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History of the Queensland GPS Head of the River rowing regatta

1930 QLD GPS Head of the River

The 9th Head of the River was conducted on Saturday 3rd May 1930 on the Milton Reach of the Brisbane River under the auspices of the Metropolitan Rowing Association.

It had been decided by the Queensland Secondary School's Association to discard the Bridge Reach as the venue which did not offer an uninterrupted view of the racing from start to finish. This was the first time the race had been held on the Milton Reach and the decision was met by great enthusiasm by the thousands of spectators who could now watch the races in their entirety.  

The course remained three-quarter miles long yet it instead started at Davies Park Wharf and finished at the Knoll opposite the Morrow's factory. Large crowds had gathered at both the starting and finishing lines with the river-road lined with motor cars laden with enthusiasts keen to follow the race by automobile. 

The 1930 All Schools' Championship and Second Fours were competed for by the Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools. It was hoped that Gregory Terrace, Maryborough Grammar and Slade High School would join the competition in 1930 requiring heats like in the Victorian and New South Wales Head of the River. Sadly they were able to field a crew in either race due to financial burdens. 

The five competing schools were therefore: Brisbane State High School, The Southport School, Church of England Grammar School, Brisbane Grammar School and Brisbane Boys' College.

The Southport School had a glorious day on the river by winning both the All Schools' Championship Four and All Schools' Second Four. 

In the main event, Brisbane Grammar School rowed well to challenge the ultimate victors up until half-way after which Southport's superior stamina prevailed. Grammar's strategy of an extreme starting burst of 48 strokes to the minute and overall high rating required supreme fitness. 

Though this strategy was rewarding in 1929, Grammar would struggle to maintain a high level of intensity in the second half of the course.

Church of England Grammar were considered a strong crew who could contest for the trophy. With their stroke (Crombie) and No. 3 (Stephens) measuring at 6ft 2 inches, the Churchie crew crew had a tremendous reach allowing the them to row with good length. 

Southport though, having arrived in Brisbane on the Wednesday to prepare on the Brisbane River, were the heaviest crew averaging 11st 12lbs. Rowing a clinical race, the Seasiders acquired the school's second O'Connor Cup. 

Churchie would look to bolster their vessel stocks with the purchase of the four-oared Goolburra, thanks to the donation of 10 pounds by the Schmidt family. Name refers to a segment of the Schmidt property near Offham in western Queensland. 


Organising Committee:

The Queensland Metropolitan Secondary Schools' Association in association with Queensland Rowing Association 


Starter: Mr. G. N. Smoothey; 

Judge: Mr. L. Trout; 

Referee: Mr. G. R. H. Gill;

Umpires: Mr. F. W. de Little & Mr. W. P. Rowland; 

Time-keepers: Mr. R. Wilson & Mr. A. A. Watson  

All Schools' Championship Four

The O'Connor Cup

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: 4:46.00


1.5 Lengths (1-2)

0.5 Lengths (2-3)

1 Length (3-4)

0.25 Lengths (4-5)

1st The Southport School - Bow: J. McWhirter 11st 5lb, 2: R. A. Yates 12st 3lb, 3: P. C. Lacey 12st 7lb, Str: J. S. Turnock 11st 6lb, Cox: J. C. Stephenson 7st 1lb, Coach: Mr. T. S. Turnock 

2nd Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: V. Gill 10st 1lb, 2: A. S. Gehrman 12st 6lb, 3: S. M. Moore 12st 5lb, Str: L. D. Lawton 11st 2lb, Cox: J. W. Cameron 7st 4lb

3rd Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: S. S. Smith 10st 9lb, 2: G. C. Gall 12st 2lb, 3: St. J. Stephens 11st11lb, Str: J. C. Cromble 12st 2lb, Cox: D. R. Stuart 7st, Coach: Mr. A. A. Watson

4th Brisbane State High School - Bow: W. A. Higginson 9st 7lb, 2: D. M. Griffiths 10st 2lb, 3: L. Leycock 10st, Str: H. L. Wood 10st 5lb, Cox: E. Neville 7st

5th Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: G. R. Nicholson 10st 8lb, 2: R. Dutton 10st 10lb, 3: G. F. Thomason 11st 3lb, Str: D. Wetherell 10st 4lbs, Cox: C. C. P. Logan 7st 8lb

Brisbane Boys' College All Schools' Crew. 

Church of England Grammar School

S. S. Smith, the Bow seat in the 1930 Church of England Grammar School First VI, represented Queensland in 1934 King's Cup crew. 

The Race Described

Mr. Smoothey got the crews away to a good start and it was Brisbane Grammar School who took an early advantage, rating a high 48 strokes per minute.

Southport, rating 40, eventually drew level with  Grammar after 100 yard and the two boats rowed in unison until the half way mark.  Church of England Grammar School were only a canvas behind rowing in excellent combination with a steady stroke of 38 followed by Brisbane Boy's College half a length behind and State High bringing up the rear by a length. 

Passing the Milton Ferry, Grammar, executing a short crisp stroke, were just 6 feet behind southport. With Churchie experiencing steering issues that cost them two lengths, it appeared that the 1930 Head of the River would be battled out between Brisbane Grammar and The Southport School.

