Not letting the grass grow under their feet the committee organised in December 1870 several new boats from Melbourne sent by Mr James Edwards for the approval of the club. They comprised one streak gig, three scullers boats, one bat-wing pair and two clinker four-oared gigs. The club obviously purchased at least some of these boats as in the January of 1871 it was reported that the lake was covered in boats with the City Rowing Club “mustered in strong force”and were out in fours, pairs and sculling boats. It is very probable that Dan Brophy, the treasurer bankrolled the purchases as the new club would have had very little money in the bank after just two months of operation.
January 21st, 1871 the fledgling club held a Grand Opening and it was truly a grand occasion. The report from the Star in part recounts that at five o’clock on that Friday the lake “assumed for a time quite a gala appearance” with a procession of boats rowing around the island in the gardens and returning to the boathouses. First came four scullers, then six fours (some of which were from the Ballarat Club) and more sculling boats at the rear. They would have been dressed on their white rowing gear with navy and red caps and possible flags flying from the clubhouse.
THE FIRST RACE
The very first race rowed in by a Ballarat City crew was a scratch race held after the grand Opening procession. It was a handicap race between two four oared gigs up round the island at the Gardens and back to opposite the boathouse. The City crew were stroked by club Captain J.W.Graham and won racing off a four-minute handicap from the Ballarat Rowing Club four. I’m sure that was the first and last time that the Ballarat Club afforded their sister club such a handsome handicap. Some of the Ballarat oarsmen were apparently a little out of shape and “were much distressed” at the conclusion of the race.
After such an auspicious start the club settled down to regular training and intra club scratch races. Because of the scarcity of regattas and the difficulty of travelling often match races and scratch races were held regularly and avidly reported in the local press.
There was no regatta held on Lake Wendouree in 1871, as the water levels again were too low. The 1871 Ballarat Regatta was held again at Lake Learmonth and was a very small affair with only four events! As the Ballarat Club were the only club entered they won all the events except for the locals pair oared race. Learmonth had previously hosted regattas in 1864, 1867 and 1869 due to the low water levels in Lake Wendouree.
The first annual meeting of the Ballarat City Rowing Club was held on September 6th 1871. It was at this meeting the beginning of the season was fixed as the 1st of August. The committee for the forthcoming season was elected with Mr. J. Tynan secretary, Mr Thomas Cowan, president and Mr Daniel Brophy continuing as treasurer. A committee of the following members was formed: Messrs. J. W. Graham, O’Donnell, Armstrong, Hanna, Bennett, Fredrick Hughes,Trevaskis, Clarke and Patience. There was some alteration to the club rules that had been formulated in 1870 the main change to the rules to allow “persons of seventeen years and under to enter the club on payment of one pound subscription instead of 30 shillings as at present”.
The commencement of the club’s activities for its second season was set down for Friday, September 8th at half past three.
The opening of the 1871 season was marked with a grand procession of boats down the lake on Saturday, August 26th 1871 –“ a finer day could not have been selected…. the weather calm and not cold”. City and Ballarat combined again and the following boats from City took part with a four-oared gig of Rendell, Joyce, D. Patience, Graham, (stroke),then pair-oared outriggers with. J. W. Graham (Capt) and Joyce, second Hamilton and Clark and third Davis and Byrne –followed by two single sculls rowed by Messrs. Eason and Murray. The procession rowed around the island at the further side of the lake, and on the homeward course formed a line with the City Club four-oared gig in the centre, and thus reached the boathouses. A scratch match between a “legal” Ballarat four and a mixed crew was later held with the “legal” crew winning.
This year the committee of the club decided to purchase the Alabama boatshed and more boats. The membership had grown to 64.
Our first crew competed at the 1871 Geelong regatta which would have been held on Corio Bay as racing was not held on the Barwon River until 1876. The City four was recorded as coming ‘nowhere at all’. Ballarat Rowing Club also competed at Geelong and took the honours in the Maiden four-oared gig with a crew comprising (bow) W. Stout, (2) W. Gledhill, (3) John Stout and (stroke) T. Mann with coxswain C. Southerwood. William and John Stout transferred to Ballarat City in 1872 and continued to have many wins for the club. John Lang in the “Victorian Oarsman” credits Ballarat City with the win but in fact Ballarat City did not record its next regatta win until 1873.
DANIEL BROPHY-first treasurer of the club
Daniel was described in later life as tall, loose limbed and sandy. He was a man of great standing in the community and contributed greatly to the building and growth of Ballarat in his work as a miner, hotelier and staunch Catholic. He was born on November 13th 1832 at Castlecomber, Kilkenny, Ireland. He was the youngest son of a farmer William Brophy and wife Margaret (nee Purcell). He was educated at local schools including one run by the Society of Friends the Quakers. He was a young boy during the devastating potato Famine of 1845. As a result of the famine he and his family were forced to flee in 1847.They sailed on the ‘Abbotsford’ to Quebec in Canada. His mother died en route, as did many of the other passengers. Of the 350 people who left the shores of Ireland only 95 survived the journey. One of them was young Dan-age just 15. At this tender age he was more or less left to his own resources and took up working in a shipyard. Later he moved to New York and worked for a relative in the grocery trade.
News of the Australian gold rushes reached America Dan, like so many others, left to seek his fortune. He arrived in Melbourne aboard the Torrens in March 1853.He initially went to Sandhurst walking there from Melbourne with his companions Dr. McMahon, Mr. Cause (a Canadian barrister), Mr. H. Cumberford (son of a wealthy Galway shipowner) and Mr. J. Blake. They took employment in quarry, as there was a drought on and worked for about a month. He moved to Taradale where he and his friends were credited with discovering the first payable gold on that field. By 1855 he moved to Ballarat where he worked as a practical miner on behalf of himself and his party. He was next employed as the first sluice man to wash gold at the United Band of Hope Company Mine. Displaying shrewd business acumen he became an investor. He continued to be both lucky and very successful as a mining magnate. He was one of the originators of the celebrated Band of Hope Consortium, which by 1888 had yielded some 3,000,000 pounds.
He married in 1859 Ellen Mary Berkery. She had been married before and had several children. They had ten children. In 1864 he purchased land at Bungaree and also commenced keeping the Atlantic Hotel in Skipton Street. In 1866 he moved to the British Hotel at the Corner of Doveton and Sturt Street. He renamed it Brophy’s hotel and it became one of the prominent hotels of the time. It was also the venue for the first meeting of the Ballarat City Rowing Club and the main venue for committee meetings for many years. Brophy was a very successful businessman, generous and community minded. He served on many boards and committees and gave generously of his time and money.
He was president of the Ballarat Hospital and on the board of the Orphan Asylum. He served as mayor of the City of Ballarat in 1875 and was a councillor until 1883. He was variously involved in the Ballarat cricket club, Old Colonists Association, and Ballarat Agricultural society, Ballarat Miners and Bungaree Turf Clubs and the Hibernian Society. A staunch catholic, the Pope awarded him the Knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory in a visit to Rome in 1880. He lived a full and fantastic life dying on May 10th 1895 aged a mere 63.His obituary simply read;
We ‘ve lost our genial, kindly Dan,
And to replace him,
Where’s the man?”