The Henley-on-Todd Regatta is a fun filled day where locals and visitors put on a ‘mock’ regatta in the dry river bed of The Todd River. A parade through the town kicks off the event where regatta entrants show off their ‘BYO’ boats. These ‘BYO’ (bring your own) boats provide a hilarious slap-stick element to the event as these interestingly designed ‘vessels’ must rely on the power of human endurance (and foot work) to get anywhere.
The inaugural regatta was in 1962 and has become more popular every year. Looking for ways to raise money for charity, Reg Smith and the Alice Springs Rotary Club came up with the idea for a waterless regatta. Various races are put on and the crowds cheer ecstatically for the bath tub derby, the boogie board tow and the Oxford Tubs. As there is no water, entrants have to carry, pull, sand ski or row their boat in the sand down the Todd.
The Regatta is now the single longest running event in the Northern Territory and has become a huge community event. It’s now famously recalled that in 1993 the Regatta actually had to be called off because of rain – there was water in the Todd River! This fun filled, tongue-in-cheek display has continued on through the years with lots of community and corporate support and has turned into a wonderful local event bringing the community together.
The parade and Regatta take place every year on the third Saturday in August. There are a variety of food and drink stalls available. The parade of entrants begins at 10:30 travelling up Gap Road and on to Todd Street, through Todd Mall and to the Todd Riverside regatta site.