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Adelaide Oval Tour

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by Vivienne Pearson (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, fortunate enough to live near Byron Bay, one of Australia's most beautiful regions. My writing - for newspapers, magazines, online and for business - lives at vivienne pearson.com
Published March 24th 2018
Not just for sports fans - Adelaide Oval tour
Not being the biggest sports fan, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I totally enjoyed a tour of the Adelaide Oval.

The tour is about sport but it is also about history, architecture, events, Adelaide and Australia. The tour captures a real sense of occasion - all the way from the introductory video, shown on a huge screen, to the opportunity to go in and see the inner workings of the historic scoreboard.

Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, sport, cricket, AFL, tour, behind the scenes, scoreboard
Adelaide Oval is accessible via the footbridge from the city - Credit Vivienne Pearson


The tour takes around 1.5 hours and involves a lot of walking. As the Oval is used for more than just sport - I visited during the pack up from an Ed Sheeran concert - you'll see slightly different things with each tour.

In summer, there is more focus on cricket and in winter, there is a greater AFL component to the tour.

The tour guides, all volunteers, know the Oval in great detail and are knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and great at sharing inside info. I was taken around by Colleen, who added a personal touch by including a story about her connection to a footballer of old.

The Adelaide Oval was built in 1871 and is named differently to other Australian sports stadiums in that it is neither a 'Cricket Ground' (like the MCG, SCG etc), nor carries a sponsor name (like Ethiad Stadium etc). This is because it was built with funds donated by an English gentleman who wanted it named after 'The Oval' in Sussex.

The Oval was renovated in the years leading up to 2014 - partly with the aim of making it the new home of AFL in Adelaide. A superb job of combining the old and new was achieved, with the old, manual scoreboard, retained in active use and art deco features combined with modern sports stadium architecture.

Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, sport, cricket, AFL, tour, behind the scenes, scoreboard
Architectural blend of old and new - credit Vivienne Pearson


A few of the highlights for me of the tour (and you will no doubt find many more) were:

* The big screen video showing the breadth of events that happen at the oval - not just cricket and AFL but music, athletics and monster trucks!

* Going behind-the-scenes to the player areas, such as getting to sit in the visitor cricket team change rooms (surprisingly small and stark).

* Walking up the 'race' from the change rooms to the ground, accompanied by the 'roar of the crowd'! You don't need to be a huge sports fanatic to appreciate the intensity of such a moment.

Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, sport, cricket, AFL, tour, behind the scenes, scoreboard
Walking up the race to the ground - Credit Vivienne Pearson


* Seeing the largest single-span roof in the Southern Hemisphere.

* Pretending to be a press journalist in the media centre.

Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, sport, cricket, AFL, tour, behind the scenes, scoreboard
View from the press media centre - credit Vivienne Pearson


* Finding out that one of Adelaide's top restaurants is located in the stadium (Hill of Grace)

And, the ultimate highlight was going inside the heritage listed wood and corrugated iron scoreboard. Offering a summary of an entire game (not just the current score), it is hand operated via levers, pulleys and slip-in letters.

Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, sport, cricket, AFL, tour, behind the scenes, scoreboard
Our guide demonstrates the inner workings of the historic scoreboard - Credit Vivienne Pearson


Whether you are a local sports fan or a visitor interested in any aspect of sport, history, culture, architecture or simply Adelaide, book in (bookings are essential) for a tour of the Adelaide Oval.

Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, sport, cricket, AFL, tour, behind the scenes, scoreboard
Get up close and personal with the hallowed turf at the Adelaide Oval - credit Vivienne Pearson

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Why? Get up-close and behind-the-scenes at the Adelaide Oval
When: Daily except some public holidays and event days
Phone: (08) 8205 4700
Where: South Gate entrance of the Riverbank Stand, off War Memorial Drive, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Cost: $14-24
Your Comment
Great information, thanks. I keep meaning to book a tour, so this has encouraged me to get on it!!
by Gill Lockhart (score: 1|19) 208 days ago
Get onto it Gill - I've just started working as a volunteer guide, and I reckon they're pretty good fun! BJ
by Bernhard Sayer (score: 1|18) 149 days ago
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