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History of Rowing Queensland

History of Rowing in Queensland

Chapter 2  1901-1945 Federation to WWII

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Chapter 2 Part 1 - 1901-1910

With the creation of The Commonwealth of Australia on January 1, 1901, the colonies became States of the Commonwealth, and therefore the Intercolonial Races became the Interstate Championships. 

The first recorded interstate women's rowing competition was a women's sculling race which took place at the Great Federation Regatta staged on Albert Park Lake in Melbourne on May 30, 1901. 

Cassie Woolly McRitchie of Melbourne won the event from her Sydney challenger, Elizabeth Messenger, and was presented with a magnificent pearl and ruby bracelet by the Duke of Gloucester. The female scullers created such public interest that police were required to keep the inquisitive spectators at bay. To add to the occasion the Victorian sculler used a skiff loaned to her by the Governor of Victoria, Lord Brassey. A photo which was published in the 1985 King's Cup and National Regatta programme indicated that gladstone skiffs were used and anything narrower would have been very awkward with the full length skirt Miss McRitchie was wearing. 

Cassie Woolly McRitchie founded Australia's first all-women's rowing club at Albert Park Lake in 1907 and was known as the "mother" of Victorian women's rowing. She passed away in 1973 aged 96 years. 

The Champion Eight was rowed in Brisbane again on March 16, 1901, over two miles on the Milton Reach. Commercial R.C. led all the way to defeat Brisbane R.C. by 3 lengths. The winning crew was -

T. Bird (B), B. Papi (2), A. Laing (3), R.D. Kennedy (4), T. Cusack (5), J. Thompson (6), A.A. Petrie (7), A.A. Watson (S) and W. Dowridge (Cox).

The Interstate Eight-oar Race over three miles 167 yards was rowed on the Parramatta River on May 4, 1901, and crews from Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland competed. New South Wales took an early lead from Victoria and Queensland, but at the halfway mark Victoria had a slight advantage and Queensland were tiring. Victoria battled on to win by two lengths from New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland last, one minute behind Victoria. 

In the Interstate Sculling Race over three miles 167 yards there were three starters - M.J. Slack and J.A. Lumsden from Queensland and J.J. Daley from New South Wales. Slack and Daley kept well together until halfway, then Daley challenged and Slack had no answer. Daley, who was two stone lighter than Slack, won by 35 seconds with a further 8 seconds to Lumsden. 

The Champion Four was raced in Maryborough on November 11, 1901, and in addition to the Champion Four and Champion Sculls there were races for Maiden Fours, Maiden Sculls, Senior Fours, Club Fours, Junior Fours, Naval Brigade Whaleboat Race, Under 20 Fours and Junior Sculls. 

In the Champion Single Sculls M.J. Slack pulled over the course with Sullivan of Maryborough and won on a row-over. 

In the Champion Four, three crews faced the starter. Maryborough R.C. had the sheltered position at the start and led until the bend into the town reach, where the Brisbane District crew took the lead and won by a couple of lengths to Rockhampton R.C. with Maryborough R.C. third. The winning crew was -

V. Markwell (B-BrisRC), T.J. Lyons (2-CRC), R. Cran (3-BrisRC), A.A. Petrie (S-CRC), C.H. Hall (Cox) and A.H.G. Drury (Coach).

The Champion Eight was rowed in Brisbane on March 15, 1902, over 3 miles on a course over the Humbug and Bulimba Reaches finishing at Breakfast Creek. There were three Commercial R.C. crews and one from Brisbane R.C.. The No. I Commercial eight stroked by Watson went to an early lead in the Humbug Reach and taking the smooth going in Bulimba Reach were never headed. Commercial (Watson) won by a length to Commercial (Kennedy), six lengths to Brisbane R.C. and three lengths to Commercial (Brown). The winning crew was - T. Bird (B), J.H. Williams (2), R. Scott (3), S.A. Spragg (4), H. Montefiore (5), T.J. Lyons (6), A.A. Petrie (7), A.A. Watson (S) and W. Dowridge (Cox). 

The Interstate Races were held on May 10, 1902, on Port Adelaide. In the Sculling Race, J.J. Daley of New South Wales outclassed J.J. Fahey of South Australia, winning without extending himself. 

In the Interstate Eight-oar Race over 3 miles 726 yards, five crews competed. Victoria led out from Queensland and New South Wales. At 1/2 mile to go Victoria led from South Australia with Queensland holding on grimly. Victoria won by 3/4 length to South Australia, 3/4 length to Queensland, 1/2 length to Western Australia and New South Wales 300 yards behind in last place. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held in Rockhampton on October 13. 1902. The Champion Sculls was won by W.M. Callaghan of Rockhampton R.C. from J. Lumsden of Brisbane R.C. who stopped rowing after 2 miles. 

In the Champion Four on the Saturday, the Commercial crew did not come up to the start when called and Rockhampton R.C. won from Wide Bay R.C. and Maryborough R.C.. Following a protest by Commercial who claimed they could not hear the starter, the race was re-rowed on Monday and Commercial won from Wide Bay R.C.. Rockhampton and Maryborough declined to compete on the grounds that Rockhampton had won fairly on the Saturday. The crew awarded the race for Commercial was - A. Laing (B), J.H. Williams (2), W.V. Morley (3), A.A. Watson (S) and W. Dowridge (Cox). 

