The eight-oared Cedar rowing shell “Tasmania”, was built by Melbourne boat builders A & E Edwards, for the 1926 Interstate Eight-Oared Championship of Australia.
Rowed over the three-mile Hamilton Reach course in Brisbane on Saturday, May 8, 1926, the Tasmanian crew beat South Australia by a length in a time of 15 minutes and 43 seconds, with Victoria ¾ of a length further back, and Queensland fourth, two lengths behind. New South Wales did not finish.
After the race, the shell was housed and rowed at the Longford Rowing Club, and on the demise of that club moved to the North Esk Rowing Club. It fell into disuse in the 1950s as newer boats were acquired.
Roger Fowler, who was a member of the North Esk Rowing Club and who worked at the Boag’s Brewery saved the boat by putting it up in the beams of the old malt store there.
“Tasmania” has subsequently been accommodated at the Riverside Rowing Club, then moved with that clubs equipment to the Tamar Rowing Club, then to a shed on Roger Fowler’s son Darryl’s Riverside property before it was restored and took pride of place in the QVMAG’s Inveresk Sporting Gallery where it remained until 2018.
With QVMAG looking to revise its display area and its capacity to mount different exhibitions, “Tasmania” was again looking for a home. Recognising the significance of this 94-year-old shell, Rowing Tasmania has made space available at Lake Barrington International Rowing Course to ensure the safe storage of the boat.
“Tasmania” is significant for a number of reasons “ to wooden boat enthusiasts for its traditional Cedar veneer construction and intricate spars and bracing and the design and construction of it staterooms (rowing stations); to the Tasmanian rowing community as the boat in which Tasmania last won the Interstate Eight-Oared Race for the King’s Cup; and for the community at large, as an example of the type of boat rowed at the Royal Henley Peace Regatta in 1919, at which the AIF Number One Crew won the gold cup commissioned as the prize for the winning crew by King George the Fifth.
The winning 1919 crew included two Tasmanians “Fred Robb and Arch House, both from the Derwent Rowing Club” now the Derwent Mercantile Collegiate Rowing Club. To mark the Centenary of Australia winning the King’s Cup, Rowing Australia and Rowing Tasmania have arranged for the trophy itself to be displayed at this wooden boat festival and the Royal Hobart Regatta Association is holding a special wooden eights race to coincide with the Centenary of the King”s Cup and the 2019 AWBF.