Well, trusty Planetarians, I’m pleased you enjoyed our jaunts around ‘the market’ and the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Now how about you come with us on a visit to the Royal Hobart Regatta? Sounds fun? Okay, let’s slap those sunnies and sunscreen on again, unload the pixies from the chariot and walk up to the Queen’s Domain, on the banks of the River Derwent. Hold onto your hats – it’s a bit windy! Hey, you know I can’t resist another flag photo – this is the Royal Hobart Regatta Association’s proud standard, fluttering strongly in a good southerly breeze up the Derwent.
This venerable Regatta has been held there every year since 1838 (except for 1967 when the infamous bushfires ravaged Hobart). Given Tasmania (then the colony of Van Diemen’s Land) was only settled in 1803, ‘the Regatta’, as the locals call it, has been an institution from the early days of British settlement. Started by the then Governor of Tasmania, Sir John Franklin, both as a free exhibition of aquatic competitions and displays and relaxation for the citizens, it is the oldest Australian public holiday.
A three day event, it’s still free. It even lays claim to being ‘the largest aquatic festival in the Southern Hemisphere’. And how we 'southerners' cherish it (the ‘northerners’ of this fair island don’t get the holiday – they instead have Recreation Day in November!). Mr Wikipedia gives an informative account of the Regatta’s history here.
There are races for rowing (my grandfather used to participate in them as a coxswain in the 1940s), keelboats (my Dad used to participate in them and I used to be an official timekeeper), power boats, jet skis, dragon boats (maybe one day Mr PB and I will compete), outrigger canoes, swimming (including the prestigious 1.6 km Trans-Derwent swim) and a fishing competition. During the early 1900s, novelty events were introduced such as the (late-lamented – we used to love watching it as children) greasy pole competition.
Here are two very excited pixies at the start of our visit.
Joshua and India want to head over to Sideshow Alley first, if that’s okay. “Step right up, step right up. Come and try your luck” sound the loudhailers. What do we have here? This is a classic childhood memory for Mr PB and me, popping the balls in the mouths of these very clowns, hoping they’d drop into the right slots to add up to a number which would result in an excellent prize.
The ducks are fun as well.
How does he fare? Hmm, a grand total of 14.
Joshie wins a plastic sword (with sheath) and India scores a garish soft bunny. Look how delighted they are!
Sam, meanwhile, is taking it easy in his pram, just observing so he knows what to do for next year.
Now here’s something all the pixies can do together – take a little boat ride! Hop in and Joshie, make sure Sam doesn’t try to escape!
Now let’s see how they go. Hmm, happy campers, I’d say!
What else is about? There are slides. Hmm, maybe next year when you’re all a bit bigger.
Now let’s have a wander down to the Pavillion and sit on the grass. The rowing and sailing races are over but we might see some power boats taking a spin. Mr PB and India will lead the way, okay?
The Royal Australian Navy always sends a warship to be the Regatta’s flagship – this year it’s HMAS Parramatta.
What a shame – we’ve missed the tug-of-war between crew members from HMAS Ballarat and HMAS Parramatta. Oh, well, there’s always next year.
The Royal Australian Air Force normally sends the RAAF Roulettes to perform a dazzling aerobatic display, swooping in formation all over Hobart. Unfortunately, this year one of their planes broke down so the pixies were denied the thrill. This is what they usually look like.
|They're always so impressive|
How about a family shot (guess who’s holding the camera as usual ☺)?
Okay, Joshie you can take one with me in it. Hmm, it’s a little windy and glary for my liking but we’re keeping it real on Planet Baby, Planetarians!
Okay, Sam has ‘cracked it’ – time for Mr PB to take him to the chariot. Why don’t you join Joshie, India and me watching the wood-chopping competition? It’s a classic Tasmanian affair, although our Tasmanian world champion, David Foster, is missing this year. Let’s sit on this wooden stand and watch them prepare. First, they have to select an axe.
Then they have to discuss which one to use.
And then off they go! Er, I deleted the video I took but the man on the right won!
We'd like to stay to watch the teams event involving those big upright logs in the background (it's a stunning backdrop, don't you think?) but it's not for a few hours. There's always next year...
So now it’s time to take these weary pixies home. How did you find the Regatta? Was there anything novel that caught your imagination? I’d love to hear!