Darwin Beer Can Regatta

The Darwin Beer Can Regatta is a festival event[1] which has been held annually since 1974 in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia at Mindil Beach. The inaugural event had 63 entries[2] and was attended by about 22,000 people[1] which was about half of Darwin's population at the time.[3]

Darwin's Beer Can Regatta in August 1977 02

Watercraft at 2009 Darwin Beer Can Regatta
Typical more or less floating construction used in the regatta, now a piece of the collection at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

Format Edit

Participants create boats using empty beer cans, soft drink (soda) cans, soft drink bottle and milk cartons. Up to 30,000 cans have been used for a single boat.[2] The vessels are not tested for seaworthiness, prior to water events, and those that fall apart are part of the day's entertainment. A great many sundry events go along with the regatta, including concerts, sandcastles, a thong-throwing contest and the "Henley-on-Mindil" competition (named after the Henley-on-Todd Regatta), where participants run their "boats" around like Flintstones cars.

Other events held on the day have included a thong-throwing contest and a competition for the best novelty hat.[4]

History Edit

The Regatta was begun in 1974 by Darwin businessmen, Lutz Frankenfeld and Paul Rice-Chapman,[1] as a way to clean up beer cans littering Darwin's streets.[2]

The Darwin Regional Tourism Promotion Association was the organiser of the event until 1978 when it came under the aegis of the combined Lions Clubs of Darwin.[1]

In the 1980s the Regatta had about 18 classes, which included motorised beer can boats.[2]

The 2014 Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta took place on 6 July 2014, watched by 15,000 people and attended by visitors from all over Australia. The winner of the first beer can regatta was Kevin Jaques driving the Darwin Powerboat Club's entry "Pistol Knight". Des Hoare the cricketer and then Sales Manager for Swan Brewery Darwin, presented Jaques with the winning cheques totalling $1,000, doubled because the beer can boat used only Swan beer cans. As Jaques used his 80 hp Mercury Motor he was also presented with a Mercury First sticker. The perpetual trophy is held within the NT Museum storage area and the keepsake trophy is on the mantlepiece at Jaques' home. Jaques holds copies of the news clippings and the photographs of the presentations.[5]

In 2020 the Beer Can Regatta was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.[6] In its place, on 8 August a much smaller, 4-hour, Mini-Regatta was held in which the vessels were made of milk cartons. Located at Darwin Waterfront Precinct, instead of the usual Mindil Beach venue where as many as 15,000 watched the races, only a few hundred spectators attended.[7]

In 2021 the Regatta was back at Mindil Beach on Sunday 5 September from 10am to 5pm.,[8] and in 2022 it was on 26 June. In 2023 it will be on 16 July.


See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d "The History of Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta". Beercan Regatta History. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Masters, Emma (11 July 2015). "Building beer can boats is serious, thirsty business". ABC Radio. Darwin: Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  3. ^ "Cyclone Tracy: Darwin and the Northern Territory in 1974". Cyclone Tracy Northern Territory government. Archived from the original on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Floating blokes at Darwin's beer can regatta". News.com.au. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Beer can regatta draws crowds to Mindil Beach". The Northern Territory News. 6 July 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Beer Can Regatta canned over COVID-19 restrictions". NT News. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  7. ^ Zwartz, Henry; Hynes, Nicholas (2 August 2020). "Darwin Beer Can Regatta swaps tinnies for milk cartons during coronavirus pandemic". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Darwin's iconic Beer Can Regatta inspires colourful and quirky creations, ends in US vs Australia showdown". Abc.net.au. 6 September 2021. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta | Darwin Lions Club". Beercanregatta.org.au. Retrieved 12 December 2021.

External links Edit

12°26′42″S 130°49′52″E / 12.44500°S 130.83111°E / -12.44500; 130.83111