Ultimate guide to nailing a day at the Australian Open

Living Well | RACV | Posted on 14 January 2020

Grand slam guide: How to ace a day at the Australian Open 2020.

The Australian Open hits town from 20 January to 2 February, and there are many changes in store for the much-loved event that showcases our city to thousands of international visitors and a worldwide TV audience of millions. The event will extend from Federation Square to Richmond Station, with festival favourites including the Ballpark, Grand Slam Oval and Garden Square set to be bigger and better than ever. There is also a stellar line-up of music on the AO Live Stage (opening with a bushfire benefit concert), fine food from some of the city’s top restaurants and chefs and, of course, the world’s best tennis players battling it out across multiple courts.  

With so much to do and see beyond the action on court, how can you survive a long day or evening at the Open? Whether it’s your first visit or you’re a seasoned AO veteran, here’s how to ace a day at the country’s richest tennis tournament, plus tournament director Craig Tiley’s top tips for making the most of your visit. 

Aerial view of Rod Laver arena crowds during Australian Open finals match


Your ultimate guide to the Australian Open 2020



When is the Australian Open?

The Australian Open runs for 15 days from 20 January to 2 February.  

How do I get there? 

By car 

If you are planning on driving, the Yarra Park Car Park, accessible via Gate 3 off Punt Road, is the closest. Parking costs $10 (cash), with all money invested into upkeep of the park. You can find metered parking along the Yarra River on Alexandra Avenue and around the Royal Botanic Gardens on Birdwood and Linlithgow avenues. There are also secure parking facilities in the CBD and on Southbank. 

Wilson Parking
11 Exhibition Street
28 Flinders Street
32 Flinders Street
172 Flinders Street
Federation Square

Southgate Car Park
Eureka Car Park

Federation Square
202 Flinders Lane

Le Garage
114 Flinders Street

Train 

One of the easiest ways to get to the Australian Open is by train. Melbourne Park is just a short walk from either Richmond, Jolimont or Flinders Street stations. The last train services will depart Flinders Street Station at midnight during the week, and hourly from midnight on weekends.  

Note that due to Metro Tunnel works during January, buses will replace trains on the Frankston, Cranbourne and Pakenham lines between Flinders Street and Caulfield stations. The Sandringham line will also have buses replacing trains after 8.15pm from 20 to 23 January. 

Tram

Australian Open ticket holders can travel free on the Route 70 tram from the CBD to Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne Arena (Melbourne and Olympic Parks) tram stops from Monday 20 January to Sunday 2 February. There is also an AO shuttle, which runs between Fed Square and Melbourne Arena, with trams every two to three minutes.

Need help planning your journey, or finding the nearest car park? Download RACV’s arevo journey planner app for real-time public transport information, traffic updates and even closest parking locations. 

Which entrance should I use?

There are five main entrances to the Australian Open

  • City Entrance: Closest to the city, Flinders Street station and the Birrarung Marr precinct. If walking, access via Tanderrum Bridge.
  • Garden Square Entrance: Access by foot, tram or rideshare.
  • Grand Slam Oval: Closest to bike parking and pick-up/drop-off points for taxis, water taxis, and public and chartered buses.
  • Eastern Plaza Entrance: Closest to the Yarra Car Park and new Practice Village.
  • Richmond Entrance: Closest to Richmond Station and a short walk to the new Practice Village.

How much are tickets? 

Tickets start from $54 for a Ground Pass ($5 for children aged three to 14), with stadium seats starting from $72 for Margaret Court Arena. Expect to pay upwards of $300 for stadium seats during finals rounds and book early to avoid disappointment; many sessions are already selling out.

Where can I buy Australian Open 2020 tickets? 

Tickets are available online through ticketmaster.com.au/ausopen and through Ticketmaster retailers.

What does a ground pass ticket get you? 

