Australian Football had it's origins as a winter game in the 1850s primarily as a way for Cricket players to stay fit in their off season.
In a few short years as the game became more popular with audiences, it became a sport in it's own right. Today it is (like most sports) big business, with teams competing almost as much for corporate sponsorship as they do for the ball when on the field.
Some people who have never seen the game before might think it a little odd to begin with, but are soon won over by the sheer pace and athletecism of the players.
Unlike Rugby or Rugby League, players are not allowed to "Pass" the ball using two hands, they must use what is called a "Hand Pass" where the player holds the ball in one hand and punches the ball away using their other hand. You might think this is an inefficient way to move the ball around the field, but modern players are extremely skillful and can pass the ball this way over long distances with great accuracy.
Another facet of the game is quite unique in that when a player kicks the ball to a team mate over a distance greater than 15 Metres and that player catches (or controls) the ball, it is considered a "Mark" and that player is then allowed to take a kick from the spot where he caught the ball unhindered by the opposition. when a mark is taken within kicking distance of the goal, this often sets up a very exciting and dramatic finish to a close game in the dying seconds.
Unlike most ball sports AFL uses four posts at each end of the oval (called an oval because the field is shaped this way), this allows teams to score either a "Goal" (between the centre two posts) or a "Behind" (inside of the outer two posts).The pace of the game is always fast and sometimes even frenetic, and can keep fans on the edge of their seat for almost an entire match. The game is therefore not split into two halves as is normally the case, it is played as four "Quarters" with teams changing their direction of play with each new quarter.
AFL is played during the winter months (April to September), so if you are an international visitor to Queensland during this time, make sure you get along to a game. The Brisbane Lions are the only Queensland team in the national competition at the moment, but there are plans to include a new team in the next few years, that should make for some exciting local derbies. But for now you can go to see the Lions play and enjoy the very unique game that is Australian Football.