The boat race officials at this time were:- W. Schmidt (Starter), R.H. Roe (Umpire) and M. Largey (Judge). 

The All Schools' Four-oar race was rowed on the Bridge Reach over 3/4 mile finishing at Commercial R.C., on Friday, December 5, 1902. Maryborough Grammar School won by one length to Brisbane Grammar School.

The winning crew was:- H.L. Baynes (B) E. Hanley (2) G.W. Watson (3) J. Hunter (S) and H.L. Harvey (Cox).

The Champion Eight was held in Brisbane on March 4, 1903, over 3 miles on the Hamilton Reach, with three crews competing. Commercial No.2 crew (Williams) defeated Commercial No. I crew (Watson) with Brisbane R.C. (Kennedy) in third place. The winners were seated - W. Mellish (B), E.M. Graham (2), B. Papi (3), W.P. Watts (4), R.C. Campbell (5), T.P. Volkman (6), A.H. Hawkes (7), J.H. Williams (S) and G.W. Wray (Cox).

The Interstate regatta was held on the Lower Yarra on May 2, 1903. In the Interstate Sculls over 2 1/4 miles, the Tasmanian sculler, T.H. Bourke, moved through the field about halfway and won with ease from P.C. Ivens of Victoria, J.J. Daley of New South Wales and H. Brasch of Victoria.

In the Interstate Eight-oar Race over two and a half miles, five crews were entered. Victoria led out from Queensland and New South Wales. At the halfway mark South Australia passed New South Wales. Victoria won by 4 lengths from Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. The spectators gave Queensland a rousing cheer for a good effort. 


The Champion Fours regatta returned to Brisbane on October 10, 1903. In the Champion Four over 3 miles Commercial R.C. won by 2 lengths to Wide Bay R.C. and a further length to Maryborough R.C. with Brisbane R.C. in last place. The winners were - J.H. Williams (B), T.J. Lyons (2), H.A. Montefiore (3), A.A. Watson (S) and C.H. Hall (Cox). 

In the Champion Sculls W.G. Slack of Lakes Creek R.C. took the lead after C.P. Paul of Commercial R.C. and W.M. Callaghan of Rockhampton R.C. clashed early in the race and never gave up the lead. The scullers finished - W.G. Slack first, C.P. Paul second and W.M. Callaghan third. 

The other races on the programme were Maiden Fours, Invitation Fours, Senior Fours and Handicap Sculls. 

The All Schools' Four-oar race was rowed over 3/4 mile in Maryborough on Wednesday, December 9, 1903. Brisbane Grammar School won by two lengths to Maryborough Grammar School. 

The winning crew was: W.S. Mactaggart (B) C.E. Parkinson (2) A.S. Roe (3) K. Smith (S) and E.G. Spence (Cox). 

The Championship Eight race was rowed in Brisbane on February 27, 1904, over 3 miles on the Hamilton Reach with only the two old rivals competing. Brisbane R.C. led out but Commercial R.C. took the lead after half a mile and were never troubled to win by eight lengths. 

The winning crew was - J.H. Williams (B), F.W. Hicklin (2), A.H. Hawkes (3), W.P. Watts ( 4), A. Montefiore (5), E. Brown (6), W.V. Morley (7), A.A. Watson (S) and G.H. Hall (Cox).

The Interstate Regatta was held in Brisbane on the Hamilton Reach on May 7, 1904. The report in "The Queenslander" newspaper lists the people aboard the umpire's launch (steamer) "in addition to Messrs. R.H. Roe (umpire) W. Schmidt (starter) C.H. Briggs (official timekeeper) were His Honour Sir S.W. Griffith (Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia), the Minister for Lands (Hon. J.T. Bell), the Hons. 

E.J. Stevens and A.J. Callan, M.M.L.C., E.B. Forrest and Messrs. J. Cameron, D.J.R. Watson, M.M.L.A., the Mayor of Brisbane (Alderman T. Rees), Messrs. W. Blain (coach of South Australian crew), Q.L. Deloitte (President NSW Rowing Association), Dr. Burn (Vice-president of the NSW Rowing Association, Chairman of the Sydney Anniversary Regatta Committee, and President of the NSW Anglers' Association), E.A. Pearson (coach New South Wales crew), E.G. Bird (West Australia), R.A. Anderson (South Australia), C.E. Kellett, E.H. Williams, P. Burke (visitors from Victoria), B. Papi (Western Australian coach), the Queensland selectors (Messrs. Burton and Fairbairn), D. O'Connor and J. Devoy". A most important social event.

In the Sculling Race over three miles, Bourke of Tasmania took the lead from Slack of Queensland and Ivens of Victoria. These positions were maintained throughout with T.H. Bourke (Tasmania) finishing comfortably eight lengths in front of M.J. Slack (Queensland) and three and a half lengths to P.C. Ivens (Victoria).

In the Interstate Eights over three miles, five crews started, only Tasmania not being represented. Victoria led out from Queensland and New South Wales. After 1/2 mile the Western Australian six man broke his stretcher and the crew retired. At the 1 l /2 miles Queensland and South Australia on even terms led Victoria by a canvas. Victoria then sprinted and took the lead which they held to the finish, beating South Australia by 1 1/2 lengths with 2 lengths to Queensland and a further 4 lengths to New South Wales. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held in Maryborough on October 8, 1904, and conditions were rather rough on the day. I. Sullivan of Wide Bay RC. rowed over the course to claim the Champion Single Sculls title. 

