Whether it’s dominating every sport they turn their hand to, or simply their ridiculous displays of power walking to keep us amused, there can be no doubting the Aussie obsession with all things sporty.

Indeed, if you had a gun put to your head, in some crazy twisted exercise-obsessed version of Russian Roulette, and were forced to name the world’s most sporty nation, then most people would plump for Australia.

If that bizarre game (which the Aussies would probably win… Bastards) took an even weirder twist, and you were forced to name the capital of Australian sport, on pain of being made to work out at an outdoor beachside gym, then the answer wouldn’t be tricky. The one place above all else that sport-lovers bow down to as their spiritual home is Melbourne.

Whether it be the bat, ball or net, all racing tracks lead to the Victorian capital, the undisputed champion City of Sport.

Apart from being home to the hallowed wicket of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the birthplace of Aussie Rules Football, Melbournians get to host almost every major international sporting event Down Under…

Formula 1 Grand Prix

When: 13-16 March
Tell me more: Bitter rivalries will be given the chance to resurface when the Formula 1 season kicks off again at Melbourne’s Albert Park, as Lewis Hamilton, age 12, tries to put his catastrophic end to last season behind him. Plus you don’t just get fast cars and pretty girls at F1 – long-tongued, make-up fixated rockers KISS will play a gig after the race.
Did you know? The race only moved to Melbourne in 1996. Before that, the Aussie Grand Prix provided the climax to the season with a Monaco-style race through the streets of Adelaide.
The damage: Tix for qualifying start at $39. Race day tix $99 and up.
The details: Visit www.grandprix.com.au or call Ticketek on 131 931.

Aussie Rules Football

When: Round 1 of the AFL 2008 kicks off at the MCG on 20 March.
Tell me more: The sport best known for its painfully tight shorts, its impressively moustached umpires and its apparent lack of rules is in fact the only sport you could call truly Aussie. What’s more, it remains dominated by Melbourne, with nine of the 16 teams being based in the Victorian capital, most of them playing at either the MCG or the Telstra Dome.
Did you know? The game was invented in 1858 as a way for cricketers to keep fit during the winter.
The damage: Tix aren’t yet on sale but they’re generally cheap and easy to get hold of at the door.
The details: Visit http://www.ticketmaster.com.au.

Australian Open Tennis

When: 14-27 January
Tell me more: As the first of the year’s four Grand Slam tournaments it’s an early chance to see the cream of the world’s tennis talents as they battle it out for their share of the $20 million prize money.
Did you know? The Aussie Open was actually played on grass courts at Kooyong until 1988, when it moved to the hard courts of Melbourne Park.
The damage: Ground passes start at $20. Entry to a day or night session in the Rod Laver Arena will cost you at least $49.50, if you can get a ticket.
The details: Visit http://www.australianopen.com or call 1300 888 104. All ticket holders can use the number 70 tram from the city to the tournament for free.

Proper Football

When: Australia vs Qatar World Cup qualifier at the Telstra Dome, 6 February.
Tell me more: In case you’re missing a real sport, Aussies
do apparently have a professional football, sorry soccer (grrr), league. Indeed Australia is the only country in the world to have professional leagues in four different codes of football. Despite being reigning A-League champions, Melbourne Victory, don’t look like making it through to the play-offs this year.
Did you know? The league was re-launched in 2005, with just eight cities limited to one team each.
The damage: Tix from $25.
The details: Visit http://www.ticketmaster.com.au or call 136 100.

‘The G’

When: There’s cricket in summer, footy in winter, and tours of the Melbourne Cricket Ground whenever there isn’t an event on.
Tell me more: If any one place could get away with calling itself the spiritual home of Australian sport, it would have to be the MCG. Located in Yarra Park and dating back to 1853 (making it 70 years older than Wembley), ‘The G’ is the sort of stadium that inspires almost religious fervour. It witnessed the first Test Match between England and Australia, the birth of Aussie Rules, the 1956 Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Did you know? Ageing diva Madonna dubbed the stadium the “G Spot”.
The damage: Tours cost $15. The Twenty20 international between Australia and India
is on 1 February, tix from $30.
The details: Visit http://www.mcg.org.au for more.

A Nation of Sporting Psychos

The Indian cricket team don’t seem to think Aussies are great sportspeople. But while there’s plenty of reason to agree they’re a big bunch of baby-faced bad losers, perhaps that’s because they don’t lose very much.

For a quick insight into why Australians are annoyingly good at sport, just compare the behaviour of an Aussie at the beach with a ‘Pom’.

The Pom will take great pleasure in sitting back. He’ll smoke a few fags, guzzle a few beers and put most effort into “getting a good burn on”, in between half drowning himself by swimming in the wrong place. The sporty bit comes from watching the natives surf, kayak
or having swimming races with sharks.

There are many theories why the Aussies are so good at sport. Some say it’s because of an inherent ‘never say die’ attitude in the Aussie character, or a history of hard labour.

No doubt the climate, allowing year-round training, plays a big part, but one big reason, at least for global success, is simple – hard cash.

After Australia won no gold medals in the 1976 Olympics, the Australian Institute of Sport was created, and massive amounts of money have since been pumped into it. Now only America, China and Russia seem capable of winning more medals.

Some ‘social historians’ (ahem, at TNT Towers) speculate that sporting prowess could be in the Aussie genes. All that running away from the police their ancestors did has turned them into fine athletes.

It’s either that, or the fact that the TV down here is so abysmal it makes going for a jog actually seem appealing.

Us? Oh sure. Well, just after one more beer…