Gunnedah enjoys the Oz Day exercise

GUNNEDAH celebrated Australia Day in typical style on Sunday – with a sporting smorgasbord.

The town is well-known for its Australia Day festivities, which includes a range of sporting activities from triathlon to dog races, raft races to touch football shoot-out and swimming and running events.

This year’s event saw plenty of colour and good crowd and participant numbers.

“We had a great day,” organiser John Hickey said.

“It was one of the best Australia Days for atmosphere and fun had.”

He put that down, at least in part, to people “adapting to what Australia Day is about here in Gunnedah”.

And that’s getting out there and having a go.

One of the most pleasing things was the number of young kids who participated.

“There were so many young kids involved yesterday, which is really exciting,” Hickey said.

“Out at the raft race there were certainly more kids there.”

The raft and craft race is one of the features of the day’s activities, and can be “very interesting”.

“People make up some very different style of craft,” Hickey said.

The overall winner was Argentinean Felix Martin in a kayak. 

“We also had a young Frenchman in the race and a young German,” Hickey said.

Both are doing farm stays in the areas.

There were  a lot of families involved too.

“A lot of people turned up to not only watch their kids but grandkids,” Hickey said.

“We had three generations around the place.”

He said a lot of people watched the raft races, sprint races, dog races and touch shoot-out.

“It was  probably the biggest crowd for the touch football shoot-out we’ve ever had,” he said.

That was split into women’s, men’s and mixed.

Leah Schofield and Lisa Steele took out the women’s from mother and daughter combination Peta and Khobi Devine.

Steele also teamed up with Jamie Mitchell to win the mixed from Hickey and daughter Sarah.

In the men’s, Kye McDonald and Brady Eason beat Mitchell and brother Cameron.

The triathlons got things underway.

Megan Isbester won the women’s and Braden Ludlow the men’s, with pre-race favourite Jack Hickey finishing sixth.

Hickey did well to finish the race though after suffering a tyre puncture during the bike leg.

He drove back home, got a new wheel, finished the leg and the race.

Hickey went on to win the men’s magic mile from Ludlow, while Isbester did the double and won the women’s.

The day finished with the Splash for Cash and saw a particularly impressive swim from Charlie Crawford to win the male.

“He’s only 15 and not too far off the 50m record,” Hickey said.

Beth Andran also did well. She won the U12s and backed up to finish third behind elder sister Monica in the opens.

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