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Henley-On-Todd-Regatta Alice Springs, Australia - 19 August 2017


Getting There

Getting There

nearest bus station:
Alice Springs Greyhound Bus Station on Gap Road.

shuttle bus:
Alice Wanderer Shuttle to Alice Springs centre.

nearest airport:
Alice Springs (ASP)

nearest train station:
Alice Springs Railway Station on George Crescent.

From Alice Springs Airport

For dry regatta contestants flying into Alice Springs, the Airport shuttle bus service is actually called Alice Wanderer. Airport transfers deliver passengers to the town centre and drop-off/picks points at hotels and hostels. The shuttle service office is on Todd Street opposite the Tourism Centre.

Alice Wanderer

The Ghan Train to Alice Springs

Alice Springs is served by the Adelaide-Darwin Transcontinental Line called The Ghan Train, which has the look and feel of the old Oriental Express. It’s a historic line operated by Great Southern Railway, with trains running only twice a week.

Middle of Nowhere

Alice Springs is literally in the MIDDLE of nowhere since it’s roughly 1,500 km from Adelaide on the one side and another 1,500 km from Darwin on the other with nothing much in-between. The journey by train, over 13 hours, or self-driving for two days, or taking the bus for two or more days, may be rather gruelling, albeit adventurous. However, it’s not as daunting as it sounds to get to this outback town and its water-free regatta, since there are daily flights to Alice Springs Airport from Adelaide, Ayers Rock, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth & Sydney, and a few from Brisbane.

Distances From Alice Spring to Australian Airports

Alice Springs Airport is only about 10 km from town, but...
check out the distances from Alice Spring to other Australian airports:

  • 464 km to Ayers Rock-Uluru Airport.
  • 1,500 km to Darwin Airport.
  • 1,532 km to Adelaide Airport.
  • 2,248 km to Melbourne Airport.
  • 2,428 km to Cairns Airport.
  • 2.756 km to Sydney Airport.
  • 3,194 km to Brisbane Airport.
  • 3,594 km to Perth Airport



change currency
Prices in the table are quoted in AUD
Full pass30Family Pass: 2 Adults + 2 Children.
Adult15Henley On Todd Ticket (15+).
Youth5Youth & Child (4-14).
Child0Children under 4 enter free.
Henley-on-Todd Tickets
  • Henley on Todd tickets* are for spectators & participants.
  • It’s not essential to have your own boat to participate in races. 
  • To enter the ’BYO boat race’, you must have you rown vessel.
  • Participants can register the morning of the event or online.




Henley-On-Todd-Regatta icon

Alice Springs, Australia

Todd River
type of festival
boating & sailing, silly fun, competitions
other events
culture: beach party, for kids
start Sat, 19 August 2017
end Sat, 19 August 2017

Henley-On-Todd Regatta: Water-free

Henley On Todd Regatta is a wacky waterless sailing, rowing, yachting, kayaking and nautically-themed land race, held on the third Saturday in August, on a dried-up riverbed with bottomless vessels carried by crews who race on foot (like Fred Flintstone in his footmobile) in an event dreamed up (over beers with friends) by meteorologist Reg Smith in 1962 as a charity fundraiser for the Rotary Club. Madcap contests that anyone can enter and don’t require equipment (excluding “Bring Your Own Boat” & “Battle of the Boats”) include a tug of war, rowing boats, sailing yachts, surfing, carrying kayaks, conducting rescue missions & scrambling in a giant wheel across the sand at the dry Todd riverbed, 1500 km from water, in Alice Springs Australia.


Henley-On-Todd Regatta: Water-free

On the morning of the Regatta, a water-free boat race parade traipses down Alice Springs Todd Mall to where events occur at the dry Todd riverbed, featuring “Bring Your Own Boat” (BYOB) where vessels must ‘resemble’ a boat & crews must race to a buoy then back to complete the course. Competitors also vie to win the BYOB awards. There’s rowing, yachting, rescuing & skiing. Rowing involves crews of 4-8 carrying their funky crafts to a buoy then back to the finish. “Mini Yacht” & “Maxi Yachters” do likewise but with crews of 6-10. “Surf Rescue” teams paddle-shovel through sand on rails to save a damsel-in-distress and “Sand Ski” crews traverse sand on water-skis.

Bathtubs, Kayaks, Surfing & Tug-of-war

“Bath Tub Derby” involves carrying a woman & a bucket of water, “Oxford Tubs” requires shovel-paddling & the “Kayak” race is about carrying a kayak along a slalom course. “Tour d Todd” is cycling in a cage-wheel; “Boogie Board” gets crews to tow a board with a ‘wave’ surfer standing (or kneeling), and “Anchor the Boat” is a boat tug-of-war.

