The North West Canoe Club was formed by a handful of enthusiasts on January 14 1975. In early 1976, four club members paddled the Gregory River from the Knobbies to the pub. The trip was such a success that it was decided to organise it into a canoe race.
The inaugural Gregory River Canoe Marathon took place on June 6, 1976. Eighteen paddlers started the race. Dave Ferguson was the first across the line in a time of 4 hours and 9 minutes. He was closely followed by the legendary Ron Snow, two minutes behind.
The race has since gone from strength to strength, and has grown to be one of the largest and most isolated canoe races in Australia, regularly attracting over 150 competitors.
Race Fact #2
The smallest field ever to contest the Gregory River Canoe Marathon was 18 paddlers in the inaugural race in 1976. The largest number of competitors was in 1991 when 250 paddlers competed.
On Labour day weekend of each year thousands of people from all over Australia are attracted to the idyllic tropical setting of the banks of the Gregory River to enjoy a weekend of canoeing, swimming, camping, fishing and partying.
The beauty of the river itself is the main attraction, it is a popular getaway for Mount Isans most of the year thanks to the good fishing, swimming, camping and canoeing. The Gregory is fed by underground springs which are situated close to the Northern Territory border, and are part of the Georgina basin. The crystal clear water is fringed with pandanus palms, Livistona Rigida palms, paperbark trees, fig trees and a variety of other flora. The river consists of both shallow and deep waterholes which are linked by small rapids. Some snags, logs and overhanging pandanus palms are encountered when paddling downstream.