View of Lake Wendouree from 1905

In the photo you can clearly see View Point and a little island called Gill’s Island that was later removed during the 1916 drought. You can also see at the top of the photo the thin black line that is the remains of the embankment that ran from McArthur Street across to the Botanical Gardens. The finish of the original rowing course was between Gill’s Island and View Point.

This year saw the Commons brothers, Robert Hanniford Commons and Fredrick William(usually known as William)Commons become our most successful oarsmen of the 1900-1920’s. This year they took out four Senior pair races. They were just a year apart in age and obviously made a dynamic pair and even in the races they didn’t win they were a very close second. It would be 50 years before another dynamic duo of Frank Beattie and Albie McGuire would win Senior pairs.

As mentioned in the 1911 blog with the wins at the start of the season in 1911 added to the considerable success at regattas in early 1912 the club placed second on the Champion club of Victoria premiership. This was an outstanding achievement and one that would also not be replicated for another 50 years.

The Building Fund, which had started in 1909 with the hope of building a shed the equal of the Ballarat and Wendouree sheds, was now at the respectable level of 330 pounds thanks to several very successful fundraising events. Several concerts and entertainments were held such as the Entertainment held on Viewpoint in 1911 which featured a light show from Beauchamp’s biograph and music supplied by the City of Ballarat Band. Several thousand people attended adding considerably to the building fund. During the winter Mr. Fred Luke overhauled all the boats in the shed and so the club was ready to open the season under more favourable circumstances than it had for many years.

Racing began at the Ballarat Rowing Association Novice Regatta where the club had two fours competing but for the first time in three years didn’t score a win. T. Luke finished second in the Novice sculls at the same regatta. William and Robert Commons competed in the Champion pair event and rowed the fastest heat of the day only to be beaten in the final by Albert Park by the smallest of margins-1/2 a canvas.

On New Year’s Day 1912 the club ran a successful excursion to Colac for Colac Regatta. Entries were in the Maiden pair and four, Junior pair and Senior pair. It was at this regatta the Commons brothers raced in and won their first Senior pair with Ossie McPhail the coxswain. The Maiden four was also victorious with the crew comprising J. Scott, W. Palmer, T. Luke and E. A. James with A. Sargeant cox.

At Colac Regatta the club entered a Maiden four and a Lightweight four with both crew giving a good account of themselves but no wins. A Senior and Maiden pair went to Albert Park and Upper Yarra Regattas again without bringing home a trophy.

Ballarat Regatta and again all members were out in force with a Maiden eight, four and scull and Junior and Senior sculls and Senior pair. Again the sole winning crew was William and Robert Commons. At Barwon Regatta we entered a Maiden four and eight and Senior pair. William and Robert Commons won the Senior pair.

The final regatta of the year 1912 was at Bairnsdale where the Senior pair and a Maiden pair competed with the Commons brothers taking their fourth victory for the season with R. Geddes the cox.

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