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Reproduced courtesy of Laurence Bell

Slide of Beer Can Regatta 1978

Date: 28 May 1978
Overall: 49 x 49 x 2 mm, 3 g
Medium: 35mm photographic slide
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Mr Laurence Bell
Object Copyright: © Laurence Bell
Object Name: Photographic slide
Object No: ANMS1304[026]

User Terms

    HistoryThe world's first Beer Can Regatta was organised by the Darwin Regional Tourist Promotion Association as one of Darwin's dry season's attraction and to raise money for charity. The idea of the regatta came from Paul Rice-Chapman with the first beer can boat being built by businessman Lutz Frankenfeld of the Darwin Regional Tourist Promotion Association. Together they organised the inaugural Beer Can Regatta which was held at Vestey's Beach in Darwin on 16th June 1974, drawing a crowd of between 15 and 20,000 people which represented half the population at that time of Darwin.

    In 1975 considerable pessimism surrounded the planning of the second regatta with many believing the residents of Darwin would have little interest in building boats when they were preoccupied with reconstructing their homes and lives after the devastation caused by Cyclone Tracy in Christmas 1974 and with many past committee members having been transferred elsewhere. Instead it was another success and continues to be held annually

    The World Cup (called the City Motors Trophy when the Regatta was first held) was originally sculpted by the late Northern Territory artist Herbert Knoll and represents the first Beer Can Boat built in the world by Lutz Frankenfeld.

    The programs were collected and photographs taken (with the exception of one whaling slide) by accountant Laurence Bell. In the mid 1970s he was working in the Northern Territory on the pastoral property Mudginberri, approximately 250 kms east of Darwin, and met Jabiluka Mining Lease workers from the neighbouring Jabiluka Camp (also called Ja Ja Camp). In 1978 the workers were sponsored by their company Pan Continental to build a beer can boat and compete in the Regatta. The resulting boat, built to a viking design, was named Pan-Can. The photos taken of the workers training for the event in the Pan-Can were taken at Island Billabong which was located on Muginberri.

    The Jabiluka Mining Lease was formerly part of Muginberri until it was resumed by the Northern Territory Government in the early 1970s. This lease, together with the adjoining Ranger Uranium Lease is now surrounded by Kakadu National Park. This was also one of the locations used in the making of the 1986 Australian film Crocadile Dundee, a film showcasing the bush savvy larrikin Aussie character. This character resonates strongly with those involved with the Darwin Beer Can Regatta

    Slides of the whaling station at Cheynes Bay in the W. A. port of Albany were taken in 1977 by Laurence Bell with the exception of the slide with L. Bell's identifying number 308A W.A. which was purchased by him around the same time. This was the last operational whaling station on the Western Australian coast, closing after the Australian Government of the day banned whaling across Australia in 1979. Albany now hosts a thriving whale watching industry. When the Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior docked in the Western Australian port on 4th September 2005 to highlight the region's successful whale watching industry it was hailed by environmental activists on board as a resounding commercial and environmental success. (ABC News Online)

    Related People
    Photographer: Laurence Bell

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