As you fly into Adelaide, the flight path almost always takes you over the north west corner of the city. If you have chosen a window seat on the left side of the plane you will have a fantastic view over the city centre. There in the foreground, nestled in a sea of green, is the Adelaide Oval. It’s more than just a sports field though, and is worth checking out in it’s one right. Here is what you can look forward to when visiting Adelaide Oval.
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About Adelaide Oval
Adelaide Oval was first designated as a sporting ground in the parklands that surround the city centre in 1871, predominantly for use as a cricket ground. It is well respected in cricket circles for having a beautiful playing surface and has been regularly called one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world.
Over the years the grandstands around the oval were built, upgraded, renovated and changed until they became what they are today in 2014. There were three requirements though through all the redevelopments – the old scoreboard, Morton Bay Fig trees and the grassed area known as “the Hill” at the northern end of the oval had to be preserved.
Now it not only holds cricket matches, including one of the famous Ashes series when it’s being held in Australia, but it is now the home to AFL in Adelaide too. The Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power take turns calling the hallowed turf home. When they play each other, the stands thunder with the noise from more than 50 000 rabid football fans, and it is truely an awesome experience to feel the excitement and energy in this cauldron-like stadium.
While cricket and football are the two most popular and regular sports played at Adelaide Oval, it has been host to at least eighteen different sports in its lifetime, including exciting one off events such as a soccer game featuring Arsenal.
Things to do at Adelaide Oval
Adelaide Oval has become more than a sports ground though. Today there are a number of things that are available to do at the oval. Have a look at this list and include one of these on your Adelaide itinerary – just to say you’ve visited this magnificent stadium.
I know I said there was a lot more to do at Adelaide Oval than just watch sport, but since that is the reason it was built, it does need to be top of this list. Cricket runs over the summer, from around October to February. The state team, the Redbacks, use this as their home ground for their traditional four-day games and one-day games too. It is also when the Big Bash (20/20) league is played. If you are new to cricket, this is where you should start. This quick version of the game is over in about three hours and it is filled with atmosphere. There’s music and cheerleaders and fireworks – and the boys like to hit big and entertain the crowd.
The Australian cricket team play one test at Adelaide Oval each year, usually around the beginning of December. In recent years the tests have become twilight games, and it’s stunning watching a game as one of Adelaide’s beautiful sunsets takes place overhead. The Australian team also play one-day and 20/20 matches here each summer too.
Not to be outdone, the Aussie girls like to play at Adelaide Oval too. Look out for their games here too. Sometimes their 20/20 games will be played right before the boys, so come in early to take a look.
Watch Australian Rules Football
While cricket dominates the oval in summer, in winter it’s time for the football. Each weekend there will be a game at Adelaide Oval as the Crows and Power alternate their home games. As mentioned above, there is no better atmosphere anywhere when there are 50 000 screaming fans crammed into the stadium. I challenge anyone to watch a Port Adelaide game and listen to them playing “Never Tear Us Apart” before the opening bounce and NOT get chills down your spine! (Okay, maybe I’m biased, but it really is an awesome moment that anyone can appreciate)
Again, look out for the girls playing football too. Only in the last few years has there been a national women’s league, but it is growing in leaps and bounds and is often just as exciting as the men’s games. The women play earlier in the year than the men, so if you are visiting Adelaide before the AFL season starts, have a look to see if there are any AFLW games. Not all of them are played at Adelaide Oval though due to the cricket though.
Do a Stadium Tour
Tours of Adelaide Oval are offered around twice a day – the schedule can depend a little on events that are happening. It’s a ninety minute tour (although ours lasted closer to 2 hours) that takes you behind the scenes. We got to go into the visitors change rooms for both football and cricket, visit the media rooms, see function rooms, corporate boxes and some of the premium bars, admire collections of memorabilia and learn about the history of Adelaide Oval. We got to watch the Adelaide Crows training for the Showdown, and once they were finished we were able to go out onto the field ourselves.
