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Top 10 Things to Do in Australia
Held every February, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras has grown to be the biggest of its type in the world. A million people line Sydney’s streets to see the parade. The event began in 1978 with a parade of 1000 people marking International Gay Solidarity Day. The whole thing involves thousands of performers. Religious types are ever resentful of the wanton sexuality but are generally seen as part of the lunatic fringe during this miasma of colour.
There aren’t many race meetings in the world where most spectators arrive by light plane but the Birdsville Races in Far Western Queensland are one. The town of Birdsville has limited accommodation for the event – the population outside race day is about 200 – so people bring camping equipment. The horses are generally average performers but for a glimpse at what Australians get up to in remote areas - the event is held close to the Queensland, NSW and NT border.
Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race
Boxing Day each year sees Australians give their annual yacht racing, when thousands of spectators cram every vantage point on Sydney Harbour to see the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. The harbour becomes a mass of colour as the spectator craft jostle with official craft, all in the hope of seeing large boats with colourful sails nick off out through the heads and begin the journey down to Tasmania.
Dubbed ‘The race that stops a nation’, The Melbourne Cup does just that. A 2:50pm on the first Tuesday in November, the whole country downs tools and tunes in. There are meetings everywhere, from Kalgoorlie to Cairns, any of which would be an excellent place to gauge the nation’s obsession with gambling. Australians go mad for ‘The Cup’, everyone becomes an expert and sweepstakes are held in offices, pubs, clubs, classrooms and parliament houses around the country.
ANZAC was the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th of April, 1915. For the fledgling nation of Australia it’s first test was Gallipoli. The battle ended in glorious defeat but the courage shown by men running at certain death is honoured on this day every year. All Australian towns and cities pay their respects to these soldiers and those who fought after them with dawn services, marches, and games of two-up.
Invented circa 1850 to keep cricketers fit in winter, Aussie Rules is a hybrid of rugby. The game is played on an oval-shaped, polo field-sized ground between two teams of 18 players each. The idea is to kick the ball through two upright poles and earn six points. Miss and you get one point, or miss so badly the ball misses the smaller of the adjacent posts and you get zero. Crowds often reach 100,000.
What do you do if you’re in Alice Springs, 1500km from the nearest water and you want to have a boat race? Well, you have a boat race. Every September normally normal people gather in Alice to crew boats in a river with no water. Calling themselves Vikings and pirates many of these vessels are armed with mortars and high pressure water cannons.
The Summernats held in the city of Canberra in early January. ‘Australia’s Biggest Horsepower Party’. There’s chrome, noise, beer, heat, engines, beer and, of course, more wet T-Shirt competitions. What’s arguably the best thing about the ‘Nats is checking out those that proudly call themselves rev-heads, generally men in their early 20s whose mothers probably love them.
Tropfest Film Festival
Tropfest is the world's largest short film festival and is held one night in February each year in Sydney's Domain, Royal Botanic Gardens and cafes on Victoria Street, Darlinghurst. Tropfest also screens nationally in Australia's capital cities. The aim is to ‘showcase the work of emerging filmmakers and to give them the opportunity to screen their films for their peers in a festive environment’.