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A Centenary of Rowing Regattas— Murray Rowing Association

2. Early Years on the Lake

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At the first Regatta on Lake Moodemere, on January, lst, 1863, interest was provided by two accidents, one to a horse, and another to a mare - no, a mayor. The wit is not ours, explained the editors of the "Ovens and Murray Advertiser", on Saturday, January 3rd, 1863, "we would scorn to rob the Rutherglen and Wahgunyah inhabitants of so exceedingly clever a pun. The horse belonged to - we don't know whom, but the poor brute was tranfixed by the shaft of a spring cart, which entered at the flank and passed out at the back of the thigh. The Mayor, who belonged to Rutherglen, was near depositing his civic honours at the bottom of Lake Moodemere". The Mayor would have been the first Mayor of the Borough of Rutherglen (created in 1862), Mr. A. McCleary, who was also Treasurer of the Regatta Committee.

With the tremendous influx of people to the "Rush" following the discovery of gold in Rutherglen, the Regatta had established itself as the Event of the year, attracting many thousands of spectators who would lay wagers on the events during the social gatherings.

New Year's morning 1864 broke fair and sunny and the roads from Chiltern to Rutherglen presented a more lively appearance than in the first days of the "Rush". However, when spectators arrived at the Regatta ground they were dismayed to find that, during the previous evening, a violent gale had blown over the boat house. The Rutherglen owned boats "Bunyip" and "Lady of the Lake" were severely damaged and were unable to start in the races of the day. The interest in the Regatta immediately, ceased, except for those who had made bets.

It was suggested, presumably by the owners of the "Mystery" (Wahgunyah), that their boat should be awarded a "walk-over" so that they would receive the stakes. A meeting of the Regatta Committee at 10 o'clock decided that the Regatta should be postponed. This, the owners of the "Mystery" would not accept so they decided to enter their boat for all the available races. When they applied to the Secretary to make their entries, he declined rather abruptly and immediately left the ground. One of the stewards, however, accepted the entries and the "Mystery" was allowed to row over the course stipulated for every race. Great dissatisfaction was expressed by those present who had interests in the boats which had been destroyed. The decision of the Committee was upheld by the majority and the Regatta was finally held one month later on, February 1st. The "Mystery" still won the Challenge Cup.

The Committee of the ill-fated 1864 Regatta consisted of Stewards, H. B. Wilson, H. Main, A Scott, Fred Foord, Wm. Smith; C. S. Westfield and Geo. E. Cooper; Judge, Mr. Robert Lowes; Honorary Treasurer, Mr. Alex McCleary and Hon. Secretary, Mr. James Daddo. To enter a boat in this Regatta the fee was 10 per cent, of the value of the particular prize for which they were competing.

Wahgunyah Rowing Club

Wahgunyah Rowing Club members

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