The River as a Rowing Course

Between 1830 and 1880, rowing was the most popular sport in Sydney.  This popularity probably had a lot to do with the success that Sydney rowers had achieved in World Championship events.  The first Australian to win a World Championship was Ted Trickett, who, on 27 June 1876, beat the English champion J. H. Sadler on the Thames River. The race was held on the traditional course between Putney and Mortlake.  Trickett was born on the shores of the Parramatta River. Between 1876 and 1914 there were 45 contests for the World Professional Sculling Championships held on the Parramatta River.  Australians won 32 of these;  Ted Trickett, Bill Birch, Peter Kemp, Henry Searle, John McLean, and George Towns were all winners.

The first interstate amateur rowing race between New South Wales and Victoria was rowed on the Parramatta River in February 1863 and the first Intervarsity event, rowed with 4s, was held in December 1870 between Sydney University and Melbourne University. It was not until 1874 that the Sydney Rowing Club imported the first rowing eight into Australia.  They celebrated this event, and the opening of their new Abbotsford boatshed, by rowing the eight from Woolloomooloo to Abbotsford.  The first Intervarsity race for 8s was rowed on the Yarra River in Melbourne in 1878. Thereafter, the event was held on alternate years on the Parramatta River.

Newington Boatshed

In 1893 the first regatta for Sydney Schools (the Greater Public Schools) was held. It included a race for 8s and the winner of this event was known as ‘The Head of the River’.  The course then was the same as that rowed by the professional scullers – from Shepherds Point to Searle’s Monument. The last GPS Regatta was held on the Parramatta River in 1935. In 1936 the event was transferred to the Nepean River near Penrith. As a result of the schools’ rowing activities, many of them established their boatsheds on the Parramatta River not far from the Sydney Rowing Club.  Sydney High School is on the Abbotsford side opposite Bedlam Bay.

The Sydney Church of England Grammar Schools’ (Shore) boatshed is located in Looking Glass Bay.  Sydney Grammar School boatshed and The Scots College boatshed are located to the west of Looking Glass Point.  Newington’s boatshed is in Hen and Chicken Bay. The King’s School used to have it there also but have since moved to Kissing Point Bay.  St Joseph’s College have their boatshed in Tarban Creek while the St Ignatius College (Riverview) boatshed is on the Lane Cove River.

Almost opposite Looking Glass Bay is the Sydney Rowing Club. This club had its beginnings in Woolloomooloo Bay in March 1859 as the Subscription Rowing Club. It was to be a club for amateur rowers. On St Patrick’s Day 1859, the new club conducted an amateur rowing event at the Balmain Regatta. It was won by Q.L.Deloitte who went on to become the first President of the Sydney Rowing Club when it was formed on 7 March 1870. The Sydney Rowing Club is adjacent to the Abbotsford Flying Squadron – a club dedicated to dinghy sailing.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

We moderate ALL comments. Please do not be concerned if your comment does not show up immediately. Please do not hit the "Post Comment" button multiple times. Thank you.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *