October 21, 2014

Each year in October, on the Saturday night closest to the full moon, dozens of people take to kayaks and canoes and paddle 111km down the Hawkesbury from Windsor to Brooklyn.

The Hawkesbury Canoe Classic is a community event that raises money for a different charity each year, in a moonlit show of camaraderie and spirit. This year, the event takes place on 25 October, and funds raised will go to the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation.

The first group of paddlers will leave Windsor at 4pm and, during the night, all competitors will pass 21 safety checkpoints manned by volunteers and land crew – there to provide moral support, stoke campfires, feed the weary paddlers and make sure everyone stays safe.

The average competitor takes 15 hours to complete the trip, although the fastest arrive in Brooklyn in less than 10 hours.

The event began in 1977, when members of the NSW Outward Bound Ex-Students Association organised a canoe race along the river they had paddled during their course. That first race attracted 250 paddlers and raised $8,500 for medical research. Now in its 38th year, the Classic draws around 600 paddlers and raises more than $350,000 annually.

Originally taking place overnight because of the calmer weather conditions and lighter traffic on the river, these practical reasons were soon far outweighed by the amazing experience of paddling by moonlight.

It has a beauty and magic that has kept certain competitors coming back time and time again – including John Harmer, who was one of the original paddlers in 1977 and has completed every race since.

For more information visit their website and for entries email entries@canoeclassic.asn.au or phone 02 4976 3802.

Another event you can check out with the family this weekend that was also featured on our blog, is The Sydney Blues & Roots Festival. It is running for its sixth year and will come to Windsor on 23-26 October. Tickets are on sale now from their website with early bird three-day passes for just $139.

Expect more at Vermont

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