Maitland's Great Raft Race could be resurrected if Cr Bob Geoghegan has his way

It was the race that didn't stop a nation but it certainly stopped a city.

The Great Maitland Raft Race on the Hunter River was a huge crowd pleaser during the 1970s and early 80s and is likely to make a comeback next year if Maitland councillor Bob Geoghegan has his way.

CROWD PLEASER: Crowds lined the banks of the Hunter River to watch the action at one of the raft races in the 1970s. Picture: Sid Bown.

CROWD PLEASER: Crowds lined the banks of the Hunter River to watch the action at one of the raft races in the 1970s. Picture: Sid Bown.

Cr Geoghegan called on the support of his local government colleagues at Tuesday night's council meeting, asking for them to back his plan to resurrect the event.

FLOAT ON: 1975 Raft Race. Picture: Property of Peter Smith and taken by the late Alan Bennett.

FLOAT ON: 1975 Raft Race. Picture: Property of Peter Smith and taken by the late Alan Bennett.

Local Apex clubs are believed to have started the iconic Maitland gathering which was guaranteed to draw hundreds to the city centre to witness the weird and wacky flotilla of colourful rafts and other strange looking vessels. Spectators would line the riverbanks of Maitland and Lorn and scurry for poll position on the Belmore Bridge where the race started.

Cr Geoghegan has canvassed Rotary clubs to gauge interest and has garnered some great support. "We would need a few Rotary clubs on board, it's too big a job for just one club to handle," he said.

The event would be a charity fundraiser and Cr Geoghegan hopes to have the next race in March or April next year.

Cr Geoghegan, who is running for mayor, recalls taking part in the city's last raft race on board a raft made from Swiss exercise balls. "I think that was about 10 years ago," he said. "I remember saying we need to have another raft race in another couple of years but time just got away and it never eventuated," he said.

"They were fun events. You'd be flour bombed and splashed. It was all about fun, frivolity and raising money for a good cause. It will tie in well with council's plans to reactivate the riverbank."