Gunnedah ready for big Oz Day

GUNNEDAH’S Australia Day sports festivities are just as crafty and rafty as usual.

Tomorrow’s huge sporting day in the land of koalas starts with a 7am women’s triathlon and finishes just over 12 hours later with some splashing For cash at the local pool.

In between, there’s junior triathlons, raft and craft races, 100m Dash For Cashes, touch football shootouts and even canine races.

John Hickey has been organising the Australia Day sporting activities for a couple of decades and enjoys the vast contrast in sporting activities run to celebrate the national day.

“It’s a lot of fun,”Hickey said.

“It all kicks off with the women’s triathlon at 7am and then the kiddies’ triathlons, the 12 and Under and 14 and Under.”

Hickey is a renowned triathlon coach of long standing and also the NIAS triathlon head coach.

The highlight of tomorrow’s activities might just be the raft and craft race.

Statring at Cushan’s Reserve, it flows down to Cohen’s Bridge and draws a huge spectator “fleet” to the Namoi River as well as “80 to 90 different crafts”.

The ingenuity of some of the raft and craft makers is hilarious, Hickey reckons.

Following the river section is the 100m Dash for Cash races and a touch football shootout as well.

“Somewhere in between there we will have the dog races,” Hickey said.

A more recent innovation, sparked by the Great Nundle Dog race, the dog racing is split into divisions for working dogs, mutts and family pets.

It drew some varied combinations last year and Hickey is sure it will be a poochful of fun in 2014.

The Splash For Cash swimming events follow the 6pm men’s triathlon and are all 50m sprints for men, women and children.

“It’s a big day,”  Hickey said.

“Hopefully we will be finished by 7.30pm.”

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