Mick and Robyn Fletcher prepare to step up to the state competition for dragon boat racing.
Mick and Robyn Fletcher prepare to step up to the state competition for dragon boat racing. Jay Cronan

Dragon passion beats the Alice

ALICE Springs was hot and dry and the Northern Rivers is hot and humid with plenty of water sports.

Bushwalking was their favourite outdoor activity in the Alice, but now paddling a dragon boat has become their passion.

Husband and wife Mick and Robyn Fletcher moved to the region for work and were drawn to Lake Ainsworth to paddle with the competitive arm of the Rainbow Region Dragon Boat Club.

"A beautiful sea change," said Robyn.

Mick was more direct.

"Fourteen years in Alice is long enough for anybody," he said.

"It was a matter of choice ... Northern NSW we thought was a great place.

"We came and had a look and fell in love."

Now they have been selected to paddle in a Country NSW team with training camps at Moruya on the Far South Coast, a regatta at Jindabyne and plenty of frequent flyer points to be racked up.

"We saw a come-and-try in January," Robyn explained of the hook that caught their eye for a sport to get involved with.

"We came along, gave it our best shot and just got addicted to it ... they can't get rid of us now."

Mick added that once he got over the muscle soreness it was fun and helps to keep him fit and active.

Last year the pair travelled the length of the east coast competing in regattas.

"Now we have been given the chance to have a crack at the next level," Robyn said.

"State-to-state championships in Penrith in March, then across to Moruya.

"We've got to meet the grade, keep training hard to progress to the Nationals in Melbourne in April."

Mixed in between the South Coast jaunt is a paddle on Lake Jindabyne which can be somewhat cool even in summer.

"Someone said it was altitude training," Mick said.

"I just think it is a torture test for the icy cold water (in Melbourne); it is part of the team bonding.

"It is a good way to bring together a team from all over country NSW."