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Australian Rowing History

Significant Events in Australian Rowing



The gold rush in Victoria had drained many rowers to the gold fields leaving many regatta short of entries. Van Dieman's Land Governor Sir William Denison wrote of the 1851 Hobart Town Regatta: "The Port Phillip rather interfered with our great race, as with everything else: for the whalers found great difficulty in keeping their crews together."


First Kargaroo Point (now Bellerive) Regatta Tasmania.

24th May 1852

North Shore Regatta first held.

30th Nov 1852

Balmain Regatta. Rowing stated to be the sport of the people and in great favour.

14th Oct 1854

Watson Bay Regatta.

30th Nov 1854

Balmain Regatta. Joe Donnelly won "Boys under 14 Race" in 12-feet dingies. He became a champion rower and a boatbuilder.

2nd January 1855

The final Hobart Town Regatta under the colony's old Van Dieman's Land name - 6,000 attended.

27th Feb 1855

John Deward, from England, beat Tom McGrath for £400 stakes in heavy boats; course from Fort Macquarie round Shark Island and back; time, 45 minutes 7 seconds.

9th Apr 1855

Darling Harbour Regatta. Issac Howard won Outrigger Sculling Race. James Edwards (afterwards of Melbourne), who had just arrived from England competed. (He was badly fouled.) This was the first time outrigged boats had been seen and used, and they were much favoured. (Note - James Edwards stayed in Sydney for some time, and became coxswain of H.M. Customs boat.) John Deward, H. White, J Thomas Day, and Jim Candlish came from England. They were good rowers with sculls and oars, and laid the foundation of New South Wales rowing. Our old champions were very strong, but not clever, until they learned from the newcomers - John Blackman. James Edwards became the Clasper of Australia on the Yarra bank in Melbourne.

30th Nov 1856

Amateurs advocated the same definition of an amateur as then used in England.

10th Mar 1857

First Upper Yarra Regatta, Melbourne.

19th Jan 1858

Dick Green beat James Candlish for £400 and the championship of Australia on the Parramatta from Shepherd's Point to the Brothers Rocks, same course as now used from Ryde Bridge to Searle's Monument. This was the first race over that course, the time being 23 minutes 35 seconds. Green used a boat built by J. Messenger (London), and Candlish one built by Morgan, of Melbourne.

9th Mar 1859

Australian Subscription Rowing Club formed at eastern side of Woolloomooloo Bay.

17th Mar 1859

St. Patrick's Day Regatta (a week later). Mr. Q. L. Deioitte, President of the New South Wales Rowing Association, won his first race.

3rd Sep 1859

Melbourne University Boat Club founded, being the oldest rowing club in still in existence in Australia.

4 & 5 May 1860

Melbourne Regatta (founder, Professor M. H. Irving), first amateur rowing club regatta in Australia.

Professor M H Irving

Professor M H Irving

31st Aug 1860

Canterbury Rowing Club opened (New Zealand).

10th Dec 1860

First Anniversary Regatta, Brisbane River.

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