The recent Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast has kept the eye of the sporting world firmly fixed on Australia, though for better reasons than before.
It’s been a tough time to be in sport down under after the ball-tampering scandal that has stunned cricket during an Australian test tour of South Africa.
The Gold Coast games have shown things in a different light, however, as the host nation have performed superbly in the medal table thanks to its sportsmen and women.
If you think sport in Australia is over for this year with the Commonwealths ending, though, you’d be wrong. There’s still plenty more action to take in down under.
With that in mind, here are eight sporting events coming up in Australia during the rest of 2018.
A-League Grand Final
Runaway leaders Sydney FC remain on course to retain the A-League title they won last season with this campaign fast approaching its end and the Finals Series. They are hot betting favourites to lift the trophy again.
It’s been confirmed head coach Graham Arnold will leave Sydney once this term is over to return to the national team and another spell as Socceroos boss in August.
Australia were guided to the 2018 World Cup by Ange Postecoglou, but he stood down after qualification and former Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk takes charge for the finals in Russia.
Before naming his Socceroos squad, however, there’s the matter of the A-League Grand Final as the soccer season comes to a close on Saturday, 5 May. The top six football clubs in the division contest the Finals Series, with the table-toppers and runners-up both receiving byes to the semis.
With Arnold’s Sydney side more than 10 points clear of anyone else during the regular season, fired to top spot by the goals of Brazilian striker Bobo, they’re going to be tough to beat again whoever they come up against.
Ireland Rugby Union Tour
Six Nations Championship Grand Slam winners Ireland head down under for a tour that features three Tests against the hosting Wallabies in June.
Head coach Joe Schmidt has got Irish eyes smiling again after sweeping aside all the tier 1 rugby union nations in the Northern Hemisphere this past February and March. In Ulster wing Jacob Stockdale, he has unearthed a real talent who scored seven tries en route to being named the Six Nations player of the tournament.
Schmidt’s Australia counterpart Michael Cheika must ready the Wallabies for a buoyant travelling Ireland contingent who first take on their hosts in Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on Saturday, 9 June. The second Test follows seven days later at Melbourne’s AAMI Park and the final fixture takes place a week after at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Australia have lost three of their last four meetings with the Irish going into this series but are unbeaten on home soil against them since 1979, so can the Wallabies extend that run past the 40-year mark?
Australian Outback Marathon
Long-distance runners are used to red running tracks at major championships like the Summer Olympics, but endurance athletes can swap that for red earth underfoot with the Australian Outback Marathon.
This year’s race takes place on Saturday, 28 July with an 07:45 local time start. You get stunning views of Ayers Rock and the Olgas, while event organisers cater for runners of all abilities with the full and half marathon races joined by 11km and 6km fun runs open to all ages.
Bledisloe Cup Match
Back to rugby union and Australia’s bitter rivals New Zealand head to Sydney on Saturday, 18 August for the first of three annual battles for the Bledisloe Cup.
That fixture and the return game against the All Blacks a week later in Auckland are part of the Rugby Championship that also contains Argentina and South Africa. A third Test between the Wallabies and NZ is played after the tournament with Japanese capital Tokyo playing host to this year’s potential decider on Saturday, 27 October.
New Zealand have won the Bledisloe Cup for 15 consecutive years now and Australia have it all to do if they are to belie that recent dominance by Steve Hansen’s back-to-back Rugby World Cup heroes. The All Blacks are naturally hot favourites for even Rugby Championship glory.
ITU Triathlon World Cup
Commonwealth athletes who competed in the triathlon of swimming, cycling and running will return to the Gold Coast in September for the ITU World Cup
Queensland could again witness the Brownlee brothers of Great Britain, who have done so much to put this sport on the map, competing between 12-16 September in this challenging multi-discipline event.
After disappointing at the Commonwealth Games, Alistair and Jonny will look to do better as they take on the world during Australian springtime.
AFL Grand Final
No preview of a year in sport for Australia would be complete without mentioning Aussie Rules football and the AFL Grand Final.
As ever, this annual event is to be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Saturday, 29 September and will feature two of the top eight teams from the regular season.
At this early stage of the Australian rules football season, it’s 5/1 the field via Oddschecker if punters fancy a bet. Over 100,000 people packed into the MCG last year to see Richmond defeat Adelaide and it’s no surprise to find both those sides prominent again in the betting for this term.
NRL Grand Final
The following day from the Aussie rules Grand Final it’s the turn of Australia’s top rugby league sides to clash in the NRL Telstar Premiership equivalent in Sydney.
Like its union counterpart, this is a tremendously popular ball sport down under. Melbourne Storm romped to victory over North Queensland Cowboys in last year’s NRL Final.
Sydney Roosters are early betting favourites for an outright win in 2018 – ahead of St George Illawarra Dragons and defending champs the Storm.
If horse racing is your thing, then thoroughbreds from all over the world are attracted to Flemington racecourse for its portion of the Spring Carnival in early November. At the centrepiece of this festival and racing in general down under is the Melbourne Cup.
The Australian state of Victoria has a public holiday on the first Tuesday of November when that two-mile (3,200 metres) contest is run, following on from the Victoria Derby for three-year-olds held the previous Saturday.
As a handicap, the Melbourne Cup is not weight-for-age or run off level weights but based on ratings given by the Victoria Racing Club to entrants. Such is the prestige of this race, that the prize purse exceeded six million Australian dollars in 2017.