Beer Can Regatta: a guide to Australia's least-prestigious boat race

Mindil Beach. Darwin. Australia. Northern Territory. Sunset.

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'Watching the sun go down on Mindil Beach, Darwin' by Sarah M StewartCreative Commons Attribution

Location: Mindil Beach, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Date: 7 July 2013.

Level of participation: 4 - oil your creative cogs and build a ship

Darwin is reputedly the beer-drinking capital of the world, and all that thirst quenching in the tropical heat has a by-product: empty cans. In the aftermath of 1974’s Cyclone Tracy, construction workers, who came to Darwin from less steamy regions, produced enormous piles of empties as they struggled to deal with the climate. A local resident came up with a solution to the litter problem: build boats out of the tins, and hold a regatta.

Today’s race attracts up to 30 boats, which reach up to 12m in length. Amazingly, given the amount contestants have to drink to source their raw material, crafts resemble Viking ships, crocodiles...and contraptions that appear to incorporate table legs from the pub. Contestants in the Battle of Mindil even have flour bombs, water pistols and other secret weapons.

Other water-borne entertainment includes a soft-drink-can race for children and a dragon boat display by local women’s group Dragon Abreast. On the beach, there’s the Ladies’ Thong Throwing Competition and the Henley on Mindil boat-carrying regatta.

Essentials: know the local lingo: thongs are flip-flops; a stubbie is a 375ml bottle of beer.

Local attractions: East of Darwin is the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, a 20,000-sq-km wilderness containing plains, cliffs, Aboriginal rock art and the Alligator Rivers.

More info: www.beercanregatta.org.au

See other top festivals in July here.