7 oddball Aussie sporting events worth checking out
Darwin Beer Can Regatta, NT
Image: Tourism NT
This long running Darwin event first held in 1974 sees people sail ramshackle boats made from cans, plastic bottles and milk cartons. There’s also a sandcastle building competition, thong-throwing battle and treasure hunt just for kids. The best part is that the money raised on the day goes to a range of local charities. If you want to understand the Top End a little better, come along to this event beloved by locals.
YHAs nearby: Base yourself right in the thick of it at YHA Darwin on Mitchell Street.
Robertson Potato Festival, NSW
A festival dedicated to one of the world’s most versatile (and beloved) carbs, the Robertson Potato Festival has so much more going for it than spud eating. Located in potato farming country just over two hours south of Sydney, once you’ve had your fill of cooking demos and other foodie fun, get stuck into the potato-related sports comps on the agenda. If you’ve got a big appetite, enter the mash eating comp. If agility is more your thing, then the spud and spoon race is probably up your alley. Don’t miss watching the Hessians on the Field parade to see entrants modelling their homemade fashions crafted from potato sacks.
Abbey Medieval Festival, QLD
Image: © Inge Blessas | Dreamstime.com
You probably wouldn’t associate Turkish oil wrestling, sword fighting and archery with a trip to Queensland, but Caboolture’s Abbey Medieval Festival delivers all that and more. You don’t need to be a history buff to get a kick out of this friendly festival packed with kitted-out fans of the medieval period who travel from far and wide to take part. When else in your life would you get to watch groups of people in full armour swinging axes, swords and other medieval weapons of war? Go along and get in touch with a fun sub-culture that a growing number of Australians have started to embrace.
YHAs nearby: It's about an hour by car or train back to buzzing YHA Brisbane City, where there's more fun in store.
Mary Poppins Festival, QLD
If you’re wondering why a British literature and film character is celebrated by a town in regional Queensland, then you’re not alone. Turns out that PL Travers (the author of Mary Poppins) was born in Maryborough in 1899. Each year, the town comes alive with street performers and entertainment during the Mary Poppins Festival. Interestingly, this event manages to include a few highly unique Poppins-themed sporting pursuits in the mix, including a nanny race and chimney sweep challenge. Don’t miss taking a snap with the Mary Poppins statue on the corner of Kent and Richmond streets while you’re there.
YHAs nearby: Just a 25-minute drive from Maryborough, YHA Hervey Bay puts you in prime position to enjoy this endearing festival.
Chinchilla Melon Fest, QLD
Image: © Rafael Ben Ari | Dreamstime.com
This biennial festival’s tagline of ‘get your melon on’ encouragers visitors to head to the small rural town of Chinchilla to get excited about melons. The largest melon festival in the world, Chinchilla Melon Fest is a quintessentially Queensland event filled with sporty conquests. There’s melon skiing, melon chariot racing, celebrity melon eating and even a melon pip spitting event. While you’re there, be sure to check out The Big Melon on the Warrego Highway.
Sydney Skinny, NSW
If you’re a strong swimmer and feeling brave, then get your kit off and join more than a thousand other people taking part in this cheeky, nude swimming event. Held at Middle Head, Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Skinny is the world's largest annual nude swim. With a focus on joy, fun and acceptance, people of all ages, shapes and sizes take part in this unique fundraising event which celebrates the sense of freedom that comes with enjoying a sneaky naked swim! Of course it’s not for everyone, but if you choose to join in on the fun, you’ll have a ripping travel tale to tell your mates back home.
YHAs nearby: Stay super close to the action at YHA Sydney Harbour
Henley on Todd Regatta, NT
Image: Tourism NT/Imparja Creative
Held in Alice Springs, this boating regatta held without water has to be seen to be believed. Watch groups of people compete in human-powered boats that they run Fred Flintstone-style along the bone-dry bed of the Todd River. A fun community event always filled with memorable characters, you’re guaranteed a laugh a minute while attending this strange regatta like no other. The Henley on Todd Regatta is the Northern Territory at its very best!
YHAs nearby: Book a night or two at the YHA Alice Springs to stay a short stroll from the action.
Words: Jo Stewart
Love heading off the beaten track for events and festivals? Check out our guide to First Nations festivals around Australia
Sign up to YHA Australia
Get monthly inspiration for your next adventure in Australia.
Book direct and save
By booking direct with MyYHA you'll receive our exclusive discounted rates. Sign up or login to get 10% off at select properties.