Yabby racing in Western Australia

Before living in Australia I had no idea what a yabby was. I think Home and Away characters refer to a place called ‘Yabby Creek’ periodically, but beyond that reference I had never had occasion to give the creatures a second thought. So, when I learned there was a local event devoted to the crustaceans, I was keen to check it out. Towns in regional Australia regularly hold ‘fun days’ to bring the community together, often to raise money for local community groups or charities. That is exactly what Grass Patch’s ‘Yabby Classic’ is all about.

What is a yabby?

Yabbies are freshwater crustaceans found in waterways around Australia. They come in various sizes and shapes, depending on the environment they live in. Smaller ones are often used as bait when fishing, but the Yabby Classic really focuses on the larger blue yabbies found locally. They look like mini lobsters or very large prawns with claws. They are not the most personable of creatures but looked like they might make good eating.

Yabby activities

Yabby races provided gamblers with a betting opportunity every half hour. After being released from an upturned bucket, the first yabby to reach, and fall off, the edge of the plateau was the winner. Each had a different coloured balloon attached for ease of identification. As the crowd watched from the stands some yabbies boldly strode to the edge, while others froze bewildered in the centre.

Yabby racing at Grass Patch, Western Australia

A garlicky waft attracted our attention to a food stall where pickled and barbecued yabbies were available to snack on. The barbecued variety were served with lashings of garlic and tasted like big meaty garlicky prawns. The pickled ones must taste even better as they had already sold out.

Garlic barbecued yabbies, Western Australia

There was also a yabby-shelling competition and the opportunity to pose for yabby photos (see ours above) and for young children to dress up in a yabby costume. Children were otherwise kept busy with activities like bouncy castles, zorb balls and slides. Beyond yabbies, there was a cheesecake competition, market stalls selling local crafts and produce, a bar, live band, and the opportunity to camp and stay for breakfast.

The ‘Yabby Classic’ is an event held on alternate years in mid March, in a farming community called Grass Patch, about 80 kilometres north of Esperance in southern Western Australia. The classic is an entertaining celebration of all things ‘Yabby’, unless perhaps you are a yabby!

Have you ever been to an event celebrating a creature you had never heard of before? Did you enjoy it?

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