• Tailgaters (L) and 'The Richies' (R) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Referring to a party based out of the open 'tailgate' of a vehicle, tailgating has taken on a whole new meaning in North America - but is there an Australian equivalent?
Sam Carroll

6 Mar 2017 - 5:03 PM  UPDATED 13 Mar 2017 - 10:57 AM

When you think tailgating, 'road rage' probably springs to mind.  

But as part of the series Dead Set On Life, host Matty Matheson travelled to Buffalo, New York and discovered a whole new meaning of the word. In the States, tailgaiting is the practice of holding a party out of the back, or tailgate, of a pickup truck.

To find out what tailgating is all about, Matheson attended a cook-up at an NFL game hosted by the Buffalo Bills, experiencing the array of food on offer from local die-hard fans at a park outside New Era Field. Featuring everything from homemade sausages to hot dogs and lamb burgers, the cook-ups have evolved to the point where there is an array of different cuisines to choose from, provided you bring a good attitude (and aren't a vegetarian).

But is there an Australian equivalent?

As much as we love our sport and barbeques, have we found a combination of the two that matches our American friends in terms of good food, a positive attitude and a love of your favourite team?

Below we take a look at some examples that come close.


The Richies

What started off as a group of ten men at the Sydney Cricket Ground paying tribute to their favourite commentator after hearing of his pending retirement, has become a permanent fixture of the cricket season. Showing their appreciation by donning Benaud's trademark cream, bone, white, off-white, ivory or beige suit, complete with wig and microphone, the tradition has become so popular that it has extended throughout Australia.

Unfortunately for 'The Richies' they fall short to tailgating when it comes to food but look set to remain an enduring sporting tradition for the foreseeable future. 

Dead Set On Life
From $6 subs to the most sought-after ingredients on the planet — Matty Matheson eats it all, with friends new and old. Catch him in Dead set on Life on Monday nights on SBS VICELAND.

World Rugby Sevens

A global tournament with 10 rounds held at 10 different international locations, this event attracts visitors from around the globe, with teams from Canada, Fiji, Japan and Russia all competing for a spot at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.  

Like 'The Richies', the event has become a renowned for its frivolous outfits - at February's Sydney Sevens 2017 the fancy dress theme was "Go Colourful", leading to a packed Allianz Stadium with an array of inventive apparel, rugby related or otherwise. Again, our Aussie equivalent misses out when it comes to meat-based snacks.

Fans get in the fancy dress spirit of Sevens rugby at Allianz Stadium.


AFL grand final

Perhaps the most similar event to tailgating, having a 'barbie' outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground has become an established practice. Whether the team is from Brisbane, Sydney, Perth or within Victoria, you'll always be able to find seek out a free snag at Australia's biggest sporting event.

Hawthorn fans at the 2012 AFL grand final.


Australian Open

The lawn at Rod Laver Arena has become a meeting-place for tennis fans keen to watch the games in a more relaxed fashion. Open to the public, supporters are able to sit back and take in all the action without having to adhere to the stadium dress-code. The casual nature goes hand-in-hand with tailgating, but once more lags behind in terms of barbecue-based goods.

Crowds outside Rod Laver Arena watching the 2017 Men's Final.


A-League pre-game

After the establishment of the competition as the top professional football league in Australia in 2005, die-hard football fans quickly flocked to the newly introduced clubs, with each team having their own active supporter groups, similar to those seen in the United Kingdom. 

Supporter groups of arch-rivals Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers have both made pre-game meetups at the local pub a weekly occurrence. For The Cove, drinks typically occur at the Bat and Ball hotel, a short walk from the Sky Blues' homeground at Allianz Stadium, while for the Red and Black Bloc the Roxy and Collector Hotels have both been used as a social meeting place before the march to the game.

A different atmosphere to a tailgate party at a Buffalo Bills game, the pre-match meetup has become a tradition that perhaps comes closest to matching the American equivalent in terms of attitude.


Dead Set on Life airs Mondays at 9pm on SBS VICELAND. After they air, episodes will be available on SBS On Demand.

Missed the last episode, watch it right here:

How Matty Matheson went from the brink of destruction to must-watch TV
Dead Set on Life is the result of a youth of excess, a heart attack and a massive love for food.