This access-(almost)-all-areas ticket gets you into all outdoor courts (including Melbourne Arena), the AO Live Stage, AO Ballpark and all-new Practice Village, as well as entry to myriad bars and dining options where you can soak up the sun, the sport and the festival atmosphere. If you want to see a game at Margaret Court or Rod Laver Arena, you will need to buy Stadium tickets separately.   


Which are the best days to go?  

The first two to three days of the tournament are always the best if you have a Ground Pass as players haven’t yet been knocked out so this is when the most matches take place. Make the most of your ticket by studying the schedule and working out which matches you want to watch and what other activities you’re keen on.    

How can I get reserved seating?  

If you want to get into key games or to see specific matches, you’ll need to buy a Stadium ticket. Stadium tickets will ensure you have reserved seating at either Rod Laver, Margaret Court or Melbourne Arenas so you can come and go as you please. Stadium tickets are sold as either day sessions or night sessions. If you purchase a day session, you can stay and watch tennis in the outdoor courts after 5pm. Night ticket holders cannot access the grounds before 5pm.   

Stadium tickets also act as a ground pass, allowing access to all outside courts (including Melbourne Arena), as well as the AO Live Stage, Ballpark, Practice Village and other entertainment across Grand Slam Oval, Garden Square and the wider Melbourne and Olympic Park precinct.  

I really want to see *insert fave tennis ace here*. How will I know who is playing when?  

Being an elimination event, it is impossible to know in advance who will be playing in which rounds and on which days. The schedule for each day will be posted at ausopen.com the night prior. Depending on who’s playing, the big names will generally play on the stadium courts, and the best blockbuster matches are most likely to be held in the evening.  

When is the AO tournament draw? 

The Australian Open draw will take place on Thursday 16 January at 6pm. Visit ausopen.com/draws for all the latest scheduling and event information.

Will I be able to meet tennis players or get their autographs?  

Players usually have practice sessions on the outdoor courts during the day so, if you’re lucky, this is your best bet of getting a #grandslamselfie or meeting your tennis idols. Practice sessions will take place on Rod Laver Arena between 9.30am and 2.30pm, or you can try your luck at the new Player Practice Village outside the National Tennis Centre between 8.30am and 4pm. Players also do signings during the day at Garden Square. As always, it’s very much the luck of the draw.  

Is the Australian Open good for kids? 

The Open is a great day out for the whole family. Families with younger kids will love the AO Ballpark – where they’ll get their serve of rock climbing, water fountains, zipline, giant sandcastles, stage shows, Lego adventures, Kia Junior Drive and more. If your kids are over 10, there’s the AO Hilltop, which boasts tween-friendly activities including karaoke, movies, a splash park and the Skyflyer Ride. Parents can also book kids into the AO Kids Club for a full day, half day or date night, and let them have a Grand Slam experience while you enjoy all the Grand Slam action. And if you’re looking for ways to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays, don’t forget about the Kids Tennis Day on 18 January and AO Tennis Camps, which run Monday to Friday from 20 to 28 January. 

There are also change facilities, parents’ rooms (with microwaves, change tables and comfy chairs for feeding) and pram parking around the grounds to help make your day out as seamless as possible.

What about live entertainment? 

Dance the day (or night) away to some of the country’s hottest musicians when you buy a ground pass. Over 14 nights, the AO Live Stage will host big-name artists including Hayden James, Thelma Plum, Billy Idol, Bastille, Fatboy Slim, Matt Corby and Kate Miller-Heidke. The AO 2020 will also kick off with a Bushfire Relief concert, headlined by Jessica Mauboy, to raise money for the Red Cross bushfire appeal.  

For the full line-up, visit ausopen.com/ao-live-stage

What food and drink will be available at the AO? 

The food and drink offering at the Australian Open just keeps getting better with fine fare from some of the city’s culinary standouts, including Hellenic Republic, Willy’s Chicken, 400 Gradi, Rockpool, Royale Brothers and Mr Miyagi to name a few.

