Sports unites. It starts friendships. It stops a nation. Around the world, it defines the time of the year.
How do we do sport in the tropics? For one, we certainly don’t let the heat hold us back. Whether actively participating or enthusiastically spectating, 2017 promises to be an epic year of sports for fans and players alike in Tropical North Queensland. Here’s a rundown of events you won’t want to miss.
GREAT BARRIER REEF MASTERS GAMES
When: 25 – 28 May
With over 2,000 participants, 23 individual and team sports, and four days devoted to sports, the third biennial Great Barrier Reef Masters Games is set to take it up a notch this year. From futsal to judo, the only requirement for most sports is a minimum age of 30 (although this may be less on some occasions – it’s a good idea to check with the specific sport). And like any self-respecting Masters competition, there is a busy social program to rival the sports offering! Exclusive to registered participants, live bands and DJs, themed party nights and great food in the heart of Cairns are all on the agenda for the whole weekend.
CAIRNS AIRPORT ADVENTURE FESTIVAL
When: Between 5 – 13 June
Where: Cairns, Palm Cove, Green Island and Port Douglas depending on the event.
This festival is a true fitness fanatic frenzy, particularly for those who love to swim, bike and run. Designed to appeal to a broad range of competitors – whatever their age, fitness level, or discipline – the healthy choice of events reflects this. From the 5km Cairns Post Bright Night Run to the gruelling IRONMAN Cairns race; the 1.5km or 3km reef swims in the sparkling waters off Green Island; or the IRONKIDS triathlon, there is bound to be a race for everyone. For those into mountain biking or ocean racing, the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge and the Ocean Challenge are the events to check out!
NRL SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS | Round 19
When: 4pm, 16 July
Where: Barlow Park, Cairns
Buy tickets: www.tickets.nrl.com
This will be the fifth season the Rabbitohs bring a home game to Cairns. And with last year’s sold out clash attracting nearly 15,000 supporters, plus high-profile players taking to the field – including the much-loved Jonathan Thurston – 2017’s is set to be a sell-out game as Cairns becomes the focus for league fans again this year.
AFL WESTERN BULLDOGS v GOLD COAST SUNS | Round 18
When: 4.35pm, 22 July
Where: Cazaly’s Stadium, Cairns
Buy tickets: Tickets on sale in February
Meeting for the 4th time in Cairns, the clash between the Dogs, reigning Premiers of 2016, and the Suns promises to be a fierce one, with the Dogs fighting to remain undefeated in Cairns. Showcasing growing support for the game in Tropical North Queensland, more than 10,000 fans are expected to descend on Cazaly’s Stadium forr the twilight game.
When: 1 – 2 September
Where: Cannon Park Racecourse, Cairns
This spring racing celebration is lauded as one of the biggest on the region’s social calendar. With a broad selection of events to choose from, like Fashions of the Field, the Cairns Amateurs Ball and, of course, the actual race, the Cairns Amateurs will bring glamour and entertainment to all punters!
UCI MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
When: 5 – 10 September
Where: Smithfield Mountain Bike Park
This September the world’s best cross-country and downhill mountain bike riders will descend on Cairns for THE event on the mountain biking calendar. Attracting thousands of spectators, 300 riders from 35 countries will compete in team and individual races along the purpose-built Smithfield Mountain Bike Park. An adrenalin-packed event, the World Championships will be televised internationally to more than 6 million people.
TROPICAL JOURNEYS GREAT BARRIER REEF MARATHON FESTIVAL
When: 21 – 22 October
Where: Port Douglas
Starting on the iconic stretch of sand of Four Mile Beach with the sun rising over the horizon, the course of the full marathon race is considered one of the most beautiful, taking runners from beach to bush, through rainforest and past sugar cane fields. Dubbed the “world’s best adventure course” by Olympic champion Steve Moneghetti, the marathon is a gruelling but rewarding race. There are also a range of shorter runs to pick from, including a junior run of 2.5km (for under 14s), 5km, 10km and half marathon, all showcasing the stunning landscape of the region.
RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP
When: On 29 October, a double header will take place at Barlow Park starting at 2pm with Scotland and Tonga battling it out, followed by Ireland and Italy. On 11 November, Samoa will play against Scotland.
Where: Barlow Park, Cairns
With origins dating as far back as 1935, when the French started campaigning for a competition, the games are now held every four years. With 14 teams, 28 games and five weeks of games, the 2017 competition will be hosted in 13 cities throughout Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. This is the pinnacle event for international Rugby League. Cairns is set to host three of the games, including a double header on Saturday, 29 October.