The Canberronian region of Australia has a great wealth of amazing local cultures and communities. One such cultural event of note is a local activity involving “dragon boating”. This is where the local villagers compete against each other racing large, unwieldly but colourful boats in an apparent test of strength to determine who is best at boating.
They crew these boats with their strongest warriors who do their best by paddling with different coloured, flat bottomed paddles. Why they do this is uncertain, though current theories involve preparing for tribal feuds and raids, rites of passage or perhaps some sort of religious ceremony to their lake gods.
During my studies I have managed to befriend and imbed myself into one of these local tribes, who refer to themselves as “Komodo”. Komodo is a particularly strong and loud tribe lead by a chieftain, who they refer to as the “Chi-ki”. The Chi-ki appears to run and co-ordinate her tribe but does not usually control boats herself – often delegating to other, minor chiefs.
These chiefs seem to be called “Sweeps” who are possibly the loudest and most assertive members of the Komodo tribe. Indeed, in an apparent show of dominance, one Sweep appeared to enter another tribe’s lane on a few occasions! Mostly however, they seem to yell their loud war cries of “Reech!” and “Tåp händ pressä!” which appears to dramatically effect the paddlers they command with almost supernatural energy.
These aren’t the only interesting things about these amazing boats of tribes people however – each boat has a drummer that beats a big flax drum to encourage their crew. One such drummer is one the Komodo
calls “Baa-nzi” who was recently given the privilege of drumming by the Chi-ki. He appeared very excited about this honour, making an amazing racket on his drum in the hopes of the Chi-ki giving him more opportunities beating the drum. Time will tell if that is the case, but it appears unlikely.
What appeared to be most incredible about this wonderful Komod-ho tribe however was the truly mesmerising abilities of its crews. The women of the tribe in particular appeared to be immensely strong and skilful with their dragon boating, often commanding great leads over their rival tribes. Both men and women however seem to have quite an amazing technique, moving their paddles up and down in almost pin-point unison, which is a joy to watch.
Dragon boating tends to have its hazards however – a large herd of triathledons were rampaging along the bank in between the gathering tribes and their boats. Luckily, they didn’t appear to bother the tribespeople who were able to swiftly dodge the triathledons to get to their colourful boats.
One interesting event of note however was when one of the triathledon herders a short distance away started shouting “Wo-tää!!” very loudly at his herd. The Komod-ho took great amusement at this and quickly mimicked this “Wo-tää” word for the rest of the day.
The day finished with quite an amazing ending with the Komodo men-and-women crews managing to all get into the final race of the day. One of these crews appeared to gain an unstoppable energy in the last 200m of their race, rapidly overtaking the other teams to score victory for Komodo. Their Chi-ki appeared to be very proud of this, speaking high praise of her tribe and granting them the privilege of raiding other tribes in the coming months.