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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.