What games do australian children play?

Written by andrew aarons
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What games do australian children play?
Children in Australia have several games specific to their country and culture. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Kids are kids, wherever they grow up. Though traditions of child-rearing differ from country to country and even from home to home, one thing is constant: children play. While driving across different countries, you may see kids running seemingly without order. They might be playing cricket, for all you know. Australia is home to a few unique kid games and also quite a few variants on North American games with quaint Aussie names, like Freeze Tag, which becomes "Stuck in the Mud" once you're Down-Under.


While kids in the U.S. grow up playing baseball, football and basketball at recess and after school, Aussie kids play a different group of sports. Cricket and football are the most common, but don't be confused by the word "football," which refers to two different games in which a ball is kicked with your feet: soccer and what is known in North America as Aussie Rules, which is similar to rugby.

Down Down Down

This unique game is listed on the "Games Kids Play" website as a unique Aussie ball game. The premise is simple and players only need a tennis ball (or other soft ball) to play. The game begins with two or more players arranged within easy throwing distance and the ball is tossed between them. When the ball is caught it is then thrown to the next person, but if the ball is dropped the other players shout "Down on one knee!" for the first mistake, after which the player who dropped the ball drops to one knee. The next mistake by the same player brings about shouts of "Down on two knees!" then "Down on one elbow" and "two elbows" before finally "Down on your chin!" During this time, the players who are "down" are still required to catch the ball.


This game is played in Austalia and New Zealand, and best played with a class full of students, as the more players you have the more fun the game is. Start with all of the children on one side of a field except for one, who stands in the middle. That child calls out the name of someone from the group, who must run across the field without being tagged. At any point during the run, the child whose name has been called can shout "Bullrush!" and all of the remaining students must run across without being tagged. If anyone is caught, they are in the middle too. The game continues until all children have been tagged.

Traditional Aboriginal Games

In 2008, the Australian Sports Commission published a list of traditional Aboriginal games, some of which are sports for adults and some of which are games for children. This list is elaborated on by "Creative Spirits," which lists some two dozen games on its website. The group underlines the importance of playing traditional Aboriginal games, which teach all children about native traditions and connect both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups while reminding urban Aboriginal children of their history and culture.

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