Henley-On-Todd: The Waterless Regatta

Dec 8, 2020 1 comments

Every August, Alice Springs, a large town in the heart of Australia’s Northern Territory, holds an unusual boat race on Todd River, a river that’s rarely wet. The “boats” are bottomless which enable the “rowers” to poke out their legs and run over the hot sands. The annual event sees hundreds of participants run along the dry riverbed in quirky boats fashioned out of metal frames in the shape of yachts, kayaks as well as regular rowing boats. The final event of the day, known as the Battle of the boats, involves three land vehicles decorated as boats fighting each other with water cannons and water bombs.

Henley-On-Todd regatta

Photo: Lauren Cameo/Shutterstock.com

Alice Springs is situated right next to the MacDonnell Ranges and a vast unforgiving sandy desert, smack dead in the center of the continent and practically in the middle of nowhere. Despite its remoteness, Alice Springs is a miraculously thriving community with a population of more than 25,000—a surprisingly large figure for a town so distressingly outback.

Alice Springs is as desiccated as any Australian desert settlement can be. Technically, the town has a river, called Todd, that’s forever dry. But on rare occasions when it flows it has the tendency to sweep people away, because its waters often catch the townsfolks off guard. It takes only fifteen minutes for the river to change from its normal dry bed to a bank-to-bank flow, inundating many parts of the town. But these are rare events and only takes place after heavy rainfalls in the north, which itself is a rarity. Because the river is usually dry, many homeless people have made the riverbed their home, living in makeshift camps. These people are the most vulnerable when the river floods.

todd river

For most of the year, Todd River looks like this—bone dry. Photo: FiledIMAGE/Shutterstock.com

todd river

Todd River when its flowing. Photo: Michael Coghlan/Flickr

The Henley-on-Thames regatta started as a joke in 1962, when an employee of the Alice Springs Meteorological Bureau suggested that they should have a regatta along the lines of the famous Henley Royal Regatta taking on the River Thames. The idea was taken up by the Rotary club of Alice Springs and turned into a reality.

The Henley-on-Thames regatta holds the distinction of being the only dry river regatta in the world, and the first regatta to be cancelled when there was actual water on the river. This happened in 1993 due to flooding.

The Henley-On-Todd Regatta is run entirely on a volunteer basis, and the funds collected from the event goes to various charities and humanitarian projects. Over the years, the regatta has raised over a million dollars.

Henley-On-Todd regatta

Photo: Lauren Cameo/Shutterstock.com

Henley-On-Todd regatta

Photo: Lauren Cameo/Shutterstock.com

Henley-On-Todd regatta

Photo: portengaround/Flickr


Post a Comment

More on Amusing Planet


{{posts[0].date}} {{posts[0].commentsNum}} {{messages_comments}}


{{posts[1].date}} {{posts[1].commentsNum}} {{messages_comments}}


{{posts[2].date}} {{posts[2].commentsNum}} {{messages_comments}}


{{posts[3].date}} {{posts[3].commentsNum}} {{messages_comments}}