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Brookvale Oval

Brookvale, NSW

Home of the North Harbour Rays

3.3

N/A

Brookvale Oval (map it)
Pittwater Rd
Brookvale, NSW 2100
Australia


North Harbour Rays website

Brookvale Oval website

Year Opened: 1911

Capacity: 23,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Brookie Rugby

Brookvale Oval was originally created as Brookvale Park in 1911. After many years of early use as a community recreation facility the ground gradually evolved into a football stadium following the creation of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (NRL) in 1947. Brookvale Oval is affectionately known as “Brookie” to the northern beaches locals and has a capacity of 23,000.

The North Harbour Rays are one of three Sydney franchises competing in the new National Rugby Championship (NRC) along with the Greater Sydney Rams and Sydney Stars, providing a third tier of professional rugby in Australia. The Rays comprise players from the four northern Sydney grade rugby clubs; Northern Suburbs, Gordon, Manly, and Warringah. Additionally, the Rays have sourced significant backing and input by securing Macquarie University as a major sponsor, and also boast former ARU CEO Gary Flowers as Chairman.

3.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

There is a food and beverage stand in the north western corner plus an outlet on the hill. Most of the usual food items are available; hot dogs ($5.20), meat pies ($5.20), sausage rolls ($5), chicken nuggets and chips ($11.50) and fish and chips ($13.90).

A slightly unusual item is butter chicken and rice ($11.50). Soft drinks are of the Coke variety. There are a number of alcoholic beverages on offer: Toohey's New full strength beer ($6.20), XXXX Gold mid-strength beer ($5.70), Hahn Light low strength beer ($5.20), wine ($6) and pre mixed spirits ($8.80).

Atmosphere    3

Brookvale Oval offers a mix of seating options. The largest of the three grandstands runs the length of the western side of the playing field and is known as the Jane Try Stand in recognition of a land donation in the early 20th century. The stand offers one level of elevated seating and as it faces the east, is shaded. There's also seating at ground level in front of the concourse. The players race runs through this concourse and on to the playing surface.

In the south western corner lies the Ken Arthurson Stand, named after the long-time Manly Sea Eagles administrator. The Fulton-Menzies Stand sits at the southern end of the ground, and honours the Fulton family (former player and later coach Bob, and two of his sons who also played for Manly) and Steve Menzies, the highest try scorer in Sea Eagles history.

The northern end and eastern side are dominated by several rows of bleacher style seating and a grass hill. Plenty of spectators take the opportunity to enjoy the sun and soak up the atmosphere in this area. There is a scoreboard that displays text only at the back of the northern hill.

The day we attended saw a curtain raiser between the emerging teams of the two clubs doing battle in the main game. There is a junior cheer squad celebrating when the Rays score. While the venue is very much dedicated to the presence of the Sea Eagles rugby league club and is in need of modernisation, it does offer a positive experience for rugby at this level.

Neighborhood    4

Brookvale is located towards the southern end of the northern beaches. The suburb has a large industrial presence but also boasts the largest shopping centre on the peninsula, Warringah Mall. The Mall offers plenty in the way of retail as well as a large food court and several café / restaurants. Manly Leagues Club (563 Pittwater Rd) is just down the road from the stadium, providing standard bistro food and several bars. However, to get the most out of your visit to the area, you really need to travel away from Brookvale.

The beaches themselves in this part of Sydney are amongst the very best Australia has to offer. The closest beach is North Curl Curl, but take your pick of any of the 21 patrolled beaches along this stretch of coastline. A few highlights to consider include Avalon (where an episode of the TV show Baywatch was filmed) and Palm Beach (where the Australian soap opera Home and Away is filmed) to the north; and Freshwater (look for the statue of Duke Kahanamoku who is said to have introduced surfing to Australia on the headland) and the world-famous Manly Beach to the south.

If you're looking for an extended night out, head down to Manly. Here you will find an abundance of pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels spread along The Corso and North Steyne. Some of the more popular pubs include The Steyne (75 The Corso), nicknamed "The Drain" amongst locals, the Ivanhoe (27 The Corso) and Manly Wharf Bar (21 East Esplanade). I'd also recommend the Manly Skiff Club (Stuart St) as a great place to enjoy a cold beer with a sensational view overlooking Manly Cove.

A little closer to Brookvale lies Dee Why where numerous cafes and restaurants line the beachfront, including my personal favourite, Sandbar (25 The Strand). In short, you're in one of the best areas of Sydney but you will need transport to make the most of it.

Fans    3

The Rays have been particularly successful in bringing together clubs that are in fact traditional rivals - Manly and Warringah, and Gordon and Norths. The Rays are attracting good crowds who are enjoying the chance to watch rugby at this time of year. There's certainly not much in the way of Rays merchandise floating around, but there is a sprinkling of club wear from the grassroots clubs involved in the venture. Attendance numbers are at this stage the best of the three Sydney-based clubs with almost 3,000 at the game we saw.

Access    3

The northern beaches suffer from poor public transport, traffic and a lack of parking. The only public transport offering a direct service to Brookvale Oval is bus. If you are making a day of it and come via the city then the ferry is certainly a good option, providing great views of the harbour and showcasing Sydney as a whole. However, you will then need to get the bus up to Brookvale. Car parking in the surrounding streets is free. You'll likely face a short walk but this is not a big issue. In terms of the facilities once inside, they are showing their age but they are easily adequate for this occasion.

Return on Investment    4

It's very affordable to see the Rays play with adult tickets priced at $15 and children under 16 years getting free entry. Additionally, students and pensioners can purchase a $10 ticket. Food prices are a bit high, but fairly standard for this setting and parking should be free. The standard of rugby and the overall experience rates well at this price point.

Extras    3

The Rays have been impressive in their ability to create a sense of unity amongst the four clubs involved in this venture. Their unique harlequin-style jersey links the clubs together and is also similar to a Combined High Schools representative team from the local area. Additionally, the name North Harbour is a throwback to the amateur era when a "North Harbour" representative team played "South Harbour" as a precursor to Sydney selection. Also of note is the view as you approach the stadium from Beacon Hill - Brookvale Oval in the foreground and the Pacific Ocean in the background.

Final Thoughts

Brookvale Oval may be lacking when it comes to NRL standards however it turns out to be a great venue for NRC rugby. The ground is in line for an upgrade with both the federal and state governments likely to assist with funding. The Rays have done well to engage the local community and rugby clubs, creating a good fan base and a positive game day experience in a great location. The previous incarnation of the Rays played out of Central Coast Stadium, but Brookvale looks like an inspired decision. Make a day of it and catch the Rays at Brookie.

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Local Food & Drink

Manly Leagues Club  (map it!)

563 Pittwater Rd

Brookvale, NSW 2100

+61 2 9939 6722

http://www.manlyleagues.com.au/

Manly Wharf Bar  (map it!)

21 E Esplanade

Manly, NSW 2095

+61 2 9977 1266

http://manlywharfhotel.com.au/

The Ivanhoe  (map it!)

27 The Corso

Manly, NSW 2095

+61 2 9976 3955

http://ivanhoehotelmanly.com.au/

Manly Skiff Club  (map it!)

Stuart St

Manly, NSW 2095

+61 2 9977 3322

http://www.manlyskiff.com.au/

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