A History of Wide Bay Dragons

Cooloola Dragons on the Burnett River at the recent Bundaberg Regatta.

Cooloola Dragons on the Burnett River at the recent Bundaberg Regatta.

Bundaberg Regatta 2023 and a Little Wide Bay Dragon History

In beautiful Queensland winter weather, the four Wide Bay dragon boat teams met on Bundaberg’s Burnett River for the Bundaberg Regatta over the weekend of 17 and 18 June.

This is the first of the Wide Bay Series of dragon boat regattas for the year. The series will continue through the year with the Hervey Bay, 1770, and Cooloola regattas to follow. The last in the series is a two-day event that will be held in our own beautiful Tin Can Bay.

You might remember that the Cooloola Regatta includes our own exciting Diamond Dash. The Bundaberg team took out the 2022 event beating long-time rivals 1770. Our Cooloola team performed well but didn’t come home winners. But the teams all enjoyed a full day of spirited competition along with the friendship and fun that is the essence of dragon boat racing.

A word or two about each of the Wide Bay teams:

Cooloola Dragon Boat Club

Cooloola Dragon Boat Club started in 2003, with a small number of enthusiastic Tin Can Bay residents.  At the start the Cooloola team was given invaluable assistance from the Chinese Gold Coast Dragon Boat Club who generously lent the fledgling club a boat.

In 2004, with assistance from the Te Waka Club, Cooloola organised a ‘Come and Try’ day and membership rose from 24 to 31 by the end of March.

The next big step for the club was its first regatta which was held over the weekend of 24 and 25 July 2004. From that time on, the waters of Tin Can Bay have been a regular meeting place for dragon boat clubs from far and wide across Queensland.

In 2010 the inaugural Wide Bay Series was held between the four clubs who compete to this day. The series has been a great success with much fun, friendly competition and camaraderie. This is a must-see event when it returns to Tin Can Bay in September.

1770 Dragon Boat Club

In 2009 the sailing club at 1770 was donated a wooden 20-person dragon boat called Cameron. At first the dragon boat was purely used for sunset and fun paddling on the beautiful waters of Round Hill Creek 1770.

Then it decided to run a joint club for both sailing and dragon boating. With very little knowledge of dragon boating a few dedicated people started having sessions mainly for fitness, fun, and friendship.  With the backing of Bendigo Bank, a ‘Come and Try’ day was held and more people became involved.

Eventually the sailing and dragon boat clubs separated and the 1770 Dragon Boat Club was born. The club became affiliated with Dragon Boat Queensland in 2010 and over the years it has grown, sometimes having as many as 60 members. The club now has two 20-person dragon boats as well as a 10-person dragon boat.

Hervey Bay Dragon Boat Club

Hervey Bay Dragon Boat Club was formed as an intra-club of the Hervey Bay Boat Club on 29 April 2009.  Ed Gibson, the General Manager of the Hervey Bay Boat Club gathered a small group to form an inaugural dragon boat committee.

Under the guidance of the Brisbane River Dragon Boat Club from whom their first boat was purchased, a ‘Come and Try’ day was held. Since then, the club has gone ahead in leaps and bounds and is now a major part of the Wide Bay dragon boating community. Along with the other three Wide Bay clubs, Hervey Bay hosts its own regatta each year and participates as part of the Wide Bay Warriors team at the National Titles.

The Hervey Bay club is inclusive with members aged 8 to 81. One of the Hervey Bay juniors has also successfully competed in the World Championships. Team members recently paddled in the Ord River marathon seven years after the club’s first experience of this amazing event.

Bundaberg Dragon Boat Club

The Bundaberg club has a long association with sufferers and survivors of breast cancer. One of Bundaberg’s members, Don, approached the local Breast Cancer Survivors Group because he knew there were close ties with survivors and dragon boating and so the club began.

The survivors began paddling as the Dragons Abreast Team, affectionately known as the ‘Pinkies’.   Subsequently a sporting team, the Bundaberg Dragon Boat Club, was formed with a blend of pinkies and sports members.

As the sport grew, and competition was getting stronger, the Wide Bay Dragon Boat Championships Regattas between Cooloola, Hervey Bay, 1770, and Bundaberg were established. The series is widely attended by the Wide Bay members and is always looked forward to with much excitement.

An exceptionally strong bond has now developed between the clubs. As a result of those regattas, we now compete as a combined team ‘Wide Bay Warriors’ at many of the Southern Queensland Club Regattas and the annual State Titles at Lake Kawana.

CDBC 20th Anniversary

Don’t forget the Cooloola Dragon Boat Club’s 20th anniversary is rapidly approaching.  All members past and present are welcome to attend the event at the Tin Can Bay Yacht Club on Saturday 1 July. It is sure to be a good night with music, reminiscence, and lots of fun.

For details, please contact our club secretary, Elaine at: elaine.dimock@bigpond.com

Toni Archer

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