Those wanting a more intimate gourmet experience can book in for the AO Chef Series. Held at The Glasshouse, this year’s feast features four bespoke experiences designed by some of the world’s leading female chefs. Treat yourself to a Thai degustation menu by Duangporn (Bo) Songvisava from Michelin-starred restaurant Bo.lan in Bangkok, indulge with former MasterChef contestant turned restaurateur Sarah Todd, meet and eat with Australia’s own culinary icon Donna Hay or indulge in a feast created by Annaliese Gregory, from two-hatted Hobart restaurant Franklin. 

The Australian Open also offers a range of premium hospitality experiences, including dining on court and exclusive finals dinners at some of Melbourne’s premier restaurants. 

Crowds watching live music on outdoor stage at Australian Open
People sitting in fold-out chairs watching tennis on big screen outdoors

The AO Live Stage and Garden Square are fan favourites at the Australian Open tennis festival. 



Craig Tiley’s top tips for making the most of the AO festival 

What to bring 

A hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are a must. If you forget your sunscreen, there are sunscreen stations around Melbourne Park precinct where you can slip, slop and slap. “Buy a Daily Draw sheet when you arrive and download the official Australian Open app,” says Craig.   

How to stay cool

There are free water stations around Melbourne Park and plenty of shady areas, including the AO Live Stage at Birrarung Marr. “There are also lots of shade structures that we construct all over Melbourne Park to make it comfortable,” says Craig. Avoid getting dehydrated by drinking water throughout the day and refilling your water bottle every time you pass a water station.   

What to do during a match

Most seats in Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Melbourne Arena are shaded. Those three stadiums also have roofs, so if the heat rule (made at the match referee’s discretion) comes into play, they’ll be closed to cool things down. “In between watching matches, go for a walk outside. The outside courts have lots of shade to create a very fan-friendly experience,” says Craig.   

Keeping the kids entertained

Head to the Ballpark – it’s like an amusement park for kids at Birrarung Marr. “There are rides, tennis activations and other activities to keep the kids occupied,” says Craig. “We also offer childcare services which we think are a first for a major sporting event.” The annual Kids Tennis Day is held the Saturday before the tournament starts (this year it’s 18 January). Watch your favourite players practise, check out the AO Ballpark and live entertainment at the Live Stage and Garden Square, and Tennis Hot Shots lets the kids try tennis with smaller nets, racquets and low-compression balls. Kids Tennis Day tickets are $5 for kids and $10 for adults.  

What to eat and drink at the AO

Many food venues at the Open are focusing on fresh, healthy options. “The days are gone when all you could get at the tennis was a hotdog, pie or chips,” says Craig. “Grand Slam Oval has some great fresh food and Rod Laver Arena also has lots of healthy options.” Food stations with different cuisines to suit all budgets are located around Melbourne Park. Want to experience the tennis without breaking the budget? You can also bring your own food and drinks, but note that eskies, hampers and containers bigger than 1.5 litres are not allowed. Food and drinks in glass, cans or ceramic containers are also not permitted.   

When you need a quiet moment

More than 796,000 tennis fans attended last year’s Australian Open, so expect the precinct to be busy. “But there are many quiet spots,” says Craig. “Take a walk around the precinct and find a shady spot when you want some quiet. You don’t have to hang around the big show courts all the time – the outside courts are worth a look, especially later at night on weekend one, and during week two when they can be more peaceful.” And slow the pace by finding a seat at Grand Slam Oval and relaxing while you people watch.   

The Australian Open 2020 will be at Melbourne Park from 20 January to 2 February. Visit: ausopen.com  

PLAN YOUR JOURNEY

Rally the troops and get ready for a day of fun at the Australian Open. Whether you plan on driving, catching public transport or using rideshare, RACV’s arevo app can help simplify your trip. From topping up your myki before you leave to helping you navigate public transport disruptions, traffic delays and even finding a parking spot, arevo is your go-to pocket planner for fuss-free travel.