In the Fours title there were four entries - Rockhampton RC., Maryborough R.C., Wide Bay RC., and Commercial RC.. At the start Commercial had the best position with Rockhampton next and the two local crews in the rough water. Commercial and Rockhampton were best away, and shortly after the 100 yard mark the Wide Bay crew struck the bank and holed their boat and had to retire. Maryborough went to the lead after half a mile, but Rockhampton took the lead after one mile. Commercial drew level after two miles but then dropped back. Rockhampton won by three quarters of a length to Maryborough with a further three lengths to Commercial. The Rockhampton RC. crew was seated - R.J. Thomasson (B), W. Glore (2), R. Macoun (3), L.C. Callaghan (S) and A. Robertson (Cox).

The All Schools' Four-oar race was rowed over 3/4 mile on the Bridge Reach on Tuesday, December 6, 1904. Brisbane Grammar School won by a canvas to Maryborough Grammar School, after Maryborough had led for most of the distance until one of the crew lost his slide. 

The winning crew was:- F.A.J.W. Taylor (B) A. G. Corrie (2) N.R. Murray (3) C.E. Parkinson (S) and C. Clark (Cox).

The Champion Eights race was again held in Brisbane over the three miles on the Hamilton Reach on February 18, 1905. Wide Bay RC. sent an eight down for the first time. On the first start Wide Bay R.C. and Brisbane R.C. clashed and the race was stopped. On the re-start Commercial had a two length lead when Wide Bay and Brisbane again clashed. The umpire allowed the race to proceed and although Wide Bay made a great effort Commercial won by two lengths to Brisbane R.C. with Wide Bay third. The Commercial crew was - T.J. Brundritt (B), C.C. Farren (2), J.M. Grant (3), A. Reid (4), N.A. Ferguson (5), W.P. Watts (6), H.A. Montefiore (7), J.H. Williams (S) and Win Fowles (Cox). 

A challenge eights race was also conducted and a test sculls race was held to decide the interstate sculling representative. Whatever the result of the race, no Queensland representative sculler went to Sydney in May. 

The Interstate Rowing Championships were held on the Parramatta River on May 13, 1905. In the Sculling Championships over three miles there were four entries - Bourke and Evans from Tasmania, Ivens from Victoria and Edwards from Western Australia. T.H. Bourke (Tasmania) won from R. Evans (Tasmania) and P.C. Ivens (Victoria). On an interesting note, the scullers rowed down the course from Abbotsford to Ryde and the eights then competed in the opposite direction.

In the Interstate Eight over three miles 167 yards, Victoria and Tasmania led out and had a length lead after 1/4 mile. By the 1/2 mile Queensland was last with several members of the crew already showing signs of distress. Victoria took the lead with Tasmania fighting all the way, and won by a length to Tasmania with New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland tailed off a long way back. 

In a newspaper article going over the course of the Interstate Eights up to 1905, it gave the lightest crew that ever competed in the race as the New South Wales crew of 1882, average weight being 10st. 6 1/2 lbs. (66.45 kg), and they won the race from Victoria who averaged 11st. 11 3/4 lbs.(75.18 kg). The lightest man to compete, J. Thomson, who stroked the winning New South Wales crew in 1882, was 9st. 21b. (58 kg). A. Charney of Victoria had competed in ten races, winning each time. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held in Brisbane on October 14, 1905, with the fours being rowed over 3 miles from the top of Milton Reach to the Dry Dock. In the Champion Sculls, M.J. Slack of Brisbane R.C. put in a few hard strokes at the start, then paddled as he liked. J. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C. tried hard and W.M. Callaghan of Rockhampton R.C. was outclassed.

In the Champion Four, Wide Bay R.C. had a length lead opposite the Regatta Hotel and three lengths at the gasworks. The crews then proceeded in single file along the south bank in heavy going. Wide Bay pulled away in the Town Reach to win by eight lengths from Commercial R.C. with a further three lengths to Rockhampton R.C.. The winning crew was seated - J. Sullivan (B), J. Anderson (2), G. Anderson (3), T. Anderson (S) and J. Copp (Cox). Other races were a Maiden Eight, Junior Fours, Under 20 Fours and two other sculling events.

The Commercial R.C. boat-house erected in 1897 served until 1905, when increasing membership decided the club to build a new boat-house on the same site. At the time of its erection this boat-house was the largest in Australia, and in its upper story represented a great advance in boat-house construction. The President of the club, Mr. Denis O'Connor, who joined the club in 1879 and won many championship races, guaranteed the overdraft at the bank. For this and many other services the shed was named "The O'Connor Boathouse". It was a grand gathering place for spectators of regattas on the Town Reach and the dance floor area was used on Saturday mornings to conduct dance classes for the young ladies and gentlemen from the city's Grammar Schools. It was officially opened on October 21, 1905, and a regatta was held in which the Brisbane R.C. was invited to join, twenty four mixed crews of the two clubs taking part. Brisbane R.C. had housed the Commercial club during the building of the new shed. 

The All Schools' Four-oar race was rowed over 3/4 mile at Maryborough on Wednesday, December 6, 1905. Maryborough Grammar School won by half a length to Brisbane Grammar School. 

