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Byron Shire
December 5, 2023

Epic duck race coming to Ballina

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Good weather for ducks! Rotary’s Jodie Shelley, Michael Jones and Col Lee with a mystery duck getting close to the Richmond River to promote the forthcoming duck race. Photo David Lowe.

The Rotary Duck Race is on again at Fawcett Park, Ballina, from 11am-3pm on Sunday 16 January, with big prizes, all raising funds for community charities.

Michael Jones is the Foundation Director and resident duck expert at the Rotary Club of Ballina-on-Richmond. He told The Echo the duck racing event started in Ballina in 1992, making this the 30th anniversary.

What can people expect?

Mr Jones said, ‘It’s going to be a family fun day. We’re going to have a barbecue, with snow cones and freshly made donuts. There’ll be a coffee stall, and we’ll have a band that goes from 11am until 3pm.’

Rotary’s Jodie Shelley and Michael Jones with some well-dressed corporate ducks representing Ballina businesses. Photo David Lowe.

In terms of duck action, there will be three main events. First up is the judging of the best-dressed ducks. ‘We sell those to companies for $50 each,’ explained Mr Jones. ‘They decorate them to represent their business. The winner gets a trophy.’

Then the corporate ducks race down the Richmond River, from near the wharf, aided by the wind and current. ‘They’ve got a bit of a distance to travel and they do take their time sometimes!’ said Mr Jones.

The third event is the community duck race. ‘With that one, we sell tickets for $5 each, or 3 for $10,’ explained Mr Jones.

‘There’s a number on the ticket and all the ducks are numbered. If the number that goes first past the post is on your ticket, you get $500 from Harvey Norman. The second place gets $200 from Ballina Fair, and the third place gets $100 from PETstock.’

Serious money in rubber duck racing

More corporate ducks ready for race day. Photo David Lowe.

Michael Jones says the Ballina duck race has raised a quarter of a million dollars over thirty years. ‘And that’s gone to a lot of local and children’s charities,’ he said.

‘This year, we’re on target for a net $10,000. And that will be going to the Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Lifesaving club, Paradise FM, and Northern Rivers Animal Services. We all have a jolly good time and then go home!’

The judges this year will be a panel of three, including Ballina’s new Mayor Sharon Cadwallader and local Rotary President Col Lee, who assures The Echo he is immune to improper inducements of any kind.

Find out more about the Rotary Duck Race and buy tickets here.

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