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The Australians are sports loving people, which is
not surprising considering they are endowed with
such abundance of sunshine, space and
unrivalled facilities for sport. With the
exception of team games, there is no need
to join a club to play, as there are many
public courses and courts available on
payment of a fee.
There is no type of sport which
is not actively pursued in
Australia, either as a spectator
or as a participant. The most
popular sports are tennis, cricket,
swimming, surfing, football, riding,
bushwalking and water skiing.
For water sports enthusiasts, there
are fine sandy beaches within easy
reach of all the capital cities. Additionally,
all cities and large centres have Olympic size
swimming pools. Tennis is played all year round
and the courts are numerous, although demand always seems to exceed supply. Skiing is popular and starts in June. The best known resorts are Perisher Blue and Thredbo (5hrs from Sydney); Mt Buffalo, Hotham and Falls Creek (3hrs from Melbourne).
Cinemas are a popular form of entertainment and all the cities and country towns are well equipped with spacious, air-conditioning cinemas. Some continental and other foreign language films are shown in the growing number of 'arts' cinemas in the cities.
Although some Australian cities are not well endowed with 'live' theatre companies, those that do exist enjoy considerable prosperity, and their number is supplemented by amateur companies that stage regular productions. The exception is Melbourne, which has over 70 theatres. Each state has its own symphony orchestra and orchestral concerts are extremely popular. The Sydney Opera House provides fine facilities for opera and ballet and there are frequent visits by companies and solo performers from Europe and the United States.
There are national parks within easy reach of most cities, including the Blue Mountains National Park, Royal National Parks and Kuring-gai near Sydney and Kosciusko National Park south of Canberra. National parks in the Northern Territory include Kakadu, and Uluru (Ayers Rock) near Alice Springs, offering spectacular landscapes, with rock paintings as evidence of the long history of habitation by Aboriginal culture.
There is an abundance of wildlife, from the marine creatures found on the Great Barrier Reef off the Coast of Queensland to the plants and animals of the tropical forest and bush lands. Many hundreds of species are native to Australia and, indeed, many can be seen only in a particular habitat in one area of the sub-continent. Each city has a botanical garden, perhaps the most notable being Kings Park in Perth, which contains numerous plants and animals native to Western Australia as well as the Koalas, Wallabies, Budgerigars and eucalyptus so typical of Australia.
All Australian cities have good libraries and are well stocked with a wide variety of literature; this is either free or at a nominal charge. Evening classes and day classes are available in a great variety of subjects. These are run by the Council of Adult education.