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History of Ballarat Head of the Lake rowing regatta

1921 Ballarat Head of the Lake

The dominance of Ballarat Grammar in this event was beginning to show at this regatta conducted on Saturday 15th October. 

The annual Head of the Lake race for Ballarat public schools, which is year by year growing in popularity and interest, was decided on Saturday under very adverse weather conditions. A cold north-westerly breeze swept across the Lake causing the water to be rough and choppy, chilling the spectators and making it unpleasant for the competitors. Ballarat Star 17/10/1921

The newspaper reports were detailed.

Although the St .Patrick’s College crew started as favourites, being the heavier crew and having had a good row the week previous against Ballarat Rowing Club’s Senior four, the race was won decisively by Grammar school coached by Mr. J.B.Suffren. The Grammar crew had lost one of the crew a week before the regatta. P.Champion, who was rowing in two seat came down with influenza and had to be replaced by Evans. Ballarat College were equally unlucky when on the day before the race, A. A. Cameron was also out of the crew due to influenza and his brother A. L. Cameron took his place. Although his brother was an experienced rower, he had not rowed in the crew before and this told in the race.

This was also the year that the St.Patrick’s Old Boy’s Association suggested that the old boys of all three Colleges should meet together occasionally and promote the interests of the schools in Ballarat. As a result of an initial meeting of the three Old Boy’s Associations, it was decided to institute an old boy’s race as a curtain raiser for the Head of the Lake and also a social gathering of old boy’s after the regatta. The inaugural Old Collegian’s Race was duly held and the Star reported it was a “rattling good” race with Ballarat College being the winners. The Ballarat College Old Boy’s crew was extremely well credentialed, comprising Archie Dawson Junior as stroke, Archie Dawson Senior in 3 seat, H. Know in 2 seat and J. Woodward in bow. The coxswain was Alex King. Arch Dawson Senior had been rowing for over 30 years. Archie Dawson Junior was his nephew and son of W.D. Dawson who was coach of the Ballarat College crew!

Prior to the start of racing the Walker brothers presented a new boat to Ballarat College. It was named the “Lieutenant J. T. Walker” after their brother jack who was killed in Palestine in World War 1. Jack Walker was an old Collegian and also a member of Ballarat City Rowing Club. The College crew raced in the new boat.

Also presented this year for the first time was the J.D. Woolcott Cup to the winning Head of the Lake crew. It was presented to the winning crew by Mrs. J.D.Woolcott. The cup was to be presented each year until it  was to be won three times, not necessarily in succession, before it was retained by any one of the schools.

Organising Committee and Officials

Organising Committee: Ballarat Public Schools' Association

Officials: Ballarat Regatta Association

Judges - Mr George Tonner and F D Mann

Umpire - Mr A W Bennett

Starter - Mr T F Moran. 

Clerk of scales - Mr I A Moran. 

Timekeeper - Mr J Marks


  • Ballarat Star 17/10/1921, page 1.
  • Melbourne Herald, 8/10/1921, page 5

Principal researcher: Kate Elliott


Head of the Lake

Time: 6:37 (mile course)

1st Ballarat Grammar - Bow: A Henry. 2: E Evans, 3: O W Danman, Str: E N Eyres, Cox: C Henry, Coach: Mr J B Suffren
2nd Ballarat College
- Bow: L McLennon, 2: A L Cameron, 3: W Hicks, Str: H Bradby, Cox: J Tanner, Coach: Mr W D Dawson
3rd St Patrick's College
- Bow: D Tobin, 2: F Uther, 3: D Foley, Str: V Kelly, Cox: L Goulding, Coach: Mr  J P Bourke

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