Australia playing test cricket in Bloemfontein 2026 would be a rarity of extreme definition by virtue of Australia never having donned the creams in Free State Province.
Australia has played at Mangaung Oval, smack in the heart of Bloemfontein (flower fountain/spring), so venturing to the geographic heart of South Africa is nothing new to us.
We followed the Australian Cricket Tour to South Africa 1997 and saw the 7th and final ODI in 'Bloem'. South Africa piled on 310 before routing Australia for 201, who had one foot on the plane after a whopping 7 tour/warm-up games, 3 Test Matches, and 7 ODI's, played from Feb 13 to April 13.
Oh to have tours like that again!
We lost that ODI but got our revenge 5 years later during the Australian Cricket Tour to South Africa 2002 defending 290 against South Africa in the 4th ODI.
It has been a while since we visited Bloemfontein, and there's not reason we can't or won't again on the Australian Cricket Tour to South Africa 2026.
Having visited Bloem 4 times, we know it is a great place, with a firey, parochial, sporting mad community. You only have to look at the Rugby Stadium next door towing over Mangaung Oval to know the locals take their sport seriously here.
Centred around Naval Hill (named after the two naval canons that were brought in by the British to fight in the second Boer War of 1899), on which sits a giant bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, Bloem is only 12km wide (within the ring road).
Naval Hill has a popular 5km walking/running trail and forms part of the Franklin Game Reserve. As the reserve is home to non-predatory wildlife, you can 'run with the giraffe', if they care to join you.
A public fun run happens every Saturday morning, so you can get your heart pumping before breaky, before walking a lowly 1.4km to the cricket, where lounging on the embankments will be our preferred vantage.
Grandstand seats will be also be available.
Like walking to the cricket, when you land at Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein you may need to make your own way to the hotel. Bloemfontein is small, with limited daily flights, so we may include airport transfers if most of us take the same flight. This will be confirmed once we know the schedule.
Australia played 2 ODI's in Bloem in 2023, so it could be that we return for the short-form game only, of which three are scheduled.
We love to get about and visit different cities for diversity, yet by the same token we'd love all 3 games to be played in the one city, to save the travel, and allow more time to embrace where we are.
We wouldn't be displeased investing a week in Bloem, which is, for our trivia buffs, the birthplace in 1892 of one John Ronald Reuel Tolkein, author of fantasy novels Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Having previously lived on Naval Hill, which affords nice views over the city, aside a cricket stadium, rugby stadium, and our preferred bowling club, the primary features of Bloem are King's Park Rose Garden, Loch Logan, and the Loch Logan Waterfront.
With an annual Rose Festival, and the beautiful city centre garden, it's no wonder Bloemfontein's moniker is 'City of Roses'.
This burst of colour in October (when we will be there!) marries well with the vibrancy of at night along nearby 2nd Avenue.
Famed for eateries and bars, so too those of Loch Logan Waterfront, 2nd Avenue and it's lively side streets are the place to enjoy Australian Cricket in Bloemfontein, win or not!