Searching the internet for the meaning of the word Gumi, I was greeted with a district in West Nepal, mobile games for tablets and phones or a shrub from Eastern Asia, however, the meaning of Gumi as taken up by the World Championship Gumi Race, held on the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, Australia, is Pidgin English word for (rubber) inner tube. The ingenuity of the teams in creating their craft using inner tubes from tractor and truck tyres for floatation is amazing. The simplicity of a number of inflated tyres tied together and jumping on top with a couple of friends and paddling down the river, makes for a relaxing, fun day on the river.
However, the event for 2021 has been cancelled due to the Covid Pandemic. So join me down memory lane from 2017 as I revisit the World Championship Gumi race on the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga
The normally quiet, peaceful, although fast flowing Murrumbidgee River, flanked by tall river red gum trees is taken over on a bright sunny Sunday by crafts of all shapes, sizes and made of whatever materials are at hand and when families and mates get together and depending on the objective, paddle as hard and as fast as they can, or simply left the craft float downstream, simply guiding its direction.
The World Championship Gumi Race is a community get together and fun day on the River, it is held in February and the craft, must be home made and manually propelled by paddles or oars. That leaves a lot of leeway to the very creative, with quite a few entrants crafting their vessel from upside down trampolines with truck inner tubes tied underneath for flotation. Craft are highly decorated, or as simple as possible. A couple of vessels with bicycles attached to paddles and the entrants sitting on the seats peddling their way down river for the 7 kilometre length of the race. A team of young, service men and women had a blowup jet as their craft. There was also a wide mouthed shark for the unwary, while others just sat on the inner tube, getting very wet, and quietly paddled their way down river.
All vantage points are taken up, from the overhead rail bridge, to the best spots along the route, and the final landing is at the Wagga Beach, a lovely sandy spot for a summer swim and most of the spectators are sitting on the lawns and having a picnic lunch waiting for their connection to appear around the bend and win, lose or draw, the spectactor’s applaud loudly.
The World Championship Gumi Race is a great way to spend a few hours at the Murrumbidgee River in Wagga Wagga, either as a spectator or contestant. Let’s hope it won’t be cancelled next year