Question:

What is Australian Rules football?

Australian Sport: Motor racing

Motor racing Australians love cars, whether it´s tinkering with them, revelling in their destruction at demolition derbies or watching them put through their paces on the racetrack. The F1 (with one round held in Melbourne every year) and Indy Car series favoured overseas maintain a following in Australia, but the V8 Supercar and motorcycle events enjoy the highest profile across the country. The most prestigious event on the V8 racing calendar is the Bathurst 1000, staged in the rural New South Wales town of the same name every October. Racers complete circuits of the steep and spectacular Mount Panorama, averaging around 140 kilometres per hour in their customised V8 sedans. Traditionally, V8 racing has been an ongoing duel between Holden (General Motors) and Ford cars, with spectators often unshakably devoted to one team or the other. Multiple winners at the mountain have included racing legends Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and Allan Moffat. Motorcycling, the more global motorsport, has yielded arguably Australia´s greatest sporting champion. In the 500cc class, Mick Doohan has won five consecutive World Championships, with injury preventing him from even more victories.

Australian Sport: Australian Rules football

Aussie Rules, Australia´s own brand of football, emerged in 1858, when a group of school-age cricket players in the southern state of Victoria were pursuing a way to keep fit during their off-season. Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar School played the first game of Australian Rules football — known usually as simply 'footy' — that year. The Victorian Football League (VFL), later renamed the Australian Football League (AFL), opened in 1896. For decades the VFL, the sport´s showcase competition, remained the exclusive domain of zealous fans in Victoria, with competitions in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania attracting only a regional following. However, in recent times, especially given the improving fortunes of the West Coast Eagles, the Adelaide Crows and the Sydney Swans, AFL has become a truly national game. The sport´s nickname, "aerial ping-pong", stems from its nature as a game of kicking and catching, of tall muscular players making strong but graceful leaps to catch the ball. The high jumps for possession, called marks, are one of the AFL´s distinguishing features.

Australian Sport: Camel racing

Camels have played an intriguing role in Australian history. They were introduced into the country in the late 1880s, and Australian explorers used them extensively inland as packhorses. With the advent of modern transportation, the camels had served their purpose and were released into the wild. Early this century, some of the wild beasts were rounded up and tamed for racing. The early contests were laid-back affairs, staged as part of picnic days in several Outback locations. Even after the first major camel-racing day at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory in 1971, the sport remained an oddity. Today, the stakes are higher, with some races offering prize money between $20,000 and $30,000. The biggest races take place in Boulia, Queensland, and Alice Springs. Money raised at the latter goes to charity.

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