Arrivals & Departures Quirky NT events: beer boats, a million-dollar barra, camel races and more

Photo of Angie Tomlinson

Where else can you catch a barramundi and win a million dollars, watch participants race a boat made completely of Emu Export cans and witness a camel race that started 47 years ago as a bet between two mates? 

Million Dollar Fish

It almost sounds too good to be true: catch a fish and win a million dollars. In the Top End it is, in the words of John Williamson, true blue.

Fishing enthusiasts from all over the world are converging on the NT until February in an attempt to catch one of the prize barramundi that have been tagged and released.

Now in its third year, the free competition offers 100 barramundi worth $10,000 and one worth a whopping $1 million.

According to the website tally, 10 fish have already been caught and 100k won, which means the big one is still out there.

Beer Can Regatta

Staying on the water, or more likely in it: come July, Darwin will host the Beer Can Regatta.

The event sees participants create and race boats made entirely of empty beer cans, plastic bottles and milk cartons. By the pictures, XXXX Gold and Emu Export are the materials of choice.

Boats are not tested for sea-worthiness before the race, so you can draw your own conclusions there.

Camel Cup

The Camel Cup is an Alice Springs institution, dating back to 1970 and originally held in the dry Todd River Bed as a bet between two mates. The bet makes for hilarious reading:

“Dear Editor, ... I have had a feud with Lion Keith Mooney–Smith for some considerable time and I feel it is time we settled it. So I challenge him to a duel, weapons being camels. Time and place I leave this up to him. That is if he is not chicken as he is getting that fat I doubt if he can sit on one; a good suggested time for this grudge race would be Centenary Celebrations…. Yours sincerely, Lion Noel.”

After a few venue changes over the years, the race is now held at the Noel Fullerton Camel Racing Arena at Blatherskite Park — which is, oddly enough, the only purpose-built camel-racing venue in the Southern Hemisphere.

Henley on Todd Regatta

The Rotary Henley on Todd Regatta in Alice Springs is an amazing collection of surf competitions (think battle of the boats, surf rescue and the budgie smuggler — actually don’t envisage that last one) absolutely nowhere near the surf.

Held in the dry creek bed of the Todd River, the event is now in its 54th year. Boats are raced by carrying them, canoes are “paddled” with shovels in sand and little nippers race for the finish line.

Top image by Peter Carrol/Tourism NT. 

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