The winning crew was:- R. Baynes (B) N. Mellor (2) N. Gibson (3) R. Hughes (S) and B. Pryce (Cox). 

A regatta organised by the Q.R.A. was held on the Bulimba Reach on December 16, 1905, in rather boisterous conditions. The races were rowed downstream to finish near Breakfast Creek. The first race was an Invitation Eight over one mile and had two crews both of which had a combination of Commercial and Brisbane members. 

The other race was a Senior Eights race over two miles and again with two crews, Commercial R.C. and Brisbane R.C.. Commercial handled the rough conditions better and had a length and one quarter lead at the mile and finished the course five lengths clear of Brisbane. 

The Champion Eights regatta was held in Brisbane on February 17, 1906, on the Hamilton Reach. Among other guests on the umpire's launch were Hon.  J.T .Bell (President Q.R.A.) and F.A. Hughes (Honorary Secretary). On an incoming tide and following breeze there was possibly 300 yards of the course gone before the "Go". Commercial had a half length after half a mile and won comfortably by five lengths to Brisbane R.C.. 

The Commercial RC. crew was - J.M. Grant (B), W.V. Morley (2), A. Reid (3), W.P. Watts (4), G.W. Watson (5), H.A. Montefiore (6), A.H. Hawkes (7), J.H. Williams (S) and G.W. McKenzie (Cox). 

In addition to the Championship regattas, the Q.R.A. conducted status regattas on November 18, 1905, and March 31, 1906, in Brisbane and April 18, 1906, in Bundaberg. 

The Interstate Championships were held in Perth on the Swan River on May 5, 1906, and in accord with the agreement between the States, Queensland was not represented in the Eights or the Sculls. 

In the Interstate Champion Single Sculls there were only three starters - P.C. Ivens of Victoria, W. Robinson of Tasmania and H.J. Stephenson of Western Australia. P.J. Walsh, also of Western Australia, decided at the last minute not to start. Ivens went to an early lead and won by 25 lengths to Robinson with about the same distance to Stephenson. 

In the Interstate Eight-oared Championship Race over three miles Victoria and Tasmania were in the lead half a mile from the start, but then Victoria started to drop out. At the half way Victoria were two lengths behind Tasmania, who went on to win by two lengths to Victoria, three lengths to New South Wales, three lengths to Western Australia and a further two lengths to South Australia. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held in Maryborough on October 13, 1906. In the Champion Single Sculls, W.M. Callaghan of Rockhampton R.C. won from A. Sullivan of Maryborough RC.. 

The Championship Four was rowed on smooth water with a head wind and five crews were entered - Wide Bay R.C., Commercial R.C., Brisbane R.C., Rockhampton R.C. and Bundaberg R.C.. This was Bundaberg's first appearance in the Champion Fours, the club having only been re-established in late 1905. 

Wide Bay and Bundaberg led out and Bundaberg had a slight lead after one mile with Wide Bay staying right with them until the two miles mark. Bundaberg gradually increased the lead in the third mile to win by five lengths to Wide Bay, then Commercial, Rockhampton and Brisbane in that order. The Bundaberg crew, which caused one of the greatest surprises in the history of the Maryborough regattas, not being at all fancied, was seated - W. Moller (B), S.G. Annable (2), J. McCracken (3), W. Wells (S) and H. Ryan (Cox). 

The All Schools' Four-oar race was rowed over 3/4 mile on Milton Reach, downstream to the Knoll, on Wednesday, December 17, 1906. Brisbane Grammar School won from Maryborough Grammar School. The winning crew was:- J.M. Brown (B) W.E. Kieman (2) L.G. Brown (3) H.K. Denham (S) and F. C. Skinner (Cox).

The Champion Eight was conducted on Hamilton Reach in Brisbane on February 23, 1907, and excited great interest with three crews being entered - Wide Bay R.C., Commercial R.C. and Brisbane R.C.. 

D.E. Joyce, who competed in the first Champion Eight in 1900 for Brisbane R.C. as stroke was rowing in No. 7 seat in the Brisbane R.C. crew. Two trophies were affected by this contest. The Finney Memorial Shield competed for the first time in 1906 would go to the club which wins the greatest number of championships in twenty years. The "Courier Cup", presented by the Hon. E.J. Stevens, M.L.C., was to be held by the club which scored the most points in the Maiden, Junior, Senior and Champion Eights. In this season Commercial had won the Maiden and Junior Eights and Brisbane had won the Senior Eight.

The "Midge" in charge of Torpedo Instructor Miles was used as the umpire's boat. On board were the Hon. J.T. Bell, M.L.A. (President of the Q.R.A.), Right Rev. Dr. G.S. Donaldson (Archbishop of Brisbane), Messrs. James Clark, H. Brookes, F.S.N. Bousfield and J.N. Devoy (Vice-presidents), J.W. Hall (Vice­-president Wide Bay Club), E. Baynes, B. Papi, E. Fitzpatrick (delegates Commercial Club), J. Murray (delegate Wide Bay Club), A. Burton (subscriber's delegate) and F.A. Hughes (Honorary Secretary of Q.R.A.). The officials on board were:- Starter, Mr. D. Mactaggart; Umpire, Mr. R.H. Roe; Judge, Mr. M. Largey; Timekeeper, Mr. C.H. Briggs. One presumes that the judge was dropped off at the finishing line on the way down the river. 

