History 1872 to present day

04th January 2012
Article Publisher

The Bairnsdale Rowing Club was formed on November 14th, 1872. The first President was Joseph Day and the local Postmaster, B.C. Jones was elected Captain. The club initially had 20 members.

The club joining fee was £1/1/0 with a membership fee of 5/- per quarter.

Messrs. B.C. Jones and J. Meadows were charged with the responsibility of calling at the draper’s to select colours for a club uniform to be worn on the first opening day, January 15th 1873. White with a Royal Blue sash was selected.

A crowd of 400 attended the first regatta which was held in March 1873.


By September 1877 the club owned 2 x outrigger pair-oared boats, test gigs, 4 x four-oared boats and 2 clinkers.

An "Opening of the Season" event was held in October/November each year including rowing, swimming and diving with a local band and caterers in attendance.

1891 to 1894

Bairnsdale’s first appearance by a crew (H T Arthur (stroke) N Pearson, C Hopkins, G M Jones (bow)) in the Victorian Rowing Association Regatta on the Yarra River in Melbourne in the 1891-92 season in which they were beaten by one length by Richmond City in the final heat.

In 1894 a ladies eight from Bairnsdale took part in the Easter regatta. The Clubhouse was prone to frequent flooding and members often had to mount rescue operations for their boats and gear.


Bairnsdale Rowing Club boat house, 1905

A large group at the boat house of the Bairnsdale Rowing Club in 1905.

The boat house was then located at the bottom of Mitchell Port Road.

The Shire Offices and Bairnsdale Court House near the corner of Nicholson and Bailey Street can be seen in the background.

1914 to 1918

During the late 1890’s through to the 1950’s crews from Bairnsdale competed successfully at regattas held from Sale to the Upper Yarra, the Barwon, Ballarat to Geelong, and many places in between.

BRC had its own Football, Cricket and Swimming teams within the club and won the 1914 Premiership and Championship in Football.

In 1917 an all Australian crew won an international race on the Thames in England. The stroke for the crew was C.J. Cooper ex-captain of the Bairnsdale Rowing Club.

The trophy was retained in Australia and approval was eventually obtained from H.M. the King after personal intervention by Winston Churchill, to call it the “Kings Cup” for annual competition between all Australian States in Eights and is still considered to be the Premier Rowing Trophy in Australia.

Bairnsdale Easter Regattas held on the Mitchell River became a regular feature and attracted crews from all over Victoria.

After the 1914-18 War, supported by public subscriptions a granite war memorial was erected to commemorate those 57 members of the Rowing Club who were enrolled for service.


Mitchell River Easter Rowing Regatta Bairnsdale 1910

At the 1923 Regatta, the Bairnsdale Rowing Club eight was beaten into 2nd place by one of the metropolitan crews which had more modern boats that were 3 feet longer. The rules at that time were for the rudders of boats to be in line at the start. As a result, the Rules were changed so that the bows of crafts were to be lined up at the start.

A further result of that race was that a well known pastoralist, Mr R G Brownlow, presented the BRC with a brand new and up to date racing eight complete in all respects.

Apart from the rowing races a variety of entertainment was provided for the crowds over the years including bands, a night carnival, food and drink stalls, dances and picnics.

1942 to 1965

In 1942 and 1943 R.A.A.F. personnel stationed in Bairnsdale held rowing regattas which were popular and well attended by the local community.

The Club declined significantly after the First World War, still further in the following Depression Years and further yet during the Second World War.

It never recovered from these setbacks and, despite desperate measures for revival, it's affairs were wound up at a meeting in July 1965. Boats were sold to Daramalan College, Dickson in Canberra and the historic old boatshed was dismantled the following year.

Present Day

Bairnsdale Rowing Club 2013

140 years after it was first formed, the Bairnsdale Rowing Club is building membership once again.

The "Learn 2 Row" program held every Saturday morning is a great starting point for new members.

On the 1st and 2nd of September 2012, the club hosted the "Mitchell River Regatta". The event attracted around 200 rowers from Melbourne and other parts of Victoria and was an outstanding success.

The "Mitchell River Regatta" will continue into the future as the annual "marque" event of the Bairnsdale Rowing Club.

1 Comment(s) - Average Rating 5 / 5 (Show All)

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Interesting article !

- 10th July 2014

That's a very interesting article. Particularly like the old photos. The Bairnsdale Court House in the background behind the old BRC clubhouse looks exactly the same today.

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Course for Head of the Mitchell River Rowing Regatta

Mitchell River Rowing Regatta revived in September 2012