Why You Need To Experience Cane Toad Racing In Magnetic Island
Ever been cane toad racing in Magnetic Island? I didn’t even know cane toad racing was a thing until we went to Magnetic Island recently. Located near Townsville in Queensland, Magnetic Island is a special little place with plenty to see and do. Now, I know Australians love gambling, and I’ve heard of some random betting ideas in pubs across the country, but cane toad racing was a first for me.
We wondered whether it would be worth going to and when the barman at our accommodation, Bungalow Bay Koala Village told us how good it is, we made a beeline there on the local bus.
When we arrived at The Arcadia Hotel, it had just started raining. And as the rain continued throughout the night, nothing was going to stop this legendary night from going ahead. I must admit, cane toad racing at The Arcadia Hotel is one of the best things to do in Magnetic Island. We had a great time!
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The Longest Running Cane Toad Racing In The World
It turns out, cane toad racing has been going ahead every single week for over 40 years on Magnetic Island and is the longest running cane toad racing event in the world. The only times of the year it doesn’t go ahead is during the State Of Origin finals (and obviously more recently during the lockdown).
Started by local legend Verne Jack, the former school teacher managed to raise over $1.2 million dollars for the local surf life club over the years to help support the surfers compete in competitions as well as renovations on the club itself.
When Jayson Wyatt took over the cane toad racing just over 5 years ago with Brad Star, they’ve since kept it going in memory of Verne. Jayson moved to Magnetic in 2012 and has had an interesting background as a photographer for famous band tours visiting Australia. He is now volunteering at the local koala rescue and surf club as well as running this legendary event on the island.
We Visited On The Biggest Ever Night
It turns out, when we visited the cane toad racing at The Arcadia Hotel, it was their biggest night ever. They smashed the record for the highest bid on one of the 8 competing toads at a whopping $400. The winner walked home that night with $900 prize money.
They also sell cane toad racing t-shirts which Steve picked up one because we had such an amazing night there. It turns out they also smashed their record for selling the most shirts that night at around 40 sold. And, it turns out the t-shirts haven’t been redesigned for the last 40 years (making them beautifully retro) which adds to the authenticity of this fund raising event. If you’re looking to buy a t-shirt, you can only purchase them on the race night.
Watch Our Magnetic Island Video Including Cane Toad Racing
How It Works
We wondered how it all worked and how they found the toads. It turns out, 8 toads race each week which are rotated. They are all homed and looked after when they aren’t racing. Even the local IGA gives them food scraps to eat everyday. Local seafood restaurant called SOS Seafood gives away vouchers for the last place toad, which makes it a very much community led event.
So how do you know which toad has won? They all have different coloured hairbands on them so they can tell them apart.
When we visited in the pouring rain, it was a magical night. Brad & Jayson did an amazing job at getting the crowd ready for an exciting race. As Jayson walked around with each toad, kids were allowed to get up close to them before the race began.
And after a while of Brad doing a fantastic job at auctioning off each toad, we all waited patiently for the race to begin. Before we knew it, the toads we off and the first to cross the line won! Although the race was over in seconds, it was an amazing night.
It has been said…
“…If you haven’t been to a cane toad race on the island, you haven’t lived.”
I’m not surprised many tourists plan their holidays around being able to attend the cane toad racing at The Arcadia Hotel, which is held every Wednesday at 8pm .