Rowing on the Parramatta River
Professional sculling was a popular spectator sport of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, drawing enormous crowds to watch races.
Edward Trickett became Australia’s first sports champion when, in 1876, he defeated the English champion, Joseph Sattler on the Thames River.
Enthusiasm for sculling led to the formation of several rowing clubs along the river, chief of which was the Sydney Rowing Club. Although formed near Circular Quay in 1870, the Sydney Rowing Club purchased land at Abbotsford and later moved its headquarters to the Parramatta River site.
One of the most important annual events was the Greater Public Schools Head of the River regatta which was held between Ryde Bridge and Cabarita Ferry Wharf from 1893 until 1935, when the event was transferred to the Nepean River. Trams ran almost non-stop from the Enfield depot taking huge crowds to Cabarita Point to watch the finish of the race. Supporters chartered ferries and launches, decorated them with their team’s colours and made the spectacular trip along the river to the finishing point.