In one of Australia’s most exciting and fiercely-fought sporting contests, the State of Origin pits New South Wales against Queensland in a best-of-three rugby league tournament.
The states go head-to-head in what each year turns into the biggest regional rivalry since Queensland got the Big Pineapple in an attempt to out-do New South Wales’ Big Banana.
The NSW Blues, affectionately known as the Cockroaches, and the Queensland Maroons, aka the Cane Toads, both have their strengths and weaknesses.
But why should 26 or so neckless brutes get to have all the fun deciding which state is best eh? So we decided to come up with our own little State of Origin contest, in which the Cockroaches and Cane Toads go to war on the really important things in life.
You know, things like getting sunburnt, getting drunk and scaring yourself stupid…
Round One: Beaches
The Sunshine State is deservedly world famous for its beaches, and they don’t come much more famous than Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays. It can also boast a Surfers Paradise, on the Gold Coast. And they’re not wrong for being so confident.
The beaches in Queensland are spectacular. Try learning to surf at Noosa, getting to grips with a 4WD on Fraser Island, or simply lie back and soak up the year-round sun on any
of the dozens of world class stretches of sand on offer. You simply won’t want to leave.
Queensland also has the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the natural wonders of the world, and is a star player hard to compete against.
Okay, so strictly the reef isn’t a beach, but, er, you get there from the beach. And besides, what’s a great contest without a little scandoulous rule bending, eh?
Stretching all the way from the tropical north down to central Queensland, it is an underwater labyrinth of amazement that has to be seen through your own mask to be believed.
The only tragedy is, this playground is deteriorating with age. Due to rising water temperatures, the coral is fading faster than your NSW summer tan, so go check it out before it disappears forever.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Well what about humble NSW? While it doesn’t pretend to be the best, NSW’s beaches prefer to let the sand speak for itself, although you may have to look a little harder to find it. Look past Bondi, Manly and Palm Beach, made famous by TV and tourists, and search out the hidden gems of the coast.
Port Stephens is a 2.5 hour drive from Sydney and caters for everyone. You can go dolphin watching in Nelson Bay, watch the sunset on the calm shores of Shoal Bay or catch some epic, and fairly uncrowded, surf at One Mile Beach.
And if you’re heading north, of course, don’t forget to get your fix of people watching on Byron Bay’s relaxed beaches.
South of Sydney is the tucked away Royal National Park and, a bit further on, the untouched beauty of Eden, which, if you read the bible, means paradise – see, told you NSW was subtle.
It is a stunning town that is famous for its whale watching and, depending on the time of the year, penguins, seals and dolphins.
The Verdict: Queensland, with some big name stars, looked the clear favourite in this round, but NSW battled back with charm and modest point scoring to keep the Toads in sight. It looks like a draw.
Round Two: Nightlife
NEW SOUTH WALES
This is a question of, do you prefer to fill your trophy with Bundaberg Rum or an aged bottle of Hunter Valley Pinot?
Queensland is known for its hit-the-piss-then-hit-the-floor-hard mentality whereas NSW has a certain sophistication when it comes to drinking.
Both have their own tactics to guarantee a great night out, where you don’t even know what state you’re in – mentally or geographically.
NSW’s team captain is Sydney – he’s cool, suave and knows a thing or two about wine. He’s also a sinner – the player caught cheating on his wife with his team-mate’s girlfriend.
He’ll take you to a small and trendy bar with great mood lighting, probably in Surry Hills, where he’ll compliment you just the way your Sauv Blanc is complimenting your canapés. Then when you’re suitably buzzed he’ll whisk you off to Kings Cross where he knows a bouncer at Lady Lux or Tunnel.
You’ll dance the night away with a sea of beautiful people and promising new DJs only to wake up feeling empty and confused. But that’s okay because everyday is a new drinking day in Sydney. Enjoy the afternoon sun while sipping on a cocktail at Icebergs or Ravesi’s in Bondi and you’ll feel alive again… or so you’ll have yourself believe.
QLD shares its starring role with Cairns and the Gold Coast. Cairns is the larrikin out for a good time. You’ll be dancing on tabletops and entering wet t-shirt competitions in no time.
Cairns is all about fun and thinking in the moment. But if Sydney is a sinner, then the Gold Coast is in jail. On his first day of release he would head to Orchid Avenue, with its endless bars that cater for all tastes, from nightclubs to strip clubs.
Lets hope he has no curfew, as most bars are open until the early hours of the morning. Shooters, Cocktails and Dreams, Player’s Showgirls, The Bedroom… the names speak for themselves.
The verdict: Both states go hard (and don’t go home) in this round and it’s close, but I have to award NSW with the trophy in the battle of nightlife kick-offs. While, if you know where to look, there’s no shortage of craziness available in the likes of Cairns, Surfers, Airlie Beach, even Brissie, NSW team captain Sydney has something to offer everyone on every night of the week.
Round Three: Adventure
In true Cane Toad spirit, QLD is deadly, a menace and full of adventure. But don’t disqualify NSW, just yet. Roaches can survive a nuclear explosion, can’t they? I never understood how they can survive this but not a spray of Mortein, but anyway…
Queensland speeds way ahead with its extreme sports – Cairns is famous for its bungy jumping, canyon swing and reef night diving, while there’s plenty of options available for whitewater rafting enthusiasts.
The Tully is most popular, but the ultimate experience has to be an eight day rafting trip through Barron Gorge National Park.
Skydiving? Mission Beach is the place for you. If it’s extreme, it’s on offer in Queensland.
NEW SOUTH WALES
While NSW doesn’t has as many, “I could die” experiences, it does still offer various levels of adventure. The climb over Sydney Harbour Bridge might not be death-defying, but might feel it if you’re scared of heights.
However, you can still take it up a gear. The Blue Mountains is a great location for trying canyoning or rock climbing – two activities potentially frought with danger.
If you prefer heading underwater, then take a dip in the shark tank at Manly Oceanworld, or quite likely meet nurse sharks in the open water if you go diving in places like Byron Bay.
And there’s the obligatory skydive to be found just south of Sydney, in Wollongong.
The verdict: Okay, okay, so NSW doesn’t have as much immediate adrenalin junkie adventure-ness as QLD. If you prefer to keep your spinal cord in tact whilst sipping on a latté, then stay safe in NSW. But since this round wasn’t based on coffee, QLD is victorious.
Hmm, so overall, the contest is a tie. Both states, it seems, have great beaches, but while Queensland is best for adrenalin activities, you can’t beat a night out in New South Wales (well, Sydney). There’s only one thing for it; we’re off to find a cockroach and a cane toad…