The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘Brisbane

If they walk up the wall, we’ll place bets on them all

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It’s funny how the something we take for granted as an everyday part of Australian life is viewed by those unfamiliar with our lifestyle, but a friend’s reaction to the concept of camel racing – and betting on it – drove the reminder home last week.

“You’re going to race what?” she said with stunned confusion via Skype after I’d explained the concept of the Boulia Camel Races.

“So they’re like those feral camels you see in the desert and people actually ride them like horses?”

After I reiterated what the iconic event was all about and that there were also on-track bookmakers, she started laughing, shaking her head at the idea of wagering hard-earned money on the ships of the desert.

“Man, you Aussies will literally bet on anything,” she said with her thick New York accent.

Camels fly down the straight at Boulia Turf Club. Well, they’re going as fast as camels can. Source: travel.ninemsn.com.au

Her comments about Australians having a penchant for betting on anything that moved made me think, and after our conversation ended, I sat back and contemplated the gambling eccentricities of punters in this country.

That’s when it hit me.

We actually will bet on anything we can get odds on, including what are essentially feral pests.

It’s part of what makes Australia the unique country it is but when you consider what else we place wagers on, an annual punt on camel racing doesn’t even make the top three weirdest things to race and bet on.

I don’t know why, but Australians love to bet on pests.

In addition to camels, cane toad and cockroach racing round out the trifecta of animals-we-could-do-without that we’re happy to support with our wallets, as long as they’re racing and not invading our houses.

A cockroach gets its racing number before going head-to-head with a dozen other insects. Source: news.com.au

While the noxious cane toads are raced weekly in pubs from Cairns to Coolangatta, it’s the cockroaches that raise the eyebrows of most tourists when they witness them racing for the first time.

Perhaps the most iconic of all cockroach races in Australia is held every Australia Day in my old stomping ground of Brisbane, at the Story Bridge Hotel in Kangaroo Point.

According to a spokesman for the annual spectacle, the event “has had a long and distinguished history” that set the foundation for cockroach racing in Australia.

No, I’m not kidding.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried but it gets better: organisers fly in cockroaches for racing.

Yes, racing cockroaches apparently travel to compete, just like Black Caviar.

“We actually buy them [the cockroaches] and fly them up from Melbourne,” the spokesman said when I posed the question last week.

“It’s a huge event.”

If insects and feral animals aren’t your style, you can always bet on the lizard races in Eulo.

Feel like a seafood fix?

If so, crayfish racing may be your forte.

The first time I saw a crayfish race was on Magnetic Island in about 2004 and while the crustaceans are hardly the most enthralling

racers, they are certainly supported by spectators like they’re running in the Melbourne Cup.

Worse still, punters who decide to bet as well as splash out the $10 or $20 needed to purchase one of the ‘thoroughbreds’ act like they have just purchased Makybe Diva for $15,000.

The only difference is that, if your crayfish doesn’t perform well during the race, you can always commiserate eating with a little bit of garlic butter and a cold beer.

I spoke to my friend in New York again last night and after I rattled off the list of amphibians, insects and crustaceans Australians regularly bet on, she burst out laughing and said it proved her point.

“Do you guys just look at random animals and decide to catch them, race them and bet on them?” she queried.

Who said horses and greyhounds were the only animals you could bet on?

Australia’s love of a punt is evident in the crazy things we race and wager on but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, if you are betting on something ridiculous – including the proverbial flies on the wall – in Australia this weekend, take a moment to reflect on how unique what you are doing is as you put your betting slip into your wallet.

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Why a sport’s origin shouldn’t restrict its future

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With the opening State of Origin clash only 12 days away, I thought it was time to inject a blue and maroon theme into this column.

Should rugby league’s most revered contest be played in Melbourne, or is that tantamount to sporting sacrilege?

Most diehard Queensland and New South Wales supporters will tell you that Melbourne can “get stuffed” and keep its own football code when the subject of which cities should host the three matches is broached.

In fact, three Mount Isa rugby league fans gave almost verbatim responses this week when I posed the question about State of Origin in Melbourne.

Fan one: “You’re f—— kidding, aren’t you? They [Melbourne] already have aerial ping-pong down there; why should they get our game, too?”