Wide Bay had a length lead after half a mile from Commercial and Brisbane dropping off. After two and a quarter miles Brisbane was passed by the umpire's boat and a spectator steamer. Wide Bay won by three lengths to Commercial and Brisbane tailed off hopelessly. 

Archbishop Donaldson, who was an old 'Varsity rowing man, when asked for his impressions, said Wide Bay had won by sheer stamina and pluck, their style not being good. The crew had only arrived that morning by steamer and some of the crew had taken no meals on board, and it was described as a "thunderingly good performance". Three of the crew were blacksmiths, two worked in a timber yard and another was a stovemaker. 

The winning crew was - J. Sullivan (B), J. Anderson (2), J. Corday (3), M. Sullivan (4), F. Sears (5), AW. Bayley (6), G. Anderson (7), T. Anderson (S) and A.T. Thorbum (Cox). 

Also on February 23, 1907, the Ladies' Sculling Championship of Australia was conducted on the Parramatta River over a two mile course. Several fouls occurred during the race. Miss G. Lewis of North Sydney won by fifteen lengths to Mrs. E. Woodbridge of Stockton, Newcastle. A protest by Mrs. Woodbridge was not entertained. There was no indication in the newspaper report as to whether the race was an amateur or a professional event. 

The Wide Bay crew represented Queensland in the Interstate Eight-oar Championship over three miles 726 yards, held in Port Adelaide on May 4, 1907. Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania led out and for the first half mile it was a good race between these three. At the mile Victoria had a length on Tasmania and a further half a length to New South Wales. At the mile and a half Queensland passed New South Wales and were half a length behind Tasmania. Victoria won by three and a half lengths to Tasmania, two and a half lengths to Queensland, then New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. 

Queensland was not represented in the Sculling Race which was won by P.C. Ivens of Victoria from R. Green of New South Wales, E. Jack of Tasmania and J. Hill of Western Australia.

The Commercial R. C. Annual Report for 1906/7 advised members that The new club singlets had arrived from England - cost 3 shillings per singlet - somewhat more than at first contemplated, but taking into consideration the quality of the article, the price must be looked upon as most reasonable.


The Champion Fours regatta was conducted in Rockhampton on October 12, 1907. In the Champion Sculls there were two contestants - W.M. Callaghan of Rockhampton R.C. and W. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C.. Shortly after the start Sullivan encroached on Callaghan's water and was warned by the umpire. The same clashing occurred once more, then Sullivan's blade punched a hole in the side of Callaghan's boat and split more than half the boat. Callaghan could not continue and Sullivan rowed over the course. The umpire declared the event a no-race, but a meeting of the Q.R.A. held on the Sunday night decided to disqualify Sullivan and award the title to Callaghan. 

In the Champion Fours race four crews were entered - Brisbane R.C., Maryborough R.C., Bundaberg R.C. and Rockhampton R.C.. Bundaberg shot away followed by Rockhampton. After two miles Bundaberg had a lead of three quarters of a length on Rockhampton. Bundaberg won by three and a half lengths to Rockhampton, with a length and a half to Brisbane and Maryborough last. The winning Bundaberg four was - W. Moller (B), S.G. Annable (2), J. McCracken (3), W. Wells (S) and H. Ryan (Cox). 

Other races conducted were Trial Tubs over 1/2 mile, Challenge Fours over 1 mile for rowers who had not won a junior race, Invitation Fours for junior oarsmen over 1 mile, Under 20 Fours over 3/4 mile, Handicap Sculls over 1 1/2 miles and Senior Fours over 1 1/2 miles. Fitzroy R.C. won the first three fours races and Rockhampton R.C. the Senior Fours. 

The All Schools' Four-oar race was rowed over 3/4 mile at Maryborough on Tuesday, December 10, 1907. Brisbane Grammar School won by two and a half lengths to Maryborough Grammar School. 

The winning crew was:- C.M. Lilley (B) G.S. Wilson (2) L.G. Brown (3) H.K. Denham (S) and G.E. Riechelmann (Cox). 

The Champion Eight was again held on the Hamilton Reach in Brisbane on December 14, 1907, between Commercial R.C. and Brisbane R.C.. There was a strong wind and rather bumpy water. The crews got away well and stayed together for some time, but then Commercial drew away and won by six lengths. The winning crew was seated - W. Mellish (B), G. Still (2), E. Petrie (3), W.P. Watts (4), A. Dennis (5), J. Ferguson (6), J.G. Petrie (7), J.H. Williams (S), Win Fowles (Cox) and coached by A.A. Watson.

"The Brisbane Courier" newspaper report then went on to give an account of J.H. Williams long rowing career. He won his Maiden and Junior Fours in 1888. He rowed bow in the Commercial crew which won the Champion Fours in 1889, No. 2 seat in 1892 (January and December) 1893 and 1894. He was then omitted from champion crews for several years because of a youth policy in the club, then after stroking a winning Senior Four in 1902, he rowed in winning Champion Fours in 1902 (2) and 1903 (B). He was in six winning Champion Eights from 1902 (2), 1903 (S), 1904 (B), 1905 (S), 1906 (S) and 1907 (S). In 1903 he was given the stroke seat in the Interstate Champion Eight-oar crew for the first time, the crew coming second to Victoria. He was also a member of the four which rowed from Brisbane to Ipswich, a distance of forty eight miles, in four hours and fifty two minutes. 

