1930 The Great Depression

The effects of the Great Depression overshadowed the 1930’s. In October 1929 Wall Street collapsed with stocks and shares plummeting.  This event ricocheted around the world. Australia was not immune to the bitter wind of poverty brought about by high unemployment and rampant inflation. By 1932 one-third of the Australian workforce was unemployed. Young single men had no option but to go “on the road” and hump their swag from one side of the country to the other searching for work. This had a serious impact on all areas of community life especially leisure and sporting pursuits. The battle for daily survival was so great that, for most ordinary Australians, it consumed most of their time and all of their energies. Many rowing clubs felt the pinch with members unable to pay subscriptions or be able to afford to travel to regattas.

The 59th Annual Meeting was again held at the Wattle Tearooms in Lydiard Street on Tuesday evening the 2nd of September. The president Mr. Harry Bunce chaired the meeting and was re-elected for the next season. The report stated that this year was not very successful. Times were tough with the worldwide economic slump. Many members had to leave Ballarat to seek employment elsewhere and of those remaining, many would have found it difficult to find the one pound subscription fee. This would have been a contributing factor in the lack of regatta success-wins were down and the club finished in the lowest position on the Junior premiership than it had for many years. The other two clubs also had quiet seasons with Ballarat and Wendouree recording 4 points and 3 points respectively on the Senior Premiership.

Despite difficult times, the Building Fund continued to grow exceptionally well. The amount in the bank more doubling from last season’s total, to 428 pounds at the end of this season. This splendid result was due mainly to the hard work of the fundraising Committees and two individuals. The committees were headed by Mesdames Morris, Beattie, Browne, and Bates with the individual efforts from Miss Jean Murray and Mr. Ray Browne. The Ballarat Yacht Club also made a donation.

As stated earlier regatta wins were down to only three but all were at junior level. The first win for the season was on Boxing Day at Warrnambool where the club was successful in a Junior four. The crew were Bob Budge, A. Aley, Lew Zilles and Otto Hauser with B. Franks the Cox. We also entered  six crews at Colac Regatta including a Junior eight and a Junior four. As a sign of the times there was no race for these crews due to insufficient entries.The next win was a double at ANA and Upper Yarra on January 25th and 27th when K. Elliot and R. Aley won the Junior pairs. The club attended six other regattas for the season with eights, fours and pairs racing but we scored no further wins. At Ballarat Regatta the club did boat a Senior eight for the first time in many years. Representatives of the club attended Bendigo Regatta as guests and enjoyed their trip.Interestingly the Ballarat Regatta association provided cars to take all the Ballarat men to Bendigo!

The Ballarat Novice Regatta proved to be a most successful day’s racing for the club when our number 1 crew scored a convincing win and our number 2 crew came third. That should have been sufficient to take the Premiership again but the report doesn’t mention that. We also had crews in the Maiden eights, Maiden pair and Novice sculls. The winning first crew was E. Hawkins, I. Looney, J. Ross and A. Conaughton with B. Franks the cox. Mr. A. J. Wilson was again responsible for most of the coaching. He also coxed his crews at training assisted by Teddy Jones, A. Thomas and B. Franks who steered all the winning crews this season. Opening day for the club was held on Saturday, November 9th with Scratch pair racing and afternoon tea for the ladies.

The Annual Cricket match against Wendouree was played in Victoria Park with Wendouree being the victors on this occasion. Captain of the club Mr. W. (Bill) Blaikie had to resign his position in January owing to an accident in which he suffered a broken leg.


Junior four, Warnambool, 1930.Bob Budge, Otto Hauser, R.Aley, Lew Zilles (stroke), B.Franks(cox).

This photo shows the communication system used at Ballarat Regatta in the 1920’s.As can be seen the race is the Junior Pairs with Mercantile first, Ballarat City, second and Colac, third. Mr.Carter Humphries used semaphore to communicate results back to the start and results would be put up on Gill’s jetty. Races were started by shotgun right up until the 1950’s so the crowd would have heard the start of each race as the shot echo across the Lake. Also in the photo is the Golden City paddle steamer which was hired to take the regatta officials out to the course. It would sit about half way down the mile course. On the left of the photo is Gill’s island, Golden City in the middle and Gill’s jetty with results displayed, on the right.

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