The inaugural Festival of Canoe and Kayak (F.O.C.K.) has had a successful launch on the NSW South Coast.
The three-day event in Gangurang, Kangaroo Valley, saw hundreds of festivalgoers show up for the inclusive, accessible and family-friendly event.
“It was amazing to see paddlers from all walks of life turning up with all kinds of canoes, kayaks and other paddle-craft in tow,” Festival Director, Dylan Jones said.
“There were people in homemade wooden canoes, dragon boats and an epic 30-foot canoe (almost 9 meters long) that fit 14 people!” Jones said.
With free and paid-for events, Saturday night showcased the highlight event, the ‘Frock up for the F.O.C.K.’. Paddlers dressed up in tuxes, formal dresses (even princess outfits!) and stylishly paddled down the Kangaroo River for sunset.
Sunday involved the first-ever floating concert on Lake Yarunga where musicians on floating stages played to a floating crowd in canoes.
F.O.C.K. paddlers also joined forces and formed a benchmark World Record for the most people-powered, paddle-propelled watercraft floating in a line.
“We were also delighted to see so many people having their first paddling experience in such an amazing location,” Jones said.
“Everyone had a ball and it really felt like a great weekend. We’re already gearing up for an even bigger F.O.C.K. next year,” Jones said.
Amongst all the action, F.O.C.K. is dedicated to building meaningful dialogue with Traditional Owners and ensuring that Aboriginal people are embraced in the event socially, culturally, and economically.
Guest speaker Michael Palmer, who represents the Aboriginal social enterprise Eden Canoes, shared how canoe culture is making a difference in the small coastal community of Eden. Attendees were invited to a morning corroboree and had the opportunity to partake in some canoe-painting fun with the team from Eden Canoes.
“We are loving the valley’s greater consciousness around indigenous history, heritage, and culture. It helps us learn and grow with the kids,” a festivalgoer said.
The event is set to become an annual celebration offering paddling enthusiasts and the canoe-curious a unique chance to gather and celebrate culture and community.
For those interested in attending next year’s event held June 22-25, head to the F.O.C.K Website
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