A favourite pastime of residents is to walk along the waterfront to enjoy the peaceful vista. Not many of us know that between the “green lights” opposite the cove is a monument to one of Australia’s greatest rowing athletes, Henry Ernest Searle.
Little is known of his childhood except that he came to Sydney when he was 22 years old.
Throughout 1888 Henry Searle broke all previous records in Parramatta River for rowing.
In September of that same year, Searle beat the then current world champion, Peter Kemp, the prize-money being one thousand pounds.
In 1889 Searle accepted a challenge by an American, W.J. O’Connor, to race him on the Thames River in England, over a distance of 7.24km. The prize-money was to be two thousand pounds (a tidy sum in those days). Searle won!
On his return to Australia, Searle became ill with enteric fever. He was rushed to hospital in Melbourne and died on 10th December 1889.
He was only 23 years old. Henry Searle is buried on Esk Island in the Clarence River.
The monument you see across the river each time you walk along the cove marks the finish line of the old Parramatta River Racing Course, the start being at Ryde Bridge, a distance of 4.8km.