BOWEN’S biggest event – the Don River Dash – won’t be kicking up sand along the dry riverbed for another five months but the background work to get it up and running has been grinding away since last November.
Event secretary Wanita Sparr had barely two months to relax, after the 2022 dash, before getting back to the grindstone for this year’s event on September 7 and 8.
“I start booking the facilities in November, things such as porta-loos, shower blocks, medics and security guards,” she said.
Then there is a long list of approvals to obtain, starting with approval from the Don River Trust, a Whitsunday Regional Council event application, police involvement, road closures, insurance, consultation with farmers, whose land borders the river, a liquor licence and food vendors.
Miss Sparr said the Dash – to be held this year from September 8 to 10 – is promoted via a PR firm working for Tourism Whitsundays.
However, social media also gave it a high profile, plus word-of-mouth from competitors in the racing fraternity and die-hard fans of the exhilarating sport and, of course, the local newspaper.
“The race is its own living, breathing entity – if you build it, they will come,” she said.
“Due to the type of course we have, and the facilities we have access to, the race will end up being capped but we have not hit the limit yet, we are still building.”
Miss Sparr said it was difficult to gauge numbers of people who attend, as the event was spread over three days.
“As the event is three days and spread over three venues, plus it’s not a ticketed event, it’s tough to say how many attend the event,” she said.
“This year, we are looking into a QR code system to capture the numbers and gather statistics, which will assist with grants and providing data to sponsors.
“The event has exponentially grown, there is no doubt.”
Many of the competitors camp at the Bowen Showgrounds, while others booked at hotel, motel and camping grounds when they left last year.
Due to the seasonal nature of the town, and the influx of grey nomads at this time of year, accommodation can be hard to find if visitors are booking at the last minute, Miss Sparr said.
Miss Sparr is unsure of the economic value of the Dash to the region but said it was the biggest event in Bowen and only slightly behind the more established Whitsunday attractions, Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island Race Weeks.
The only thing it was lacking was more volunteers and corporate sponsors, Miss Sparr said.