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Petition calls for return of Birdman Rally

By Charlotte Harper - 23 February 2017 7

Birdman Rally image from the petition page.

Several hundred Canberrans have signed an e-petition calling on the ACT Government to reinstate the popular Birdman Rally on Lake Burley Griffin.

Last held in 1992, the rally was a crazy event in which Canberrans (and entrants from elsewhere) attempted to fly for at least 50 metres from a 10m scaffolding tower over the lake in contraptions of their own making as part of the annual Canberra Festival celebrations.

Rod Armstrong has set up a petition on Change.org entitled Birdman Rally Canberra – Bring it back!!!

At last count he’d attracted nearly 400 signatures towards his goal of 500. Mr Armstrong plans to present the petition to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Opposition Leader Alistair Coe.

“Fellow Canberrans, its time me to bring some fun and life back to our Lake Burley Griffin,” he writes on the petition page.

“Remember the days of going down to the lake to watch the Birdman Rally with family and friends? We should get it up and going again. It would be a perfect event for Canberrans and visitors of all ages (Maybe on Canberra Day or Australia Day). Even if the Government won’t allow it we should still make our own Birdman Rally at Lake Ginninderra for old times’ sake, BYO barbie and drinks. Get Ready to pack the esky :)”

A still from NFSA footage of the Birdman Rally.

The Birdman Rally ran from 1985 till 1992. Entrants competed for $10,000 to $20,000 in prize money. According to a National Film and Sound Archives post on the history of the event, one problem was that entrants would indulge in a few drinks at the Food & Wine Frolic to boost their confidence ahead of their attempted flight from the 10m tower.

A still from NFSA footage of the Birdman Rally.

Eventually the organising sponsor, Capital 7 television, pulled the pin, citing prohibitive public liability and prize insurance costs.

Check out video of the rally here.

Should the ACT Government fund a return of the Birdman Rally?

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7 Responses to
Petition calls for return of Birdman Rally
nickwest 6:48 am 03 Mar 17

Yes, the world has changed. The government could sponsor it – they have all that money they saved by gutting CSIRO, this would be a cheap way to encourage innovation. Hell, we even have a Department of “Innovation” now – maybe they could get on board. Again, it would be cheaper than their propaganda campaign: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/government-to-launch-28-million-taxpayerfunded-ad-campaign-to-sell-innovation-policies-20160105-glznzg.html

Dick Larkey 8:17 pm 26 Feb 17

John Moulis said :

I had the winning photo in The Canberra Times photo competition for the 50th anniversary of LBG in 2015. The pic was taken in 1988 and showed teenagers riding a bike off the scaffolding for the Birdman Rally.

The journalist did a telephone interview with me and when the picture and article were printed they had sought comment from the head of ACT Workcover. He made it clear that the scaffolding in the picture would not conform to today’s standards and that the event was dangerous and a public liability risk.

Sadly the event couldn’t be held in these days of OH&S and workplace safety and it is probably best left in the pages of Canberra history.

The simple solution to circumvent the workplace nannies is to call it a “pop-up birdman rally” and adorn the scaffolding with rainbow flags.

grunge_hippy 11:49 am 25 Feb 17

so how come Melbourne Moomba festival still does it?

John Moulis 3:37 pm 24 Feb 17

I had the winning photo in The Canberra Times photo competition for the 50th anniversary of LBG in 2015. The pic was taken in 1988 and showed teenagers riding a bike off the scaffolding for the Birdman Rally.

The journalist did a telephone interview with me and when the picture and article were printed they had sought comment from the head of ACT Workcover. He made it clear that the scaffolding in the picture would not conform to today’s standards and that the event was dangerous and a public liability risk.

Sadly the event couldn’t be held in these days of OH&S and workplace safety and it is probably best left in the pages of Canberra history.

wildturkeycanoe 3:00 pm 24 Feb 17

A waiver should fix any insurance issues, I mean after all, we sign away our rights to compensation all the time.

Holden Caulfield 10:01 am 24 Feb 17

Of course we’d all like to see the Birdman Rally comeback. None more so than the insurance companies and WHS consultants who would enjoy a massive financial windfall if it ever did comeback.

The world has changed a lot in 25 years.

bruce_lord 10:14 pm 23 Feb 17

Well I guess it might attract more passengers than Singapore airlines from canberra to New Zealand.

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