Floods, fields and those bloody fences: The ‘Big Clarence’ was a big river adventure

Have you ever paddled a flooded river? Have you ever navigated barbed-wire fences, dodged submerged trees and paddled around a farmer’s shed? Well after this weekend, competitors of the inaugural “Big Clarence” can tick all those items off their bucket list.

The Clarence River is a long, wide and rather beautiful waterway in Australia. The local indigenous name, Breimba, literally means “Big River” and it often lives up to that title — sometimes with deadly effect. The region was devastated by floods a few months ago where many people died and thousands lost their homes. This weekend’s race was supposed to pay respects to them. It wasn’t supposed to recreate similar conditions.   → READ MORE

Meet ‘Clarence,’ possibly the “biggest” new name in Aussie paddling

Australia has always been a curious paddling nation. The country that’s produced more talent than any other eternally struggles with events; the home of Travis, Terrene and Boothy hasn’t ever housed too many big races. With the exception of the 12 Towers (beloved but now gone) and King of the Cut (so far west it’s a five-hour flight), Aussie paddlers have generally looked to Europe, Asia and North America for opportunities.

But while the sport is squarely centered on the Northern Hemisphere, our Southern outpost has one thing going for it: The community.    → READ MORE