There are millions of different sports being played around the world. From sports created and played in schools to local sporting teams to national stadiums and even the Olympics. Just in Australia, there are thousands of different sporting competitions. Even the biggest sports buff would struggle to name them all.

Join us in stepping away from the AFL competitions and tennis championships to find your axe, put on your skates and grab a beer. Below are some of the lesser-known sports that need more attention.


A young kid holding an kids axe and pretending to chop a piece of wood.
Jeff Carter, Tomorrow's champion wood cutter, Berry, New South Wales, 2003, nla.obj-137333305

Once a chore, woodchopping nowadays is a competitive sport which, legend says, started as a bet between some blokes at a pub. Who would have guessed?

Featuring events like the standing block chopping, tree-felling and even axe throwing, woodchopping takes more than just brute strength. There is a lot of skill and accuracy required. It’s not always the strongest competitors that come in first.

Competitions will often take place at fairs and shows like the Royal Queensland Show in August or the Melbourne Royal Show in September. Ray Youd (pictured below) was the seven-time Australian tree-felling champion at the Royal Melbourne Show. Ray and his 3 siblings, Bill, Doug and Mervyn, have all been inducted into the Australian Axemen's Association Hall of Fame.

Find more images of woodchopping events on Trove. 

A man in a white singlet and pants standing on a flat piece of wood which is stuck into a tall circular piece of wood.
Ray Youd competing in the woodchopping event at the Royal Agricultural Show in Melbourne, Victoria, 1957, nla.obj-137413767

Roller Derby

Did you bring your roller blades?

There are several ways to enjoy roller blades and skates, one of which is in sports. Roller derby became popular in Australia in the early 2000s, although the sport can be traced back to the 1930s in the United States. Traditionally the leagues were only open to women, something which has changed more recently.

The game consists of two teams with 5 players in the rink. Each team has a jammer, who wears a helmet with a star on it, and 4 blockers, together called a pack. The goal is for the jammer to score points by lapping the opposing players. The blockers need to stop the opposition while assisting their own team member.

The game goes for 60 minutes with two 30-minute periods. Within those periods are jams which last up to 2 minutes. The game is a fast-paced contact sport which requires a lot of strategy to win.

Explore more about roller derby and its history on Trove.  

A team of Rolly Derby players trying to prevent the opposite team from getting through them.
Samuel Cooper, Texas Rollergirls Hotrod Honeys Bloody Mary looking for a gap between Victorian Derby League All-Stars blockers, Melbourne Showgrounds, Melbourne 23 July 2011, nla.obj-132225035


Find your dancing shoes, grab a partner (only if you want) and start the music! DanceSport, once known as competitive ballroom dancing, is judged on many different components like posture, rhythm, hold and more. It embraces a mix of choreography and athleticism.

Championships are open to professional or amateur dancers from children to seniors. Dancers compete in Latin American, Ballroom and New Vogue dance styles and can enter in solo events, lead or follow events and couple events.

The World DanceSport Federation has been recognised by the International Olympic Committee and is eligible for inclusion in the Olympic Programme. Although DanceSport is yet to qualify, Breaking, or breakdancing, has qualified and will be featured in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

See more of the stunning photography from these DanceSport events

Couples dancing on a wooden floor wearing ballroom attire with a crowd in the background watching.
Greg Power, Panoramic view of the dancers during competition at the National Capital DanceSport Championships, AIS Sports Arena, Canberra, 30 June, 2002, nla.obj-148144066

Go-kart racing

Start your engines! Go-karting quickly became popular as a sport and past time after the first go-kart was created in the 1950s. It’s not unusual to see a go-kart track at fairs and amusement parks, but go-kart racing is a competitive professional sport as well.

Often go-karting is considered a sport for young drivers, but adults are often just as active in the sport. It’s a competitive, fun and community-oriented sport which is often considered a steppingstone for a career in professional motor sports. That doesn’t mean go-karting isn’t a professional motor sport on its own. The Australian Kart Championship attracts the best drivers from Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

Similar, but without the motor, billy cart racing is also a great competitive sport, with billy cart competitions happening all the time.

Explore go-kart racing in Trove and why not check out billy cart racing at the same time. 

Two men pushing a go-kart with a woman in the drivers seat. Black and white image.
Jeff Carter, A woman go-kart racer being push started by two men, on the shores of Botany Bay, New South Wales, 1950s, nla.obj-137398579

Beer Can Regatta

What a way to recycle. The Beer Can Regatta is an event held in Darwin every year. Although the event includes a lot of different events, including sandcastle making and tug of war, the main event revolves around the beer can boats.

Despite the name, boats for this event can be created from beer and soda cans, soft drink bottles, milk cartons and other empty drink containers. The only rules around the boat’s creation are that the primary design needs to come from these containers and it’s safe for use. The boats are not tested in water before the water events start because half the fun is to see if they will fall apart.

An event for all ages and experiences, start collecting your drink containers now for the next event happening in August 2024. Find some photos of previous Beer Can Regatta events on Trove. 

A boat made of drink cans in the water with approximately 10 people standing or sitting on the boat.
Library & Archives NT, Beer can regatta, 1987, Northern Territory Government Photographer Slide Collection, PH0730/0296,

This blog barely covers all the weird and wonderful sports that Australia has to offer. Between cockroach racing, dunny derby and zorbing, there are many more sports to learn about.

Discover more sports you may never have heard about, and many of your favourites, in our current exhibition Grit & Gold: Tales from a Sporting Nation, running until Sunday 5 November 2023.