Melbourne was established in 1835 and extends along the Yarra River towards the Yarra Valley. It is the capital of the state of Victoria. The city was changed by the discovery of gold in 1851, which led to it overtaking Sydney as Australia's most populated city and at one stage becoming the richest city in the world before the Australian economic depression of the last 1800's. It became Australia's manufacturing centre during World War II but is now perhaps better known for the arts, including being the location for many films. It is an international cultural centre with over 100 galleries but perhaps most importantly of all, the popular television show Neighbours was produced in the city. The weather in Melbourne is known to be unpredictable, leading to the phrase 'all four seasons in one day'.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is the largest stadium in Australia - the Great Southern Stand, which was completed in 1992, holds around 50,000 people on its own. 'The G' was built in 1853 and staged the very first Test match and one-day international, England being the opponents on both occasions. It has held crowds of over 100,000 and is historically used for Australia's Test fixture on Boxing Day. However it is also a historic venue for Australian rules football and stages the AFL Grand Final in September. It has also been used for football, both codes of rugby as well as the 1956 summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Outside of the ground is the Parade of Champions, which has statues of some of Australia's most famous sportsmen and women.
For starters, the MCG has used "drop-in wickets" since 1996 that are grown off-site and then moved into place using huge cranes. The system allows the venue to stage so many differing events in such a short period of time, while the Aussie rules season does not have to worry about trampling over a cricket square during the winter. It turns out the drop-in decks aren't much different to the old ones; don't expect too much pace or bounce. The weather, though, can aid the seamers as cloud cover will get the new ball swinging around. It's also notable that the MCG sees plenty of all-run fours due to the sheer size of the outfield.
The 'G' as it is affectionately referred to be locals, has played most to many famous moments during its 54 Ashes Tests. Shane Warne enjoyed plenty of fond memories at the ground, not least his hat-trick in '94, where Phil DeFreitas, Darren Gough and Devon Malcolm all departed in one fell swoop. Warne also claimed his 700th Test wicket at the ground, one Andrew Strauss, but England claimed bragging rights last time out, clinching a famous series victory on the fourth day following a innings and 157-run demolition.