Fan two: “It’s rubbish. The games are between us and New South Wales.”

Fan three: “It’s Queensland versus New South Wales. The games should be kept in those states.”

Unfortunately for the fans, the decision to play a State of Origin game in Melbourne isn’t one based on state pride.

As with all things in professional sport, the decision was based on economics.

State of Origin crowds at Suncorp Stadium are always passionate, but we can’t restrict the Queensland v New South Wales battles to just Brisbane and Sydney if the game is to grow in the 21st century. Source: couriermail.com.au

That, and the ongoing exposure and development of rugby league outside of the game’s spiritual home and holiday house in Brisbane and Sydney.

A huge – and very profitable – rugby league market is emerging in Melbourne, and the powers that be are planning taking advantage of that.

It’s incredibly unlikely the people making the decisions will be swayed by the heartfelt pleas and sky blue and maroon-tinged anti-Melbourne arguments of fans who remember the first game in 1980.

When players run onto Etihad Stadium on May 23, they will do so in front of more than 60,000 screaming fans keen to witness rugby league’s greatest spectacle.

That’s good for the sport, and good for the coffers of everyone involved.

Besides, why shouldn’t Melbourne host a game?

We can’t restrict a competition that spruiks itself as the National Rugby League to just two states, even if we are talking about a contest played between just them.

The lone Victorian-based NRL team, the Melbourne Storm, has been one of the dominant teams in the competition in the past few seasons.

They are undefeated after nine rounds in 2012.

The team’s three biggest stars – Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk – will all pull on the Maroon jersey 12 days from now, and are referred to as “our boys” by most Queenslanders.

With that in mind, isn’t it a little hypocritical to suggest Melbourne isn’t entitled to one State of Origin game each year?

Former Brisbane Bronco and Queensland player Ben Ikin is a firm believer in the fact Melbourne – and eventually, the rest of Australia – needs more exposure to the game.

In his column in the Brisbane Times this week he said, “As much as we’d like to, we can’t keep State of Origin all to ourselves.”

Ikin suggests that the first and second game in each series should be played in Brisbane and Sydney, with the third going to Melbourne, but he ventures further by saying other Australian cities should eventually host matches.

“When we determine the Melbourne rugby league market has reached its target maturation, we look for our next area of growth and send State of Origin there for however long we need to,” he said.

Ikin makes a strong point: if the game is going to continue to go from strength to strength in Australia against fierce competition from the AFL, soccer and rugby union, it can’t just be seen as the game of cockroaches and cane toads.

State of Origin is all about where the game has come from, but for it to prosper, we need to take a moment to look at where it’s heading.

This photograph of New South Wales player Terry Hill nose-to-nose with Queensland’s Gorden Tallis is one of the sport’s most iconic images, but State of Origin is now bigger than just the sky blue and maroon jerseys. Source: heraldsun.com.au

Chivalry, a dirty nappy and the peak hour traveller that wasn’t happy

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I’ve guest written a piece today for Magnificent Nose entitled ”Chivalry and the Shifting Goal Posts”. Funnily enough, it’s about chivalry, but it’s also got an angry woman on a bus and a sentence that concludes with “makeshift nappy for an infant with explosive diarrhoea.” How can you not be intrigued?

To tempt you with the toxic fruit of my mind, here’s a little glimpse behind the curtain:

No one wants to watch the early morning news story about an overnight murder and have to ask themselves, “Was that dismembered corpse floating in the river my date?” Gentlemen, nothing makes a more negative impression on your potential bed mate than her getting mugged while walking home alone, purely because you were too lazy to accompany her for the 600m journey back to her apartment. The only thing that will make this worse is if you refused to do so because the pub was still serving $5 pints, or because you wanted to see what happened in extra time. Should you do so, the only time you will ever see her again is if you catch her slashing your tyres or setting fire to your mailbox.

I know you want to keep reading this article, so click here to jump across to Magnificent Nose; if you don’t, they will beat me and I’ll cry like a 2-year-old girl. You really, really don’t want to see me crying and throwing a hissy fit.

Source of original photograph: honeyhype.com