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Strange sports

Forget the gym, the warmer weather means we can now break free from our treadmill-furnished cocoons and discover something different, Mieke Whitford writes

Underwater hockey

Because playing hockey on land wasn’t hard enough. A curriculum sport in Tasmania, underwater hockey has a smaller, but equally passionate, following in Canberra. Underwater, participants operate their 30-centimetre sticks with skill, precision and agility – though a flipper to the face is not uncommon.

Being an amphibious mutant is not a requirement (though with most players boasting a resting heartbeat of 40 beats per minute, you may quickly become one). A surprisingly forgiving sport for beginners, the water softens contact and is kind to the unskilled. All are welcome and coaching is provided.

When: 8.30-9.30pm Mondays and 8-9pm Thursdays.


African Dancing

African dancing appealed to me as being fun and inclusive. A handful of African dance schools are now based in Canberra, often teaming dance with drumming lessons and boasting instructors with a wealth of experience. Most have toured internationally, endeavouring to develop their knowledge. The history and tradition of African dance is woven through these lessons, bringing snippets of African culture to Canberra.

When: Class times vary depending on the company.


Contact: African Culture at or Dundunba African Drum & Dance at

Dragon boating

In a city of lakes, it’s small wonder this sport has developed a cult following in Canberra. Ten clubs guarantee all interests are catered for: competitive, casual, male, female, grandchild or grand-dragon, world record chasers and breast cancer survivors.

In Chinese culture, dragon boat racing represents patriotism and group integrity. In Canberra, most are drawn to the challenging, team-oriented environment. With 22 people in one boat, it is not difficult to see where this side of the sport comes from. Next time you are at Lake Burley Griffin, keep an eye out for these mystical crafts.

When: Training times vary depending on the club.


Circus lessons

Warehouse Circus has been running programs for all ages since its inception in 1990. There are 215 students currently taking regular classes, in addition to the company’s school-based programs. A couple of hours of juggling, tumbling, handstands and trapeze meant my inner child was amply satisfied (if not a little distracted by the unicycles). A great alternative to competitive sports, this activity has all the health benefits, minus the seriousness.

When: 6.30pm-8.30pm, Tuesdays



Just as quidditch was adapted for muggles, so, too, has jugging been taken from its fictional film origins to be played in Hyde Park. Vaguely post-apocalyptic in nature, the basic gist of this game is that one player makes a dash across the field, attempting to skewer a dog’s skull on to a spike while he is protected by his teammates and attacked by his opponents who all wield weapons. Before outrage sets in, let me point out that the dog’s skull is fake and the weapons are heavily padded. Fast-paced,semi-brutal and huge chaotic potential equates to a truly unique sporting experience.

When: 4pm Sundays.