Like all great nations, Australia has a distinctive sports culture. For travelers coming from North America, this is especially true – basketball has a decent following Down Under, but baseball and ice hockey? They’re non-existent.
In their place, rugby and Aussie Rules Football have massive followings. If you’ve ever watched these matches on TV, you’ll know they deliver non-stop action. But as exciting as that is, they’re even better in-person.
That’s just a sample of what Australian sport has to offer. So, during a visit to Australia, which events should you attend? In this blog, we’ll share the ones that deliver drama, intensity, and excitement at every turn. Let’s get right into it.
The Australian Open
As The North freezes, Australia enjoys some of its best weather in January. And so there’s no better place for the first tennis major of the year. During the last two weeks (fortnight) of January, the best tennis players on Earth go head-to-head in a battle for glory and millions of Australian dollars.
Last year’s tournament saw Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Japan’s Naomi Osaka secure the men’s and women’s singles title respectively. These players are currently among the world’s elite, so if you’re a big tennis fan, you’ll be in for a treat.
Eager to attend? At present, organizers have scheduled the 2022 Australia Open for 17 January – 30 January.
It’s the horse race that literally stops a nation. For three minutes every year, Aussies abandon their work, studies, hobbies, and partners to take in the race for the Melbourne Cup. By the time the dust settles, the best three-year-old thoroughbred earns one of the world’s richest prizes.
It’s also a busy race for online betting sites. According to our sources, more than 221 million AUD was wagered on the Melbourne Cup race in 2020.
Since 1861, big prize pools have drawn the world’s best jockeys and their steeds. Last year, Twilight Payment galloped to victory, posting a brisk time of 3:17.34. For its efforts, the horse earned its team a prize worth 4.4 million AUD.
Want to be among the brilliantly dressed crowd at the Flemington Racecourse? In 2021, Melbourne Cup Day falls on Tuesday 2 November – so make your plans ASAP.
Australian Football League Finals
As field sports go, Australian Rules Football is in a class of its own. One oddity after another separates it from its cousins, football and rugby.
For starters, Australian football teams play on oval fields (similar in dimension to those used for cricket). Players can use any part of the body to move the ball, but if they choose to run with it, they must dribble the ball like a basketball. And to score, they must put the ball through an upright goal (similar to rugby).
For the uninitiated, these details can get confusing fast. But shortly after taking your seat, it won’t matter – the action on the field is fast, and scoring plays are frequent.
The AFL season runs from March to September, with the Finals Series running immediately after. You’ll find teams in every major city but act quickly, as available tickets can get snapped up fast.
Sample the Best of Aussie Sport Whilst Down Under
This is just a quick taste of the sports scene in Australia. We didn’t even get into The Ashes, a cricket series that moves between Australia and England every two years. When in doubt, befriend a sports-loving local and go to a match with them – it’ll be an experience you won’t soon forget!
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