The Far North Coast Canoe Club in Lismore was recognised at the 2023 Paddle Awards for their continued resilience in response to the disastrous 2022 NSW floods, with outgoing President Andrea McQuitty bestowing her final President’s Award on the remarkable club.
In February last year, the biggest flood in modern Australian history inundated Lismore and the Northern Rivers, leaving hundreds of thousands stranded.
Now more than a year and a half later, the Far North Coast Canoe Club (FNCCC) is still without power or plumbing, but continues to operate in the face of adversity due to sheer determination and outstanding community spirit.
The flood waters rose more than 14 meters to the third floor of the Clubhouse
FNCCC President Christine Porter was in attendance at the 2023 Paddle Awards, unaware that the club she represented had been singled out until the official announcement.
“It was really wonderful for the club to be recognised with the President’s Award. To be an ordinary club amongst all these extraordinary athletes and organisers fills me and the club with pride,” she said.
“All that we do to rally has been built over years and years of living in a flood prone town. We have systems in place and it’s really a Lismore thing. The rain comes in, the river goes up, the river goes down and we get stuck into the clean up.
“The hard thing about this last one was that it was such a big one, we had so much to clean up, and I think that’s the reason why we’re still struggling. Regardless, our club members are incredible and our club is going to continue to grow and continue to thrive.”
Boats after the flood
And thrive the club has, not losing a single member over the last 18 months despite the challenges facing the entirety of the region.
“We’re so lucky to have a great club community that just loves to paddle. Soon, we will have electricity on again, we’ll be able to do more ‘come and try’ sessions, and run more races. For the time being, we will enjoy just being out on the water.”
The FNCCC is made up of paddlers with a wide range of interests and experience levels, with Porter and the club ready to welcome new members or passing paddle enthusiasts with open arms.
“If you’re in Lismore or nearby, please come on down and join us for a paddle on Saturday mornings,” said Porter.
“There’s something for everyone at our little club. We’ve got some duck watchers, we’ve got a guy who picks up rubbish every single week, we’ve got some speedsters and have even had a number of paddlers from our club go on to represent Australia as well. But really, we’re all about enjoying our paddling and a cup of tea afterwards, it’s up to you where you want to take it.
“Come and join us, it’s really fun!”
The FNCCC comes together for a paddle each week on Saturday mornings from 8am, with the community session followed almost immediately by morning tea. Non-members are welcome.