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BIG SMOKE BOTTLE BOAT BEGINS LONG JOURNEY NORTH FROM SYDNEY HARBOUR THIS THURSDAY!
20,000 plastic wine bottles. 5 Sydney city-slickers. A 4,300 kilometre journey.
A four person boat made of wine bottles will be launched for the first time this Thursday 30 June at Blues Point Reserve,
in front of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, on its long journey of 4,300km to be the first boat from outside the Northern Territory to compete in the Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta next month.
Since its humble beginnings in 1974, The Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta has grown to become a weekend festival of the Territory’s unique culture and an international tourist must do. On Darwin’s Mindil Beach on Sunday 17 July, a fleet of boats using empty beer cans for flotation will compete to win a short race, followed by a chaotic battle using flour bombs, water pistols, good natured insults and dirty tricks.The first entry from outside the Northern Territory, the Big Smoke Bottle Boat is also unusual because of a huge problem that arose before construction even began. Project director Stuart Dawson explains.“We were in Darwin to film the 2012 race, and got to chatting with the race organisers,” says Dawson. “When they told us there had never been an entry from outside the Territory, the germ of an idea took root — wouldn’t it be fun to try and build a boat in Sydney, put it on a trailer, drive it right across the country from Sydney to Darwin and be the hated city slickers from the Big Smoke come to challenge the locals?”
“We thought: ‘how hard can it be?” says Dawson. “We thought that until we realised how hard it was going to be to collect several thousand empty beer cans in Sydney.”Where do we get the beer cans from?
“In Darwin, you just put a skip at the back of the pub,” says Dawson. “Everybody throws their empty cans in there for you. In Sydney, do you ever see people in pubs drinking cans of beer? No, you don’t. Where were we going to get a few thousand empty beer cans from?”Several failed beer can collection schemes later, early backers of the project Kooks Wines offered to donate a pallet load of the empty, sealed PET plastic wine bottles used to serve Kooks Wines on Jet Star flights around Australia.
“Massive thanks to the guys at Kooks,” said Alan Jones, product producer. “Why would a wine brand be prepared to get involved in an event basically centred on the Northern Territory’s legendary love affair with beer? Especially to back a team of first time amateurs, building a boat out of materials nobody’s ever tried to use before, and then towing it 4,300km across the Outback just to get to the start line. Kooks is a small, very new brand, run by the founders, and they were prepared to take some risks. There are definitely risks in this project! Kooks actively seek out great projects they can get behind, projects driven by passion and compassion, and we’re very grateful they found us.”
“Some of the team are media professionals so from the beginning we knew we wanted to make a documentary about the project,” says Jones. “And we knew we wanted to raise some money for charity from our city slicker friends. In 2016 the Beer Can Regatta will raise money for Downs NT, NT Cancer Council and Mindil Beach Surf Lifesaving Club. They’re all important causes, but we thought they were unlikely to motivate our city slicker friends to open their wallets.”
“After an extensive search we’re delighted to be raising much needed funds for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. While we’re having a jolly time traveling north to Darwin with our boat, there are people having an awful time, hoping to travel south to Darwin by boat from the coast of Indonesia. There are people from all corners of the world fleeing terrorism, tyranny and oppression, and people seeking asylum in Australia. If these people are discovered on the way, their boat may get turned back to Indonesia. And if they get close to Australian shore, they get sent to internment camps for indefinite detention in inhumane conditions.”
“So we’re hoping our own ‘boat people’ project can help by raising funds for the important work the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre does with refugees accepted into Australia,” says Jones. “We’ve already raised more than $2,000 before we even depart for Darwin and are hoping to smash a fundraising goal of $5,000 with the help of readers and viewers of Australian media!”