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The Great Dragon Boat Race

Updated on October 17, 2014

It's War on Water!

I've fallen in love with Dragon Boats!

Races are held down at the Melbourne Docklands, and you'll see me there, watching the dragon-boat racing championships.

The solid beat of drums will accompany frightening-looking dragon heads, the crews will give their gallant best and the boats will stab through the water to reach the finish line. And I'll be there!

Dragon Boat in Darling Harbour

Dragon Boat, Sydney, during festivities for Chinese New Year
Dragon Boat, Sydney, during festivities for Chinese New Year

The Dragon Boat Festival

Way back in the Zhou Dynasty, there was a man named Qu Yuan who served as minister to Emperor Zhou. After hearing that Zhou's kingdom had been defeated, Qu Yuan threw himself into the river in despair.

Villagers and fisherman headed out onto the river in long boats, trying desperately to save Qu Yuan but were too late to do so. To keep fish and evil spirits away from his body, they beat drums and thrashed the water with paddles. They also threw rice into the water both as a food offering to Qu Yuan's spirit and also to distract the fish away from his body

So, to commemorate Qu Yuan, we have the Dragon Boat Festival. There are two happy ways to celebrate - having dragon boat races and eating zongzi.

Qu Yuan

Qu Yuan in a dragon boat
Qu Yuan in a dragon boat

A statue of Qu Yuan in a dragon boat on one of Singapore's central streets as a display for the Dragon Boat Festival

Adrian Wong, Dragon Boat Man
Adrian Wong, Dragon Boat Man

Adrian Wong introduced me to Dragon Boat racing

I had the pleasure of working with Adrian at Radio 3CR and though all of our numerous discussions on current affairs, politics and the fine art of broadcasting, his involvement with Dragon Boat racing somehow never came up. When it did, I was an instant fan.

Adrian is the State Team Manager for Dragon Boat Victoria, and he wields a hefty paddle himself.

Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes

I picked up this handy collection to discover the stories behind the trappings of Chinese festivals. I always like to know the history, the stories, behind any celebration. I enjoy knowing the significance of festivities and I enjoy, also, the chance to pass on the meaning to the younger ones.

Fabulous Fun for the Family.The grandchildren are delighted - and so am I

Dragon Boats in Action - The Women Crews awe me!

How about you?

Have you ever watched a Dragon Boat Race?

See results

The lure of gold brought many thousands to Australia, including Chinese. By 1861, the Chinese community was already thriving, making up nearly 7% of the Victorian population and Melbourne’s Little Bourke Street became a bustling centre for Chinese cultural and business activity. It still is.

So the history of the Chinese in Melbourne is no different to the history of the Europeans who came here. But they have Dragon Boat races!


© 2012 Susanna Duffy

Thrash your paddle in my Guestbook

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    • nebby profile image

      nebby 6 years ago from USA

      It sounds like it would be so much fun. Love the Dragon Boat cake decorating kit. While I may never get to see a Dragon Boat race it would be fun decorating a cool looking cake.

    • victoriuh profile image

      victoriuh 6 years ago

      That looks like fun!

    • dixiebliss profile image

      dixiebliss 6 years ago

      I love this lens! Dragons are my favorites, and I've always been in love with water... So the mixing of the two is awesome!

    • profile image

      dorndaks 6 years ago

      I like boating, but can not swim

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      It would be nice to see a dragon boat race, maybe one day I will come and watch it!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      It would be nice to see a dragon boat race, maybe one day I will come and watch it!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh, I wish I could remember the name of the woman who wrote a lens about dragon boat races in Cambodia (I think). What a celebration they have there! I would so like to introduce the two of you. Wonderful pic of the racers. I wanted to jump in the water and swim alongside!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Love boats. This looks like great fun.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 6 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting lens, it would be nice to see the dragon boats race. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Joan4 6 years ago

      Oh I would love to see the Great Dragon Boat Race! What fun!

    • profile image

      boutiqueshops 6 years ago

      How wonderful to have the chance to see The Great Dragon Boat Race! Take lots of pictures and be sure to tell us (and show us) all about it!

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 6 years ago

      The Great Dragon Boat Race looks so festive! Seems I saw something like that in a movie once, or maybe I'm thinking of the Viking ships. Exciting!

    • profile image

      GenesisLabs 6 years ago

      Very interesting lens. Wish I could go to a dragon boat race around my parts, my little son would love it. Thanks for letting me learn about something new and interesting.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh lucky you! I'd love to watch the dragon boats in action.

    • vanidiana24 profile image

      vanidiana24 6 years ago

      Must be exciting to watch! I'd like to when I have a chance.

    • Missmerfaery444 profile image

      Missmerfaery444 6 years ago

      Would love to watch a dragon boat race! Looks really exciting.

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 6 years ago

      I love Chinese dragons and this race looks exciting!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      This looks exciting.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 6 years ago

      Looks like wonderful fun - I've heard of them, but never witnessed. Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I watch a few race when I used to live in Montreal. It's quite colorful and entertaining.

    • kislanyk profile image

      Marika 6 years ago from Cyprus

      That's new to me too, interesting.

    • LauraMarie LM profile image

      LauraMarie LM 6 years ago

      Never even heard of dragon boats before! Thanks for educating me :)