On February 29, 1908, the Brisbane Ladies' Rowing Club conducted their first regatta on the Shafston Reach, with a large marquee for the spectators on the New Farm side. The regatta was run with the assistance of the Commercial and Brisbane Rowing clubs and was a great success. The officials of the club were:-

Patroness – Lady Chelmsford (wife of the Governor) 

President – Mrs. Murray Thompson

Honorary Secretary - Miss Isabella Roberts

Honorary Treasurer - Miss M. Walker 

Captain - Miss Abercrombie 

Naturally the want of a well equipped boat shed, which it hoped would soon be acquired, was felt to some extent, but the ladies managed very well with such facilities as there were. 

The Brisbane Ladies' Rowing Club shed was opened later in the year at Kangaroo Point close to where the Customs House/Kangaroo Point ferry landing is situated. 

Prior to the formation of the Queensland Rowing Association, the Intercolonial Eight was selected from lists submitted by the Brisbane clubs of rowers who were considered to be of the right quality and who were available to make the trip. Travel was by steamer and the trip was unlikely to take less than two weeks and quite probably three to four weeks depending on connections. 

After the formation of the Q.R.A. in 1889 the same system prevailed even after the Champion Eight of Queensland was first rowed in 1900. It was only after the appearance of Wide Bay in the eights race in 1905 and then in 1907 when Wide Bay won the Championship that other than Brisbane oarsmen were considered. 

After 1907 the district winning the Champion Eight appeared to select the Interstate crew except in those years when the Championship was rowed early - December to February - and then an Inter-District Race was rowed as a test race to decide the Interstate crew. 

The Interstate Championship regatta was rowed on the Yarra River on May 9, 1908. In the Interstate Sculls, H. Brasch of Victoria led out from J. Towns of New South Wales, but at the mile Towns was leading slightly from Brasch, and W.M. Callaghan of Queensland gave up. At the two mile mark E. Jack of Tasmania took the lead from Brasch and Towns stopped rowing. E. Jack crossed three lengths in front of Brasch, but was subsequently disqualified because of non-compliance with the amateur definition. 

In the Interstate Eight-oar race over two and a half miles, South Australia led out from New South Wales. After the first mile New South Wales was a length in front of South Australia. After two miles New South Wales led Victoria by a half length. Victoria sprinted 200 yards from the finish but New South Wales held them off to win by one and a quarter lengths, a further three lengths to Tasmania, then four lengths to South Australia with Western Australia and Queensland a long way in the rear. 


The Champion Fours regatta was held on the Milton and Bridge Reaches in Brisbane on October 10, 1908. The Champion Sculls race was contested by A. Dennis of Commercial R.C., W.M. Callaghan of Rockhampton R.C. and J. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C.. Sullivan led out and at the gasworks had two lengths on Callaghan and Dennis a further length back but travelling very comfortably. Passing the Commercial shed, Dennis sprinted and took the lead and won by a couple of lengths from Sullivan with Callaghan third.

The Champion Four saw six crews entered - Commercial R.C., Wide Bay R.C., Brisbane R.C., Maryborough R.C., Bundaberg R.C. and Fitzroy R.C.. Wide Bay led out and passing the Regatta Hotel were two lengths ahead of Bundaberg, followed by Maryborough. Wide Bay sat on a lead of about two and a half lengths from Bundaberg. The strong wind and rough water below the Victoria Bridge did not stop Wide Bay and they won by ten lengths from Bundaberg and a further three lengths to Commercial, then the Fitzroy, Maryborough and Brisbane R.C. crews. The winning crew was - F. Sullivan (B), J. Hansen (2), F. Hillcoat (3), A. Hansen (S) and C. O'Malley (Cox).

Bundaberg won the Under 20 Four from the Southport High School R.C., Wide Bay won the Senior Four, Brisbane R.C. the Maiden Four, and Wells and Annable of Bundaberg won the Senior Double Sculls. 

The All Schools' Four-oar Championship over 3/4 mile was rowed on the Bridge Reach on Thursday, December 10, 1908. Southport High School won by one length to Brisbane Grammar School, then four lengths to Maryborough Grammar School. 

The winning crew was:- L. Skinner (B) H.M. Palmer (2) M.J.W. Hamilton (3) N.R. Dowling (S) and J.H.S. Jackson (Cox). 

In a report in The Brisbane Courier of December 8, covering the Southport High School's speech night, it was stated that the rowing club under Mr.C.C. Thorold had progressed in leaps and bounds. He expressed the sincere thanks of the school to the head masters of the Brisbane and Maryborough Grammar Schools for their kindness and courtesy in allowing them to put a crew on the river in the inter school race which was to take place that week. He also wished to emphatically record their appreciation of the favours and kindnesses received at the hands of the Brisbane Commercial Rowing Club. 

The Champion Eight was rowed on the Hamilton Reach in Brisbane on March 6, 1909, and Wide Bay R.C., Commercial R.C. and Brisbane R.C. facing the starter. Commercial led out but were soon passed by Wide Bay, but the much heavier Commercial crew continued to make a race of it for the full distance and Wide Bay won by one and a quarter lengths. The No. 2 man in the Brisbane crew broke his thole pin about a mile from the finish and the crew withdrew from the race, being considerably in arrears at that time. The winning crew was - A.W. Bayley (B), M. Sullivan (2), A.E. Hansen (3), M. Gormley (4), F. Sullivan (5), J. Hansen (6), E.G. Hillcoat (7), H.A. Hansen (S) and C. O'Malley (Cox).

