Carols on the Thomson

Sarah Luke

ONE of Sale’s newest but fastest growing sports clubs, Gippsland Water Dragons, took to the Thomson River on Saturday to celebrate the end of a year with a festive paddle – dress ups and Christmas tunes included.

With 22 in the boat, the Dragons’ carol cruise began at the Port of Sale, their usual route, before setting up for a picnic lunch further along the river.

After officially hitting the water on November 1, the Dragons have expanded to include an impressive 40 members, male and female, and ranging from 16-years-old to 81.

While it’s now the fastest growing water sport in the world, dragon boating began in Australia about 20 years ago, when a Canadian physiotherapist promoted it as the ideal rehabilitation exercise for people recovering from breast cancer.

Ten years ago, the Gippsland Waratahs dragon boat club was formed as a partnership between Sale and Bairnsdale to support local breast cancer survivors.

The Gippsland Water Dragons has its roots in the original Waratah group, but has expanded to include anyone and everyone.

The group now paddles on Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings after 5pm.

Currently homeless, the Dragons have set their sights on acquiring a boat shed, to save their equipment from sitting in a members’ back paddock, and have some fundraising activities planned for next year.

A great way to get fit, meet new people and have fun, the group offers a month’s free membership for those who’d like to give the sport a try – no experience or gear necessary.

Those interested should visit the Gippsland Water Dragons Facebook group, or email