Every year on the 3rd Saturday in August, Alice Springs is the Place to be. So mark it in your calendar now, (we put it in ours)
The Territorians have a unique sense of humour, thinking little about the pomp and ceremony of English rowing regattas. Their mock regatta has become a popular tourist attraction. Now in its 57th year, it’s usually held in August. It’s only been cancelled once in 1993 due to flood waters!
The Rotary Club of Alice Springs was discussing fundraising when Reg Smith suggested a waterless regatta on the bed of the Todd River. How would the boats traverse down a river bed? Reg replied cut out the bottom, put people inside to lift it up and run.
The day starts with entrants parading through the Todd mall to the riverside. The Royal Australian Navy provides a nautical influence, engaging with the community for a few days before competing in the Regatta. There’s a variety of events for adults and children. For under 12s, there’s sandcastle building, rubber duckie, egg and spoon, and three-legged races. Adults can enter the Budgie Smugglers race, a tug of war pulling a boat, surf rescue, kayak races, rowing 4s and an Ironman and Ironlady event.
Entrants in the boat races can choose to use one of the boats supplied or build their own! The highlight of the day is the motorised Battle of the Boats! Crewed by members and friends of the three Rotary Clubs, they are heavily armed. They have forty electronically detonated flour mortars, water cannons and flour bomb balloons. Everything in the way is turned white and gooey! Last boat standing wins!
The three Rotary Clubs have equal representation on the Henley On Todd Board. They oversee a team of two hundred volunteers from the Rotary clubs, Apex, Probus, the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, Red Hot Arts, Scouts, Lions, SA/NT Volunteers, Alice Springs Town Council Youth Action Group and others.
Approximately $1.6 million dollars has been raised from the Regatta since its inception!
Club History and Projects
The Rotary Club of Alice Springs was charted in 1961. Their projects are the annual Bangtail Muster Parade, the annual Bill Van Dijk Post Graduation Education Award of $3,000 to an outstanding student, and the annual John Hawkins Memorial Scholarship awarded to an outstanding tertiary student.
They charted the Rotary Club of Stuart (Alice Spring’s previous name) in 1970. Their projects are RYPEN, Girls in Alice Academy, annual prizes for scholastic achievement to all Alice Spring schools, Shelter Box, assistance at local fetes including the Old Timers, partnered with local authorities in Nepal for an education centre and donate funds to other local non-profit groups.
In 1985 the Rotary Club of Alice Springs Mbatua (the local Arrernte people’s name for Alice Springs) was sponsored by Rotary Club of Stuart. They support End Trachoma, Purple House, End Polio, Alice Springs Hospital and Eye clinic, annual awards for outstanding students’ at all five high schools, Old Times Village through the Australia Day breakfast and their yearly fete, and some student exchanges.