Category Archives: Birdman
Moomba Festival is best known for extortionately priced fairground rides and carney rip-off games, the biggest water skiing meeting on the planet (which has nothing to do with the rides, games, fireworks, live bands, BMX and skating contest, or other kids activities….) and of course the Birdman Rally. Over a million people pass through the inner city river areas over the space of three days.
The Birdman pits men against gravity in home made flying machines – or more appropriately, just simply costumes representing some form of air activity- capes & feathers included. One participant even dressed up as a blowfly, and when asked why, the true-blue Australian remarked “Because it is the Aussiest flying animal about!” – when you read this aloud in your mind, remember to stress the rising inflection, and do it in a high pitched squeak! Trust me, there is nothing more Aussie……
They launch themselves into the not-so-inviting waters of the Yarra River off a 5 metre high platform. No-one dares mentions the possible hazardous levels of murk, shopping trollies and/or pollutants in the Yarra River below. The Birdman was halted for a number of years as there were dangerous levels of E-coli found in the river. Of course the competitors don’t do this for their own simple enjoyment and thrills. Every participant does it for their own chosen charity and they all have to raise a minimum amount of money ($ 500) in order to take part.
There were only 2 “serious” competitors in the end. 7 times winner Michael Paul ended up flying 13 metres as unfortunately there was a tailwind which contributed to a major lack of lift or glide. This was still the longest flight of the day though and well short of his 25 metre record from 2011. However it wasn’t quite enough to take out the top prize. The complicated handicap system saw a 6 metre jump magically transform into 116 total metres, due to the $ 16,000+ raised by Daniel “The Eagle has Landed” Mazzei for the Bravehearts charity. Well over $ 40,000 was raised by the competitors for a range of local charities, which is truly a fabulous effort.
The Birdman remains one of the major drawcards of the Moomba Festival. Over 50,000 flocked to the river banks to watch the competition, that is more comedic than Qantastic (is that a word? It is now!) It is also becoming a must-do thing for daredevil bucket lists. The added bonus is that if you manage to raise a mountain load of cash for your charity AND pluck up the courage to actually complete the jump, your name might just go into the annals of history for evermore. Is that a future challenge for 365DaysofSport???
MOOMBA BIRDMAN RALLY
WINNER: Daniel Mazzei, Bravehearts Charity