In The Race: We've Found Australia's Weirdest Racing Events

Man holding jar of cockroaches over two girls heads

2.99min read

Published 18 December 2015


Getting weird seems to be the trend these days. If it's not dressing up in random attires, most Aussies seem content sending Snapchats with their faces hideously distorted to friends and family, for a laugh.

Australia is home to racing greats – Phar Lap, Webber, Thorpie – so it's only natural our passions for racing and the quirky have merged.

You won't see any of the big names on this list, just a bunch of unusual events that probably shouldn't have been inaugurated.

Ah well. Let's get weird.

Australia Day Cockroach Races - Brisbane, QLD

Every year the Story Bridge Hotel hosts Australia Day's biggest racing event involving cockroaches. This isn't a gee-up, closing off an entire street for about 14 races throughout the day from 12pm to 4.30pm.

With around 2,000 avid cockroach punters getting amongst the live bands and flowing booze, the racing is fiercely slow, but that doesn't deter anyone from cheering on their roach. That's right, most of the racers are home-trained, but there is a house stable for those who'd rather buy a roach for $5 than attempt to catch one.

Wife Carrying Championships - Singleton, NSW



Real men...carry their wives 275 yards on their back. #nosweat #wifecarrying #nobigthing A photo posted by Cody Hall (@_codyryanhall_) on

Less a ball and chain, and more of a constant weight from the shoulders down, these wives give their husbands plenty of moral support (and extra luggage) as they're carried through an elaborate obstacle course.

Technically it doesn't have to be a wife – girlfriend, sister or even grandma will suffice. The winners hoist Australia's wife carrying title and travel to Finland to represent the country in the world championships.

In the age of gender equality, it might be time to start the first Hubby Carrying Championships.

Other great Aussie events!

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Beer Can Regatta - Darwin, NT

It's no secret Australia has a surplus of empty beer cans. The Lions Clubs of Darwin have gotten together and created an event that turns those tinnies into a full day of entertainment, competition and charitable donations (this year they raised $30,000 for Helping People Achieve).

The task is simple: build a boat from beer cans (or soft drink cans if you want to avoid the hangover) and be the first team to finish the race. There are prizes for best sea vessel, a Mario Kart-esque boat race with flour bombs and water guns, and thong throwing among other competitions.

Most of the can vessels sink before finishing, so if you make it to the finish line you've earned your next beer. The 2016 regatta takes place 17 July, so it's time to get guzzling.

Cane Toad Racing - Magnetic Island, QLD



Because what else do you do on the last night of your honeymoon ... #rustynayadventures #honeymoon #canetoadraces #magneticisland A photo posted by Naomi Dionysius (@naomidionysius) on

On the small Magnetic Island off the coast of Queensland, rabid punters flock to Arcadia Village Hotel on Wednesday nights for the weekly cane toad races. There's never been a more intense atmosphere when it comes to these serial pests.

Each toad has a ribbon for easy identification and most people gamble based on size, colour or name. Ultimately, not picking the toad that prefers to play statue comes down to luck – which is all part of the fun.

All proceeds go to the local Surf Life Saving Club.

Crab Racing - Sydney, NSW


a classic Aussie pub. The eclectic Friend in Hand Hotel

A photo posted by @photographer_downunder on

It seems like all the crazies come out on Wednesdays. Step into the Friend In Hand Pub in Glebe, Sydney, on hump day for the 8pm kickoff of Crab Racing. The weekly Crab Racing competition involves a bucket of hermit crabs all vying for first place, and a crowd of excited onlookers all praying they've backed the right one.

The event has its own dedicated (and slightly creepy) mascot, along with a bikini-clad hostess. Jugs of beer for $10 don't go unappreciated either.

Henley On Todd Regatta - Alice Springs, NT



Utter Alice Springs madness @ #henleyontoddregatta with #henleyontoddassaabloy A photo posted by on

Another regatta, but this one doesn't take place on water. The races involve custom-made boats and human-sized hamster wheels all powered by the competitors' legs as they sprint along the dusty track.

If you're not part of the Bring Your Own Boat race, you can turn up on the day and put your team's name forward to race one of the pre-built vessels.

The grand finale is the Battle Of The Boats, where three war ships - Buccaneers, Vikings and Navy – fight across the Seven Sands with flour and water bomb cannons, along with high-powered hoses.

Featured Image: Australia Day Cockroach Races

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