Australia to attend to our own selfish needs and watch our beloved
North Melbourne Kangaroos play a game at the magnificent Etihad Stadium.
We arrive on our Jetstar flight from Perth on the red eye at eight in the morning, we take
the airport sky bus to the city. We are tired, exhausted and in need for a
sleep but unfortunately we can’t check in until two in the afternoon and there
is still five hours to go before any rest. Our hotel The Great Southern Melbourne is close to Etihad Stadium so we fill the morning with a tour of the stadium that has the spectacular Docklands esplanade in the back ground. The tour itself is a sports fan dreams, you learn about its short history, it opened in the year 2000, walk around the function rooms, take a
peek in the corporate suites, sit in a coaches chair in the AFL coaches box, go
down in the rooms and walk the tunnel where the players run out and best yet
feel the turf of Etihad stadium under your very own feet. The tour was in-depth
and full on for two hours.
Finally after a quick stop at Krispy Kremes donuts we were able to check in at the
hotel, the hotel it self is located on Spencer Street nearly opposite of
Southern Cross train station, the hotel is one o c the cheaper ones in the city
but it does the job and the showers are warm. Fair to say an afternoon nap was
in order before heading out to the Crown Casino food court for a feed at dinner
time. While savouring the mighty Yarra River in the background, all lit up
thanks to the big city lights.
Friday, Day two.
To start the day its of on the tram for the first time and off to St Kilda, not before
buying a MiKi card at the local 7eleven first to get us on the tram, good thing
we did as the tram inspectors were out in full force. I’ve been to St Kilda
many times, I did actually grow up in Melbourne. But St Kilda never
disappoints, with the iconic Luna Park and the glorious Beach with a couple of
flashy restaurants right up close to the water. Take a walk down the pier or
even better head off to Port Melbourne that is only a stone throw away and have
a good look at the ferry Spirit of Tasmania. Breakfast was McDonalds, yeah
boring but its what the son wanted and its his trip too.
After St Kilda and a lengthy walk, its back on the tram back to the City, this time we
get off at Harbor Town shopping Centre, again in the Docklands precinct. Not
only a shopping centre but amusement centre with laser games and mini golf. It
is also the home of the controversy Big Wheel that got made and torn down again
before being rebuilt at least the second time they did it right.
Another short tram trip and its off to the famous Queen Victoria Market, it brought
back memories of my childhood, looking at busy markets with the produce and massive butchers section that is packed with shoppers looking for a good price on their meat. Then outdoors is the
massive shopping gallery, where there are many bags, toys, clothes and sporting
goods sold. And don’t forget to get your hot jam donuts from the van outside
the markets. Its always a treat.
Dinner was a pizza from a nearby pizza shop by the hotel on flinders street. Small store,
but great tasting pizza.
Saturday, Day three.
A football day, not a match but a trip to Melbourne is not the same if you don’t head over
to the spiritual home of the North Melbourne Football Club and watch the team
train. We catch the train from Southern Cross station to the next station over
at North Melbourne, a quick walk and we arrive at Arden St, the home of NMFC.
Growing up in Melbourne I use to live there, but a lot has changed, a major
upgrade in facilities and its all changed. Watching the players train and my
son getting autographs was a real buzz. But it only get better when we were
invited to have a tour of the facilities and get a feel for where the team has
its meetings in the Amphitheatre, get the rub downs, the coaches office,
another great experience for us both. Before leaving the ground we check out the Roo shop and have a kick on the lush Arden Street turf.
Next is a tram trip into the city centre, its just a casual walk through the big city, eating
lunch under the dome at the Melbourne shopping Centre, walking down flinders
street and by the iconic Flinders Street Station and back to the hotel.
Melbourne is a great city just to stretch your legs and check out the sites.
Sunday, Day four.
My tradition where ever I go around the world is to find a decent cappuccino shop and make
my way there for my caffeine fix and a daily newspaper, which comes free from
the hotel lobby. Normally me and my son have a light breakfast that doesn’t
break the bank.
Anyway its game day, the reason we have flown from Perth, ironically my team is playing a
team from Western Australia, the Fremantle Dockers, top of the ladder and a
hard task for north, but it’s a must win for my club as its win or bust whether
or not the club plays finals.
First of all it’s a walk past Etihad Stadium back over to Harbor Town, I meet up with my
brothers who liv Rd in Melbourne, we lunch by the Big Wheel have a mini shop mainly
at a sports store that sells North clothes and merchandise on the cheap. Then
its over to the Stadium for the game.
I wont get into the game too much as after all it is a travel diary but to cut a long
story short North Melbourne came from the clouds to steal a win. The trip was
not wasted and it was party mode. With my son being looked after a n ecstatic
friend and I headed over to the casino for a few beer celebration beers. The
Crown Casino is huge, lots of neat bars to drink, heaps of gaming areas for
those happy gamblers but we just stayed for the beer. Dinner again was at the
food court at the casino.
Monday, Day five.
Our last full day in Melbourne before heading back to Perth w a early on a Tuesday
morning. Obviously I grab a morning coffee and a newspaper to read about the
great win. Then its of to the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground for a tour of the
ground and a bit of fun at the sports museum. We take a three kilometre walk
from hotel to the ground, a beautiful walk by passing the casino and all along
the Yarra until we reach the MCG and walk over the bridge that has the sounds
of Australia’s indigenous people.
The tour is a lot like the Etihad tour but with a heck of a lot more history and the
stadium is a lot bigger, one-hundred-thousand capacity. We get to walk on the
turf, visit the change rooms and enter the pavilion where the cricketers sit
and wait to have a bat. Then we go to the members area, formally known as the
Melbourne Cricket Club, the MCC. Another lot of history and portraits of members, they also have the best view of the stadium. We also get to stand in the famous long room.
The tour finishes and its off to the Sports Museum, still at the MCG, it covers a rich history
of International and Australian sport, covering Olympics, cricket, motor sport,
and of course Australian Rules Football. Especially take time to view the
holograms of cricketing legend Shane Warne and football champ James Hird, it is
quite well done. The best part for the kids is the fun centre down stairs where
you can have a kick of the football, play hoops, have cycling races and a lot more
of the fun stuff.
After finishing up at the MCG it was o hike and tram ride to China town, another must
do in Melbourne. It was a late lunch and the restaurant name mistaken me but
all I know is that the food was average. Disappointing. A tram ride back to the
hotel and Krispy Kreme donuts finishes off the day on what truly was fantastic
trip with my son. I apologize for all the sports talk but this trip was exactly