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History of Murray Rowing Association

3. Maturity and its Problems

The journalism of 1888 may raise a smile or howls of holy horror, but at least it demonstrates just how much the annual Regatta had become part of the way of life of this district. "The Challenge crew of the present year (1888) were only babes dressed in swaddling clothes and some of them not even known to this world when the Regatta was first inaugurated and only have a meagre idea of the contests that took place upwards of 20 years ago when Messrs. Wilson, Briggs, Houston (2), Hunter, Smith, Holman and others were the pride of the Lake". ("Rutherglen Sun", January 6th, 1888).

During this year two unfortunate incidents occurred. First the booth at the Lake was burnt down by a youth, then the Rutherglen Rowing Club was split by a group which broke away to form the Lake Moodemere Rowing Club. Office bearers of this new club were R. Turner, (President), G. Graham (Vice-President), N. Nielson, (Secretary), plus Committee members Hiskins, Briggs, Chandler, Levin, Campbell and Yates.

This breakaway movement apparently depleted the ranks of the Rutherglen Rowing Club badly. A meeting was called in 1889 at which Mr. Drenen moved and Mr. Wilson seconded that the Rutherglen Rowing Club be reorganised. The subsequent new office bearers were T. Looney (President), D. Hamilton (Secretary), Hunt and Douglas (Vice-Presidents). So great was the feeling of animosity between the Mother Club and its unwanted offspring, that in November the Rutherglen Club decided to seek permission to practise on Lake King in the township and to transfer their boat, "The Gem", to a shed in the park near Lake King. The Club colours were to be blue and white.

The Regatta of 1889 had to be postponed until January 7th, because of heavy rain. As January 7th fell on a Monday, the day was declared a holiday for the occasion. Mr. R. Turner, who filled the position of Judge that year, was also a member of the original 1860 Committee.

Consternation was apparent amongst the aboriginals at this 1889 Regatta, their canoe race was removed from the programme and they were so "Put out" that they had to be compensated with tobacco and sixpences. The boot had been on the other foot in 1884 when the aboriginals would not strip a canoe for their programmed race, saying that the bark would not strip well at that time of the year. However, all was back to normal in 1894 and the Canoe Race took place as scheduled, thus affording considerable amusement especially to the lubras present.

As in previous years (see Rules 3 and 12 of the 1873 Programme, (Appendix 2), sites for Regatta booths were "sold" by public auction to the highest bidder. The point of interest about the auction of booth sites for the 1890 Regatta was that Mrs. Briggs was the successful bidder for the main refreshment site. Mrs. Briggs was the proprietor of the "Rising Sun Hotel" which stood at the Lake Corner (what is now the cross-roads of the Murray Valley Highway and the three chain road from Corowa to Wangaratta), next door to the old Lake Moodemere State School. Furthermore she was the grandmother of Mr. G. H. (Devil) Briggs who was President of the Murray Rowing Association, 1953-1962. Today a more sedate method is used to let booth-sites, the Committee calls for tenders and accepts portion of the profits as payment.

A public meeting was held on January 10th, 1890, to consider the possibility of publicly recognising the "manly action" of the Lake Moodemere Club crew who had gone to the assistance of the Rutherglen crew whose craft had captized in the Lake during the Regatta that year. Mr. Hamilton thought that the meeting should also recognise the assistance of a young man, King, who had swum out to help at the time of the accident.

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