Southport, with a powerful leg drive and exquisite technique, then asserted themselves. Despite rating 37 to Grammar's 40, the southern crew secured a lengths lead on their main adversaries with the finishing line only 400 yards away. From here, Southport's rowing was described as a procession. 

With good length, an even body swing and clean blade work, Southport gave an impressive demonstration of rowing's finer points. 

Grammar in vain endeavoured to make a final dash to challenge for the trophy yet Southport maintained control of the race and showed little signs of fatigue, crossing the line clear winners by one and a half lengths. 

Churchie had recovered well from their steering mishap, gaining the two lengths they had lost to come third by a quarter length. 

It would have taken a strong crew to defeat Southport, they were the heaviest in the race and as conditions were choppy due to a southerly breeze requiring brute strength, their weight yielded an added advantage. They also had the best of the positions, being nearest the southern bank which is the most sheltered side of the river. It is more than likely however that they would have won from any position. 

Brisbane Grammar did not have a coach at all in 1930. With this in mind, Grammar's ability to push Southport for the majority of the race was commendable. 

All Schools' Second Four

Distance: 0.75 Mile

Winning Time: 5:11.00


3 Lengths (1-2)

0.25 Lengths (2-3)

0.5 Lengths (3-4)

0.5 Lengths (4-5)

1st The Southport School - Bow: J. L. Lampe 10st 6lb, 2: R. W. Overell 10st 11lb, 3: L. E. Towell 13st 12lb, Str: J. A. Heaton 9st 5lb, Cox: J. V. Lousada 6st 9lb, Coach: Mr. T. S. Turnock

2nd Brisbane Boys’ College - Bow: D. Kerr 10st 2lb, 2: I. MacDonald 10st 10lb, 3: C. O’Rielly 9st 3lb, Str: P. Wright 9st 8lb, Cox: F. Macyear 6st 7lb

3rd Anglican Church Grammar School - Bow: D. Whitehouse 9st 10lb, 2: J. Scott 9st 11lb, 3: R. D. Fraser 11st 6lb, Str: D. C. Jackson 8st 6lb, Cox: W. Dalzall 6st 11lb, Coach: Mr. A. A. Watson 

4th Brisbane Grammar School - Bow: D. Row 9st 5lb, 2: R. Bond 9st 13lb, 3: B. McConachie 10st 6lb, Str: A. M. Barber 10st 11lb, Cox: M. C. Laurie-Roden 7st

5th Brisbane State High School - Bow: K. C. Plumb 8st 12lb, 2: R. Daly 8st 13lb, 3: A. C. Gordon 9st 9lb, Str: G. H. Birkbeck 8st 12lb, Cox: T. Moyon 6st 10lb

The Race Described


A delay of 20 minutes was experienced when the brass roller of Brisbane Grammar's stroke seat snapped. With the affected crew securing a seat from Brisbane Rowing Club's boat, the crews lined up again and set off. 

Brisbane Boy’s College frantically got to the lead, rating 42 strokes per minute, followed by Southport, who went of steadily but with plenty of power stroking at 38. After a minutes rowing Southport had caught college and both crews rowed in even terms to the Milton Ferry.

Church of England Grammar from the start appeared to be in distress when their No. 2 seat jumped his slide rendering the crew stationary, costing them 3 lengths. They recovered themselves quickly however and rowed solidly. 

At the Milton Ferry, Southport's main challengers, College, experienced steering difficulties which allowed the southerners to establish a lead of 1 length. Southport's second half was extremely strong as they increased their lead with every stroke.

College rowed gallantly in an effort to make up for the lengths they had lost but to no avail for Southport was too strong. Demonstrating supreme stamina and a potent swing, Southport crossed the finishing post 3 lengths ahead of Grammar with Churchie, having recovered very well, only a quarter of a length astern.

Southport were very much the dominant crew and their success was never really in doubt once the first half of the race had elapsed


Page 9, The Brisbane Courier, Wednesday 7th May 1930 Edition via Trove

Page 9, The Brisbane Courier, Wednesday 30th April 1930 Edition via Trove

Page 16, The Brisbane Courier, Monday 5th May 1930 Edition via Trove

Page 14, The Telegraph, Wednesday 30th April 1930 Edition via Trove

Page 12, The Telegraph, Monday 5th May 1930 edition Via Trove

Page 9, Daily Standard, Friday 2nd May 1930 Edition Via Trove

Page 9, Daily Standard, Friday 9th May 1930 Edition via Trove

Page 7, Daily Standard Monday 5th May 1930 Edition via Trove

Page 7, Sunday Mail, Sunday 4th May 1930 Edition

Page 10, Sunday Mail, Sunday 4th May 1930 Edition via Trove

Page 29, The Clayfield Collegian, December 1930 Edition via Trove

Pages 31-44, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School 

Pages 45-52, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School 

Pages 68-98, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School 

Page 123, Churchie Rowing by Peter Jell, Published by Anglican Church Grammar School 

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