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australian rowers profiles and history

Elsie E Hawkins

The following is an extract from the Australian National Maritime Museum website.

Elsie Ellen Hawkins nee Hicks emigrated with her husband from England to Australia in 1920. Born in London on October 7 1892, she lived to be 100 years old. Her colourful working life included stints as a hotel publican, boarding house and corner store manageress and brothel keeper. Her large amount of vim and vigour also extended itself to sports and hobbies. Despite never having learned to swim Elsie took up competitive sculling as soon as she arrived in Sydney.

Using her four year old daughter Bonnie as coxswain, Elsie won the New South Wales Women's Heavy Boat Sculling Championship Race in 1925. Her career also included a sculling victory in the 1927 Pittwater Regatta. Her skill and prowess in the strenuous sport of rowing was unusual considering her diminutive size.

Elsie Ellen Hawkins received this brooch as a sculling prize in 1927. It features a one florin coin with the engraved image of the Australian Parliament House and the reverse side depicts a profile portrait of King George IV. Elsie accepted this brooch rather than prize money in a sculling competition so she could retain her amateur status.

Andrew Guerin
April 2021


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