On March 20, 1909, the first Henley-on-the-Brisbane was conducted on the Hamilton Reach. A bright flashing sun in a sky of cloudless blue and a gentle breeze made Brisbane and the surroundings very charming on Saturday wrote the Brisbane Courier. A huge crowd swarmed down to the Hamilton Reserve and its vicinity (approximately where Bretts Wharves and Cold Stores stood in later years). The Brisbane Courier estimated at least 20,000 spectators and The Queenslander gave an estimate of 30,000 viewers. On either count a huge crowd for the times. All proceeds were to go to the aid of the Brisbane Hospital. There was a procession of steamers, launches, sailing boats and a rowing regatta. The band of the Queensland Rifles entertained in the reserve. The Q.R.A. members on the executive committee were W.E. Savage and W.M. Mood. 

The Hospital Junior Eight over three quarters of a mile was won by Commercial R.C., the Challenge Henley Eight over one mile was also won by Commercial. Other races were the Commercial Fours, Junior Double Sculls, Under Twenty Fours, Maiden Double Sculls, Stewards Heavyweight Fours, Bulimba Middleweight Fours, Ladies' Double Sculls, Hamilton Fours, Senior Double Sculls, Brisbane Club Fours, Ladies' Pair Oars, Handicap Sculls and Grand Final Handicap Eights. The carnival continued at night with illuminated boats on the water and a concert in the reserve. 

The participating clubs on the organising committee were:- The Queensland Rowing Association, Brisbane Ladies' Rowing Club, Commercial R.C., Brisbane R.C., Southport High School R.C., Royal Queensland Yacht Club, Brisbane Dingey Sailing Club, Queensland Flying Squadron, South Brisbane Sailing Club, Oxley Electorate Sailing Club, Royal Life Saving Society and the representatives of the military and the navy. 

In the John Oxley Library in Brisbane there is a copy of the Rules of the Brisbane Ladies Rowing Club which has no dates but shows the Patroness as Lady MacGregor, no doubt wife of the Governor of Queensland, Sir William MacGregor, M.D., G.C.M.G., C.B., whose tenure as Governor was from December 2, 1909 to June 16, 1914. These rules would, no doubt, have been the first set printed by the club, which held its first regatta on February 29, 1908. 

On May 2, 1909, the Inter-district regatta was held on the Hamilton Reach in Brisbane to decide the selection of representative sculler and district eight for the Interstate regatta on May 15. Conditions were unfavourable with a strong westerly wind and the water was very lumpy. 

The challenge sculls was a race over two and a half miles between H. Ford of Wide Bay R.C. and A. Dennis of Commercial R. C.. Ford weighed 10 st 10 lbs and Dennis 12 st 10 lbs and apart from his sculling expertise, Dennis had a considerable advantage in the conditions. Dennis went to an early lead and the scullers both went immediately to the shelter of the training wall on the north bank. After a mile Dennis had a lead of seven lengths and he then crossed to the southern bank and Dennis extended his lead to win by a considerable distance. 

Two crews entered for the initial race of the District Representative Eight over three miles. They were Bundaberg District and the Brisbane Metropolitan crew. Both crews got away well with Bundaberg taking a length lead at a higher rating. After about three quarters of a mile as they reached the end of the training wall, Bundaberg swamped and ·sank. Brisbane also filled and the crew had to empty their boat. The race was called off and the umpire decided it would be re-rowed on the Monday from Gaileys Corner on Toowong Reach to the Dry Docks. The Bundaberg boat had split both canvasses. 

The re-row started promptly at noon on Monday May 2, in ideal conditions on a flooding tide. The heavier Brisbane crew had established a length lead after half a mile and with both crews progressing down the south bank to avoid the incoming tide, clear water began to appear between the crews. When Brisbane swung wide entering the Bridge Reach, Bundaberg did not take advantage and Brisbane had a four lengths lead which they increased to win comfortably. The Brisbane crew was -

J.H. Williams (B), J. Cunningham (2), E. Dunlop (3), H.M. Walker (4), W.C. Poulsen (5), J.G. Petrie (6), A. Petrie (7), J. Ferguson (S), G. McKenzie (Cox) and S.B. Boland (Coach).

The Interstate Championships were conducted in Brisbane on May 15, 1909, on the Hamilton Reach on a grey rainy day, and the flowery writing of the newspaper scribes attempted to make up for the lack of sunshine. The Interstate Sculls saw four entrants - J.R. Towns of New South Wales, A. Dennis of Queensland, F. Coverdale of Tasmania and A. Richards of Victoria. After half a mile the sculls were well together with the order being Towns, Coverdale, Dennis and Richards. This order remained unchanged to the finish with Towns winning in a paddle. 

In the Interstate Eight-oar Race the only absentee was Western Australia in agreement with the interstate accord which exempted them from the trip to Queensland. Tasmania led out with Victoria getting away badly. After one mile Tasmania led New South Wales with Victoria a couple of lengths further back. By the two miles Victoria had passed New South Wales. However, Tasmania held on to win by one and a half lengths to Victoria with a further length to New South Wales, Queensland fourth and South Australia last. 

