When I lived back in Canberra, there was always one regatta that I loved the most – That was the Flowing Festival regatta held in Jindabyne, New South Wales. It was a ski town in the mountains with the most pristine water to paddle in, and the atmosphere was amazing too; markets and carnival rides all lined up along the shoreline, with music blaring from the start line and a great festival feel about it. Each of the dragon heads used on the boats had different colours and different faces – some with jewels, some with ribbons, and the boats were nicknamed “bathtubs” as they were so old, and as a drummer I had to sit on the nose of the boat without a chair. It was the best weekend away with my team mates, and it was my absolute favourite regatta.
Moving to Melbourne I knew I’d miss that regatta the most, but I definitely still travel around a lot with the team. However I was super excited when The Falls Creek regatta was announced because it was incredibly similar to Jindabyne. Falls Creek, a little ski town, up in the mountains, with pristine waters and a good 5 hour drive away from Melbourne requiring an overnight stay – meaning a great opportunity to bond with my coach and team mates.
My boyfriend, Reece, and I drove down to Falls Creek on Friday night after work, dodging wombats, and winding around the mountain roads after our GPS took us on a delightful detour out to Sunbury. Luckily, we were both amused by this and laughed about how we a) ended up in Sunbury, b) ended up on a rollercoaster of a country road (literally. Steepest descent ever!) and c) trekked along dirt roads before d) driving down the shadiest looking road ever and finding our accommodation at Falls Creek around 11pm.
Reece and I bunked down with in the boys cabin with Darren, Tim, Armin and John and we were delighted by the abundance of hot tubs and saunas within our accommodation. We set out for the regatta early the next morning and drove down to the race course, which reminded me so much of Jindabyne. That made me so happy! Beautiful mountain scenery, crystal blue water, clear skies …. Yup, being in the mountains was gorgeous enough, let alone being able to paddle my first regatta in such great water.
Yes, you heard right folks …. I just paddled my very first regatta EVER in the 6 years of me doing this sport! I drummed two crews, the opens and the women’s and paddled in the mixed which was action packed.
My first race paddling, I shared with a lovely girl from Yarra River Dragons, Jordie, who had kindly filled in some seats on our team for us. For Jordie and I it was our first regatta paddling, and indeed our first race EVER and what should happen? Another boat runs into the side of us! I’m not even kidding … I’m doing my thang, paddlin’ my little heart out and in my peripheral vision I see this dragon head getting closer to me and I begin to think “Oh they’re gaining on us”, but then this dragon head gets a little bit closer, and then TOO close and before I know it, it’s hit the side of the boat I’m paddling on. Jordie and I have our paddles in the air, Darren (who was steering) was trying to push the other boat away from us, and we could feel the boat do this LURCH which only happens when you’re about to capsize … I remember thinking “That’d be right! My first race paddling and we capsize!” but we all somehow managed to hold on and finish the race in our lane and without any injuries. See? DRAMA. And it wasn’t even a 2km race!
Our opens crew missed out on making the finals, but they had some wicked competition, and the team we took down was only a small one. Yarra River Dragons were again out in force and looking fiiiiiiine on the water. They’re going to be HOT at Nationals this year, I can tell.
Our Women’s crew … Now this was awesome. We called ourselves the Flaming Storm because we were 1/2 boat Melbourne Flames and 1/2 Southern Storm paddlers. Despite the fact that we had never paddled together before, and indeed never met each other before being put into a boat together, we raced fast and hard and ended up walking away with a second place. Second to, you guessed it, Yarra River Dragons. So a pretty damn good effort!
Look at that beautiful trophy! And look at this new group of friends!
So after we wrapped up the regatta it was time for the after party. Y’all like party stories, right? Well, we started off by having a few drinks in the hot tubs and reminiscing on other regattas and Nationals and afterparties. Again, I bunked down with the boys (I had to be the girl that broke up the sausage fest in the hot tub. The “Chickie Buffer” if you please) and after our delightful hot tub and drinks, we got ready for dinner.
We had a team dinner at a little Italian joint up in the mountains which was amazing – I had to try hard not to eat everything everything that wasn’t nailed down. The pizza smelled amazing but I went for pasta instead. After cheers’ing to a great regatta and having some food, we met up with Yarra River Dragons and played some soccer, before moving on to playing some Bocce.
After chilling out in the evening light, we decided to move back to the accommodation for some more fun. Everyone came down to our bunk, and we decided to crack out some drinks and some cards and have ourselves a Melbourne Flames party!
To start with, I want to say that our coach is a VERY bad influence on me when it comes to drinking vodka (3 shots in a row, Serge! Na Zdorovie!) and secondly I want to say that he is also very good at playing cards. I, on the other hand …. DISMAL. I can’t remember the name of the game we were playing, but the only object of the game was NOT to lose, and you bet your ass I lost ever time lol. We had a great time playing several rounds of this mystery game, which Reece ended up winning every time he played. (that’s how games usually work in our house! Reece wins, I lose!)
So after our evening wrapped up we all rolled into bed. You really can’t argue with that for an after party … Drinks, hot tubs, games and cards. 10 out of 10: Would recommend.
You can check out some of the photos I took at Falls Creek on the Melbourne Flames Instagram page, and indeed other pictures I take! I am, afterall, part of their social media team!
Next thing coming up? State team trials. Then the Chinese New Year Regatta in Footscray! Two very exciting things coming up. I’ll keep you posted on how everything pans out.
Until then, this little drummer girl has one hell of a hangover to nurse! #weak