16 April 2024

Good gourd! Pumpkin paddler tackles the Tumut River in supersized squash

| Chris Roe
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man in squash made into a boat

Pumpkins ahoy! Adam Farquharson takes to the Tumut River in the prize-winning gourd. Photos: John Stanfield.

It’s not every day that a man climbs into a giant pumpkin to take a paddle down the river on an autumn morning, but Tumut’s Adam Farquharson is blazing a trail for the ”sport” Down Under.

“I’ve paddled that river hundreds of times; it was the most fun I’ve ever had!” declared the former commodore of the Tumut Canoe Club.

Hundreds lined the shore as Adam, decked out in a skipper’s hat and Popeye pipe, slipped into the slimy inside of the supersized squash dubbed ”Cinderella” and paddled a mile (1.6 km) downstream from the Tumut Racecourse to the Pioneer Bridge.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen with it,” he said with a chuckle.

“They handle badly, but they float well and, once we launched it, I didn’t have any worries about it tipping over, that’s for sure!”

A crowd watching a man ride his giant pumpkin down a river

Hundreds gather to watch Adam ride his giant pumpkin down the river.

The unusual adventure follows fellow Tumutian Mark Peacock’s recent success at the Royal Easter Show where his supersized squash took out first prize for the biggest pumpkin, weighing in at a whopping 412 kilograms.

Pumpkin paddling is a popular pastime in parts of the United States and Adam said he’d been wanting to have a crack for years.

“Back about 15 years ago, some mates and I bought some giant pumpkin seeds and had a competition to try and grow our own,” he said.

“I had planned to paddle mine, but it got to about the size of a grapefruit and died on the vine so I never realised the dream.

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“When I saw what Mark was doing with his giant pumpkin, I asked him – What are you gonna do with that thing when you finish? Can I paddle it down the river? – and he thought that was a great idea!”

After the Royal Easter Show, the blue-ribbon winning gourd was divested of its valuable seeds and delivered to Adam on Saturday morning.

“My preparation involved paddling the river in a kayak to check out my route and textering ‘Cinderella’ on the side and then we hooked off!” Adam explained.

“What I hadn’t expected was how extremely buoyant it would be. It was 350kg as it was when I was in it, but we found that the more we chopped off the top, the more it popped out of the water.”

Good gourd! Adam Farquharson tackles the Tumut River in a pumpkin. Photo: John Stanfield.

While staying afloat was not an issue, Adam said it was a “gross experience” sitting inside.

“It was awesome but very slimy,” he laughed.

“Next time you get a spaghetti squash or something like that, just run your hand along the inside of the skin and it feels something like that, but it’s on your knees and your legs.

“It’s a little bit difficult to get a purchase but I’ve worked out a technique where you sort of lean into one side of it and paddle on that side to make it the front of the boat.”

And why did he do it?

“Why not? Just a bit of fun and puts a smile on a few faces,” he said.

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