In the thirty three races held up to 1909, Victoria had been victorious on all but eight occasions, New South Wales had won five, Tasmania two and Queensland once. 


On October 9, 1909, the first championship regatta to be held in Bundaberg was conducted in the form of the Champion Fours regatta. In the Champion Sculls, W.M. Callaghan of Rockhampton R.C. defeated J.G. Smith of Commercial R.C. by a length with a further length to J. Sullivan of Wide Bay R.C.. 

In the Champion Four five crews started - Maryborough R.C., Bundaberg R.C., Brisbane R.C., Wide Bay R.C. and Fitzroy R.C.. Bundaberg were favourites on their home water but did not justify their position. Wide Bay won by three lengths from Fitzroy who were six lengths in advance of Bundaberg, Maryborough fourth and Brisbane last. The Wide Bay crew was seated - A.W. Bayley (B), J.L. Hansen (2), E.J. Hillcoat (3), H.A. Hansen (S) and H. Simpson (Cox). 

The Queensland Rowing Association conducted "Henley-on-the-Brisbane" for the second time on December 4, 1909. The regatta was centred on Mowbray Park and the Merthyr foreshores along the Shafston and Merthyr Reaches, and was a really gala affair with steamers anchored in a line down the centre of the river, and launches lining the banks. The main event of the day, the Champion Eight of Queensland, was unfortunately a row-over for Commercial R.C .. The crew was - T.J. Brunditt (B), J.C. Philp (2), R. Wilson (3), C.C. Dixon (4), E.S. Petrie (5), L. Eastman (6), A. Petrie (7), J. Ferguson (S) and G. McKenzie (Cox).

The All Schools' Four-oar Championship over 3/4 mile was won easily by Southport High School from Brisbane Grammar School who suffered a mishap early in the race. 

The winning crew was:- J.W. Dowling (B) G.E. Lascelles (2) R.S. Billington (3) D.R. Dowling (S) and L.B. Chapman (Cox). 

The other results were: 

Naval Race in Cutters - 1. Stokers' crew 2. Seamens crew 

Jubilee Sculls - 1. A. Dennis - CRC 2. J. Sullivan - Wide Bay 

Commercial Senior Four - 1. Brunditts crew 2. Reids crew 

Naval Militia Whalers - 1. Brisbane stokers 2. Bundaberg seamen 

Maiden Sculls - 1. F. Ryder - CRC 2. A. Adams - CRC 

Jubilee Junior Eight - 1. Commercial 2. Brisbane 

Stewards Four - 1. Commercial 2. Brisbane 

Presidents Four - 1. Commercial 2. Brisbane 

RNR and Pyramus Whalers - 1. Pyramus crew 2. Royal Naval Reserve 

Senior Double Sculls - 1. Wide Bay 2. Bundaberg 

Henley Four (Juniors) - 1. Commercial 2. Brisbane 

Tub Race - 1. J.G. Petrie 2. E.R. Lahey 

Under 20 Four - 1. Southport High School 2. Brisbane 

Naval Militia Cutters - 1. West's crew 2. Peters' crew 

Trial Pair - 1. Tocchini's pair 2. Mellish's pair 

Maiden Double Sculls - 1. Wide Bay 2. Commercial 

Commercial Four - 1. Trundle's crew 2. Bennett's crew 

Ladies Double Sculls - 1. Misses O'Flynn & Lee 2. Misses McDonald & Abercrombie 

Naval Cadets (Cutters) - 1. Murtin's crew 2. Wilson's crew 

Brisbane R.C. Four - 1. Ord's crew 2. Sewell's crew 

Handicap Sculls - 1. F. Ryder - CRC 2. M. Sullivan - Wide bay 

Ladies Pair - 1. Misses Scott & Eglinton 2. Misses Moore & Eschenhagen 

Courier Trophy (Naval Cutters) - 1. Gayundah's cutter 2. Pyramus's cutter 

Jubilee Double Sculls (Junior) - 1. Wide Bay 2. Commercial 

Grand Handicap - 1. J. Sullivan & J.G. Smith - Wide Bay 2. Trundle's Commercial Four 

In addition to the racing there was the procession of motor, sailing and rowing boats, a lifesaving display, prizes for best decorated boat, best dressed crew and best illuminated boat. The Bavarian Band played light music and the Orpheus Glee Party also contributed. 

The Interstate Championships were held in Hobart on the Upper Derwent on April 30, 1910, and Queensland were not represented in the Interstate Sculls. C. McVilly of Tasmania won by four lengths to P.C. Ivens of Victoria with A. Priddle of New South Wales hopelessly last.

In the Interstate Eight-oar Race, the contest was rowed in two divisions from early in the race with New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania in the lead and Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia hopelessly out of it. The race was won by New South Wales from Victoria and Tasmania. 

In 1910 a group of enthusiasts got together and decided to re-start the Toowong R.C.. Permission was obtained from the Toowong Town Council to excavate a section of the bank just upstream of the Regatta Hotel and next to the Toowong/West End ferry. The members cleared the mangroves and excavated the bank, then purchased an old church, dismantled it and re-erected it on the site, sinking the stumps in the mud. A second hand pontoon was purchased and used as a landing stage. The club competed in the 1910/11 season.

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