A relationship between Australia and water is a match made in Heaven, and it provides for a variety of amazing wonders (and an infinite amount of more routine ones). A rich and, therefore, an extremely tempting vein for a storyteller. That said, all good things come, or must be brought, to an end - and it's time to steer the blog in a different direction by briefly exploring one final facet of aquatic Australia: its contribution to the country's image as a sports power.
While sports might have started as a mere entertainment a couple of centuries ago, it turned into a social, cultural and political phenomenon short thereafter - and has remained exactly that ever since. There are a few extremely popular sports (like soccer/football) millions all around the world are passionate about. Many countries get emotional when it comes to one particular sport they feel they own, because they are exceptionally good at it (like Canada at ice hockey, or New Zealand at rugby). There is a unique case of Ireland where traditional Gaelic sports became part of that country's cultural identity… Australia hasn't really “owned” any sport but it has always been swimming that country came the closest to pulling it off at - and finally did so in 2023 by besting the previously invincible Americans. Based on that consistency, as well as their relatively strong performances at other aquatic sports, Australians could claim aquatics as part of their own cultural identity if they wanted to (their case would probably still be somewhat weaker than that of the Irish). However, they don't really need to because they can make a different - and a much stronger - claim: sports and competitiveness, in general, is the be-all and end-all of Australia's collective DNA! The country isn't passionate about a particular sport but rather about the concept of sports as such.
If there is any particular gene responsible for that unique mindset, it must have something to do with the fact that Australia started as a penal colony: survival was a daily necessity, not just a theoretical consideration - and one had to compete as hard as humanly possible, just to survive. By the time things improved, the majority of the newly formed country must have gotten used to that outlook - and maybe learned to appreciate the energy it brought with it, because tapping into that energy could prove to be the shortest path towards finding one's self-fulfillment. In a prosperous and peaceful society, the most natural outlet for competitiveness is sport - and, in Australia, it shows big time. Both literally
There are 195 countries in the world, and only 4 of them host a Grand Slam tournament in tennis. Australia is among them. Only two countries will have ever hosted 3 or more Summer Olympics in different cities - once again, Australia is among them. It is involved in every summer sport, from field hockey to rugby and sailing - and it actually has Olympic champions and medalists in winter sports (such as freestyle and bobsleigh)… While most stadiums and sports museums in different countries are fun to visit if you are a sports fan - but maybe not so much otherwise - the feel is quite different in Australia. Its sports legacy is such a huge part of the country's identity that places like Sydney Olympic Park or Melbourne Park (where Australian Open in Tennis is played) are something like the Louvre in Paris - a cultural and almost spiritual must for anyone who wants to grok the city. Well worth visiting even when they seem to be empty (the soul of the Olympic mascot is always there, just unseen!)
…let alone, when the place is abuzz with action and excitement
As for sports fans, they have an option to personalize their experience by spending some time on the Alley of the Champions. Maybe, in front of a bust like the following one…