Plans underway for a quacking rubber duck race on Queanbeyan River next year

James Coleman 23 September 2021 50
Rubber ducks

Around 5000 to 10,000 rubber ducks will float down Queanbeyan River on 9 April, 2022. Photo: Andrew Wulf.

The ducks are nearly in a row for a quacking race in Queanbeyan next year.

The ‘Great Queanbeyan Duck Race Festival’ will see thousands of rubber ducks float down a segment of Queanbeyan River on Saturday, 9 April, 2022, to raise funds for local charities.

The event is being organised by Queanbeyan Rotary Club and supported by Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.

The ducks will be sold online for $5 each, or $25 for a ‘Quack Pack’ of six ducks. Rather than all the funds going to one particular charity, buyers will be able to choose from a list of local charities and schools.

Brisbane currently hosts Australia’s biggest rubber duck race each year with more than 40,000 ducks, while the honour of the world’s largest rubber duck race goes to London where 250,000 of the yellow rubber quackers take to the River Thames for its annual festival.

The ‘Great Queanbeyan Duck Race Festival’ will be a first for the NSW border town.

Member of Queanbeyan Rotary Club and local resident of 40-plus years, Merran Toone, describes herself as the ‘mother duck’ of the operation who came up with the idea while browsing the internet for fundraising concepts.

“We have all been through hard times, and hopefully by then [April 2022] we will be able to celebrate once again as a community and duck out to enjoy this event together,” she says.

Pool noodles stretched across Queanbeyan River

Pool noodles have previously been strung across the surface of Queanbeyan River to prevent cygnets from washing downstream and over the weir. Now they’ll be used to stop rubber ducks. Photo: Ricardo Mendonca.

Merran says organisers are still in the process of procuring 5000 to 10,000 rubber ducks for the event, but says they have a couple of leads.

“I didn’t really want to buy new from China and have more plastic,” she says. “I want to use what’s already out there and available so the event is more environmentally friendly.”

Merran wants the race to get off to a spectacular start, but hasn’t quite worked out the full logistics of getting that many rubber ducks into the river all at once.

“Originally, we were looking at having a front loader truck dump the ducks in from the bridge, but that would require the main road to close and that’s quite hard to get approved,” she says.


READ ALSO: Queanbeyan’s swan dive stopped by pool noodles over troubled water


At this stage, Merran says they’re looking at propelling them into the water with a sling.

The ducks will set off from the Monaro Street bridge and cross the finish line 200 metres downstream ahead of the weir. Floating barriers will prevent the ducks from going over the edge of the weir or getting stuck in the reeds lining the river banks.

“The Men’s Shed has kindly offered to build a V-shaped funnel for the finish line, so we will have a clear winner for the major prize,” says Merran.

The NSW State Emergency Service will be onboard to assist with any safety concerns.

Rubber duck race in Boorowa

Rubber ducks under the starters orders at Australia Day celebrations in Boorowa, NSW. Photo: Sina Banks.

In addition to the race for the little bath-sized ducks, businesses will be able to sponsor larger rubber ducks and decorate them with advertising. These ‘duckoration ducks’ will cost $450 each and be displayed in the front window of Riverside Plaza as part of a people’s choice award.

“We can’t really put these into the river because of environmental concerns, but if businesses don’t want to decorate their duck, they can enter it into the ‘Dashing Duck’ race,” says Merran. “This will be a corporate race for the bigger ducks.”

The event will comprise three races in total: the main race, the corporate race, and a race involving large inflatable ducks.

“I’ve got a couple of blow-up ducks and we hope to have some local sporting teams onboard paddling [them],” says Merran.

There will be prizes for the winners, as well as food stalls and duck-themed amusements and merchandise.

“We also want people to name the ducks they buy, like ‘Yolko Ono’, ‘Sunday Roast’, ‘Quack Sparrow’, ‘Ducktor Who’ and ‘Maykybe Diver’,” says Merran. “My favourites have to be ‘James Pond’, ‘Duck Norris’, ‘Hugh Quackman’ and ‘Breaddie Mercury’.”

Merran is seeking sponsors for the event, who will be invited to a ‘Very Important Duck’, or ‘VID’, area on the day where “they can flock together and have a bird’s-eye view of the race”.

Anyone wanting to get involved or help sponsor the event should contact Queanbeyan Rotary Club, or email Merran Toone at mtoone@ozemail.com.au.


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50 Responses to Plans underway for a quacking rubber duck race on Queanbeyan River next year
Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:41 pm 05 Oct 21

Can duck shooters attend? Using rubber bullets, of course.

Shenae Conway Shenae Conway 10:29 am 05 Oct 21

Haze Lee vacation at my place?

Elizabeth Izatt Elizabeth Izatt 7:24 pm 29 Sep 21

Love this

Majella Kesby Majella Kesby 5:58 pm 29 Sep 21

So do they put a boom across the river somewhere further down stream to retrieve the ducks?

Lucia Schiavo Lucia Schiavo 5:12 pm 29 Sep 21

Plastic I assume going into the waterways. The river already needs a good clean up from the storms

Erin Brown Erin Brown 2:06 pm 29 Sep 21

For people commenting about catching them read the article

Dougie Fry Dougie Fry 10:14 pm 27 Sep 21

I’m going to lube mine up with baby oil

Bec Malik Bec Malik 9:38 pm 27 Sep 21

Kelly Tunks let’s do this!!

Rachel Görbert Rachel Görbert 8:44 pm 27 Sep 21

Cate Ginty I will visit you for this

Caroline Le Couteur Caroline Le Couteur 7:02 pm 27 Sep 21

Please don't release a heap of plastic rubbish. We have enough problems.

    John Gault-pye John Gault-pye 7:28 pm 30 Sep 21

    Caroline Le Couteur they're made of rubber

Tracy Parker Tracy Parker 6:18 pm 27 Sep 21

Perth do a duck derby every year where around 15000 are released, they re use them and collect them all at the end of the event

Chris Davis Chris Davis 4:47 pm 27 Sep 21

Hope they check out how Narooma runs it

Steph Hamleed Steph Hamleed 4:32 pm 27 Sep 21

Melanie Leedham bring the kids to this

Acton Acton 3:59 pm 27 Sep 21

In 1992, a shipping container of 28,000 rubber ducks fell overboard on its way from Hong Kong to the United States. Carried by ocean currents, they are still being washed ashore, on Hawaii, Alaska, South America, Australia and the Pacific Northwest. One duck even reached Scotland.

Sarah Handley Sarah Handley 3:55 pm 27 Sep 21

Meredyth Wendel how will the cygnets cope lol

Amy Jamieson Amy Jamieson 12:38 pm 27 Sep 21

Sean Jones Canberra has it all

Jessie Lee Bryant Jessie Lee Bryant 10:35 am 27 Sep 21

Angus Thomson can we go?

franky22 franky22 10:13 am 27 Sep 21

Come on people – couldn’t you have thought of something more environmentally friendly.
The worlds oceans & rivers are being chocked with plastics !!

Hayley Conna Hayley Conna 9:54 am 27 Sep 21

Jacqueline de Waal obviously we’re going

Liz Higgins Liz Higgins 9:10 am 27 Sep 21

Sign us up 😍

Mushy Pea we'll save you a space 😘

    Mushy Pea Mushy Pea 11:59 pm 27 Sep 21

    Liz Higgins excellent looks like my kind of event 🤣😂

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