Battle of the Boats Finale

One of the regatta’s pièce de résistance is for Rotary members and their land-adapted naval fleets that include Viking boats, battle ships & pirate vessels supercharged by 4-wheel drives. The combat includes flour-bombing pirate attacks, water cannon blasts by Viking ships and nasty-dusty nautical tactics to win the “Battle of the Boats”.

Henley On Todd Regatta is a madcap waterless regatta in a dried-up river in Australia!

contributor: Festinga
published: 18 August 2015
updated: 18 October 2016
Age: Family, a family event with something for everyone
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General: popular, best in the world
Ambiance: outdoor, rural, desert, beach
Features: bizzare, self-expression, debauchery, partying, adventure, survival, self-discovery

Todd River Regatta

Whether you’re lost, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere amidst the Australian outback (and it happens to be the third Saturday in August) or you take the 13-hour Ghan Train (from Adelaide to Alice Springs, traversing 1,559 km, or from Darwin to Alice Springs, covering 1,420 km) to the zany events at the Henley-On-Todd Regatta, it’ll be well worth the $15 fee (which goes to charity) to watch or participate in one of the world’s strangest water-free boating events.

  • Main venue is the dry Todd Riverbed.
  • Morning registration & parade starting point is the Memorial Club Rally & Parade site on Gap Road & Stuart Terrace.

Join a Screwball Event

  • Dress up in a wacky naval, pirate or nautically-themed costume & participate!
  • Get friends together & design a bottomless boat to compete in the world’s silliest regatta with 2-10 crew members. Make it light because you’ll have to carry it on sand, propelling yourself and the vessel forward using your feet…like in a Flintstone carton.
  • Join one of the “no equipment” required contests and pretend to surf, sail, row or rescue a damsel while paddling along a track in the sand.
  • Help some strong guys carry a bathtub with a lady inside.
  • Demonstrate your sand shoveling prowess by being the fist to fill a 44-gallon drum.
  • Join a relay race & scramble like a caged rat in a metal-mesh-wheel that you propel across the sand to become the next Tour d Todd cycling champ.
  • Get dragged across the sand on a boogie board and act as if you’re surfing waves.
  • Help bring some boats down in one of the 8-person tug-of- wars.
  • Send the kids to become beach sprinters or to scavenge in the sand for lollipops.

Bring your desert mirage abilities & imagine the shenanigans unfolding in something other than sand…something wet perhaps.
Join in the mad-cap fun or nibble snacks & sip cool beer under an old gum tree beside the…ummmm…river!


Rate & Review

What do you think?

Thank you!


Beds & Eats


Alice Springs Camping

While Todd River Regatta isn’t a camping event, there is camping and caravaning nearby, from outback experiences to luxury campsites with swimming pools.

Alice Springs Accommodation Options


Eats & Drinks: Bars, Food Stalls, Water
Fresh & Clean: no
Cash & Shops: Shops
Zone In & Out: Kids Zone
Accessibility: no
Todd River Amenities
  • There are alcoholic beverage & food stalls at Todd River.
Alice Springs Amenities
  • Alice Springs has cash machines, restaurants, bars & shops.



start Sat, 19 August 2017
end Sat, 19 August 2017
Third Saturday in August

The Regatta is always held (at least for the last fifty years or so) on the 3rd Saturday in August.

Starting Times
  • 9:30 - Competitors must register by 9:30am at the “marshalling point” (Old Memo Club car park on Gap Road).
  • 10:30 - The parade commences sharply at 10:30am.
  • 11:45 - The parade traverses Gap Road to Todd Street, then down Todd Mall to the Henley On Todd site at Todd River where races begin punctually at 11.45am.

Season & Weather

Season: Summer
Temperature: 6 to 22 °C

Ummm... Henley on Todd Regatta takes place in the summer according to western hemispherians, but for those Down Under, it’s winter. Since Alice Springs is situated amidst the red sand deserts of central Australia, it has extreme temperature changes, from freezing night-time lows to daytime highs around 20°C or more. Prepare for sunny, dry, dusty days & chilly-chilly nights. Check the official Australian tourism website that devotes an entire section to Weather in Alice Springs. They say temperature can change "as much as 28°C in one day"!



Tel: + 428 605 674
Henley on Todd Contact
Alice Springs Town Council
Travel NT

Contact Travel NT for:

Australian Tourism Office


  • Henley-On-Todd Regatta: PO Box 1385, Alice Springs Northern Territory 0871, Australia
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