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The Milk Carton Regatta

The Milk Carton Regatta was Adelaide’s answer to Darwin’s Beer Can Regatta and was first staged at the Patawalonga in 1980.

Along with the Birdman Rally it was staged, sponsored and broadcast live by Channel 10.

Thousands of people would turn up each year at the Pat for a fun day out and watch in amusement and sometimes amazement at some of the milk carton creations that took to the water.

Prizes were offered for the first vessel to cross the finishing line, although many were lost along the way, either sinking or breaking apart.

Crafts came in all shapes and sizes, some with a great degree of sophistication while others were held together with a bit of wire, sticky tape and string, their creators more intent on a day of fun than winning a prize.

Tracey Fieldhouse recollects saving all the milk cartons at home to make a boat at school for the class to complete.

Mark Mywords reminisces about friends testing their creation in the backyard swimming pool “before making some final tweaks for the real thing. Great times!”

And Robert Hodgson remembered his son and a mate built an aeroplane as an entry and won $100. “We still talk about it to this day. It was a fun time”.

The last annual Milk Carton Regatta was held in 1987 after the Patawalonga was deemed to be unsafe for recreational activities.

It was revived by the Variety Club as a one-off event in 2002 when the Patawalonga was again deemed safe.

There was some hope raised back in 2010 that both events could be relaunched by the Holdfast Bay City Council when Mayor Ken Rollond suggested that all that was needed to reintroduce them was for the council to “cover the public liability insurance and safety costs to bring them back to the Bay”. However as far as I am aware nothing has ever eventuated.

2 Responses to The Milk Carton Regatta

  1. Karl June 25, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    Public Liability Insurance….
    What a kill joy!
    It put an end to a good lot of things.

  2. Ersu March 3, 2022 at 11:26 am #

    I was in the last one, in 87, I remember running along the shore line dragging my mate and our failing boat. I remember sinking into the mud past my knees trying to run in black sludge dragging the boat.I was so sick for the next week or two.

    We had so much fun building it and racing on the day. I remember the old man next door sticking his head over the fence to give me milk cartons, and giving me advice to know if we would be buoyant. He was an engineer and he would work out if we had enough cartons to float. (We had too much in the end). I have no clue what position we came in, but I do remember our boat breaking apart, and as kids laughing so hard from the absurdity of it all.

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