“This stadium has seen a lot of history. Many visitors to Melbourne, even if they’re not sports fans, will come just to see the grandeur of the place.”
Paul Wilhelm has been a member of Melbourne Cricket Club, which manages the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), for nearly 60 years and reckons he has spent thousands of hours inside the iconic venue. Yet the retired teacher still finds ‘The ‘G’ as mesmerising as he did when he was a boy. “I love the place,” he says. “I’m in awe of it. I never forget what a privilege it is to be a member.”
Since 2008, Paul has been conducting guided tours of the ground and sharing his knowledge of the venue with an “amazing cross-section” of visitors, from local train drivers to Indian honeymooners. “Many sports lovers have a bucket list of things they want to tick off, and seeing The ‘G is one of them,” he says.
Standard tours of the 100,000-capacity ground run daily and give visitors access to behind-the-scenes areas such as the change rooms and media centre. There’s also an opportunity to take a seat on the cricketers’ viewing balcony, where the teams sit when they are not playing on field.
But only those who book the extended MCG Private Tour experience have the chance to follow in the footsteps of sporting greats and walk out onto the hallowed turf. “There’s quite a sense of wonder when you’re out there on the ground, surrounded by 100,000 seats,” says Paul. “You’re standing on the turf where so many amazing – and often controversial – things have happened.”
Cultural Attractions of Australia is pleased to present this series of the stories behind the storytellers who have enriched the experiences of countless visitors to our iconic attractions whilst their doors are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.