My favourite part though was seeing the inside of the iconic scoreboard, that has been sharing the scores of whatever sport is on the oval reliably for 110 years. Even though there are electronic scoreboards around the ground, the old scoreboard is always a backup with volunteers manning the four levels required to keep it all updated. It really is a work of art to see how it all runs inside, just how they would have done it when it was first built.
The tour is great value for visitors and locals alike. It’s a good way to take a look at a venue we often visit but only see a small area of. For visitors you will get to enjoy this oval you see on tv and hear described as one of the best around. Take a look at the details, prices and times for your own tour.
Do the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb
Adelaide Oval’s favourite activity could perhaps be the roof climb. I have unfortunately not done it myself yet, but I am working on correcting that omission soon.
The Adelaide Oval Roof Climb takes participants up onto the roofline of the western and southern stands. If you choose to do one of the climbs during a game, then you will watch a portion of it from the seats that sit on the roof on the southern Riverbank Stand. You will enjoy sweeping views over the city and parklands, and perhaps even see one of the amazing sunsets. If you are game, you can test your nerves by leaning backwards and allowing the harness to hold you. Climbs can be done during the day, night or at sunset. Game day climbs are done at different times to suit the games. If climbing is not enough, you can also book a tour to indulge in some rooftop yoga while you are up there.
Visit the Bradman Museum
Sir Donald Bradman is regularly called the greatest cricketer of all time. He played in the 1920s & 30s, a shining light during the Great Depression. Even today his batting average of 99.94 has not been beaten. While he grew up in NSW, he moved to Adelaide towards the end of his career to escape the celebrity limelight in Sydney. He lived in Adelaide for the rest of his life.
Bradman was a prolific letter writer and memorabilia collector. During his life he donated a substantial amount to the State Library of South Australia. More items have been donated since his death. This collection has been loaned to the Bradman Museum at Adelaide Oval to create a museum as was Sir Donald’s wishes. Today, visitors can browse the collection for free, watching footage of the great games, testing your own skills with the interactive exhibits and admiring hundreds of pieces that make up the collection. It is open Monday – Saturday, 9am to 4pm.
Note – the Bradman Collection is the only area at the Adelaide Oval where photos are not allowed.
Enjoy a Concert or Event
Adelaide Oval is where all the big names come to hold their concerts in Adelaide, you know, those bands and artists who hold stadium tours around the world. I’ve seen Adele, Pearl Jam and Rolling Stones at the oval, just to name a few. Adele saw over 70 000 adoring fans pack into the oval, the largest crowd ever.
It’s not just those big concerts though. I have been to Adelaide Oval for kids sports, such as “Come and Try” days for cricket and football. There are also other events during the year, such as Stadium Stomp, a fitness challenge running up and down the stairs (no, I haven’t done that one!). There have also been events such as motocross or monster trucks in the stadium.
Sleep at the Oval Hotel
If you are attending Adelaide Oval for one of those special events, or just for a big football game or cricket match, why not splurge and make your travel easier by spending the night in the new Oval Hotel. Opened at the end of 2020, this is one of Adelaide’s new 5 star hotels. The bright, airy rooms have views over the parklands, so no laying in bed and watching the footy, but the restaurants and public spaces have views over the oval.
I’ve not had the opportunity to stay myself, but my daughter and other close friends have stayed, and they all loved it. I’ve even got one friend who loved it so much, that even as an Adelaide local, they have already stayed three times! I am looking forward to finding time in my schedule to try it out myself!
Eat at the Oval
You can just come to the Adelaide Oval for a meal. There are three different venues here to dine at.depending on time of day and how formal you would like it to be.
The options are:
- Five Regions Restaurant – in the Oval Hotel, fine dining focusing on found and wine from five wine regions surrounding Adelaide
- Bespoke Wine Bar & Kitchen – in the Oval Hotel, does meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is open all day for drinks, and has a “lounge” menu from midday onwards. Unfortunately does not have many vegan options
- Koffee Ink Cafe – located on the forecourt near the southern gates, this is the place for coffee and light meals.
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Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.