Concord & Ryde Sailing Club Inc

FROM THE ARCHIVES - #54. - UTR Nov, 2023

I am continuing with the Up The River of April, 1994. In his report the Commodore, Chris Lowe, mentioned that he had received a letter from Chris Lloyd-Owen in which he raised the issue of our handicap system which he felt had some deficiencies and asked that the Race Committee review this. A meeting was arranged and there was a very lively discussion on this subject with some members saying that the current was too slow and others backed the current system. Our handicapper Bruce Dunlop had been asked to run some of the ideas raised against past results but he found that most suggestions had some problems or would not be to everyone’s liking.


In the end it was decided by a motion that the last three races would be used to determine the boat’s handicap, currently the last five races had been used with the dropping of the two slowest.


Chris also mentioned the on-going problem of launching and retrieving our boats amongst the rocks that had appeared on our launching beach due to the wash of the ferries.


From time to time our secretary, Sandra Donovan, would write an article for UTR about old CRSC sailors turning up at our Club or other places where she attended. In this issue she wrote about a few including one she met when she attended Hunters Hill Sailing Club when she was there to collect her trophy for winning the Australia Day Regatta that I mentioned in my last article. This was a chap called Bob Chapman who recognised her instantly but Sandra said it took her a second or two to recognise him It had been 25 years since she had last seen him. He was still very interested in our Club, which he has joined in 1966 as a trainee, and would always check our sailing results in the Sunday papers, Sandra continued by saying that he was one of the groups who went with them to Perth for the National Championship. This was also the honeymoon trip of Sandra and Les that was covered in one of my articles a year or so back.


As I said before, our Editor Bob Lindsay had a sense of humour and would include little stories to fill in spaces. In this issue one of his jokes read:-“ ‘I just can’t find a cause for your illness,’ the physician said, ‘to be perfectly frank, I think it’s due to drinking.”

‘In that case,’ declared the patient, ‘I’ll return when you’re sober.’ ”


Moving on to the Presentation Day issue of Up the River from May, 1994. I started off “the president’s pen” report with the following which always seems to be true especially the last part. “This day (Presentation Day) seems to arrive faster every year - a sure sign that we may be getting older but I prefer to think that it is because we have so much enjoyment from our sailing.”


At the end of my article, I covered the statistics for the season which had 32 races programmed but one was abandoned due to very gusty conditions. Only one skipper sailed in all 31 races and this was one of finishers in later years, and who sadly passed away in June 2023, Ron Swindells, in his Heron. We had an average of 51.8 boats start per race which was infinitely higher than what we have had in recent years. This was from 93 boats registered that season.


As our Presentation Day was one of our cruises down to the Harbour to Clifton Gardens, our Editor wrote a travel guide to keep us informed on the way down. If you ever travel down the River to Clifton Gardens you will now have a commentary about the journey. Even if you never make this trip, I think it is a great well researched and interesting story to cover in full. So here it is as written by Bob!




“AH YES! The Great Ferry Cruise and Presentation Day with a barbie at a unique little spot in Chowder Bay – what a day it has always been at Clifton Gardens. Since there is not a great more to do on the ferry but to enjoy this great harbour, I thought it may be of interest to point out just a few of the landmarks along the way …


… but just how did the Bay we’re setting out to become known as Chowder Bay? It has obvious American overtones I hear you say? Yes, you’re right, because over 150 years ago American whaling ships anchored here in the harbour and made ’clam chowder’ from the plentiful rock oysters which adorned the bays and shores of the Harbour. (How many oysters do you reckon you could find now?)


Now, back to the start at Gladesville Wharf and, as we set out and pass under the Gladesville Bridge take a look on the port side and you will notice Huntley’s Point. In 1814 a Mr A. H. Huntley purchased 19 acres there as an investment, built a house which was named Point House - so the suburb's name developed from there.


Look now to the starboard side and you’re gazing at Drummoyne – a Gaelic word meaning flat-topped ridge. In 1854 a William Wright built a mansion on the headland known as Wright’s Point and in front of this he built a private landing of stone with carved stone balustrades and steps – quite a striking landmark, isn’t it!


Now, just ahead you will see Cockatoo Island – known to the aboriginals as ‘Biloela’ – used to be a knoll of sandstone about 40 acres in area with a crown approximately 10 metres above sea level covered in shrubs and large red gum trees in which white cockatoos congregated. The island remained uninhabited until the prison establishment on Goat Island was closed and the prisoners moved to Cockatoo at the end of 1838. At that time the only prison in Sydney for colonially convicted offenders was at the corner of George and Essex Streets in the City. Prisoners sent to Cockatoo were the ‘hard cases’ awaiting transportation to Van Diemen’s Land or Norfolk Island. On September 11, 1863, an Australian-born bushranger, Frederick Ward, known as Thunderbolt, swam to freedom from the island and took to the bush in north-west NSW and lived there by robbery under arms until 1870 when he was shot dead by a police constable.


As we round Long Nose Point directly on the port side, ticked away behind Balls Head Bay is Gore Cove so named after William Gore who arrived in the Colony in 1806 and had been appointed Provost-Marshall at the age of 29. The first soldier settlers on the north side, in 1794, used to row across the harbour from Dawes Point to the head of Gore Cove and then had a rugged three kilometer climb up ‘the hill of difficulty’ to their farms which clustered around the present Crows Nest.


William Gore had a chequered career and, after a long and bitter feud with the Rum Corps who, after two trials, had Gore convicted in 1808 for ‘wilful and corrupt perjury’. Gore was sent to the Coal Rive at Newcastle and worked with convicts for a couple of years until he was reinstated by Governor Macquarie and as a gesture of goodwill was granted 150 acres where there now stand two television transmitting masts. Gore eventually gave way to the demon drink and neglected his duties by failing to account for public monies he had collected.

By 1843 Gore had accumulated 600 acres but ended up in the Debtors’ Prison and ‘being insolvent, desired to surrender his Estate for the benefit of his creditors’.

I have no doubt that the skipper of MV Royale will take us into Darling Harbour again for a look-see at the great transformation which has taken place in this area.


Way back in 1813 there were dozens of windmills on the ridge tops of Sydney to provide power for the grinding of grain. They were soon to be replaced by a steam driven mill built by John Dickson at the head of Cockle Bay and when the mill opened in 1815 it was capable of crushing 260 bushels a day compared with a windmill output of about twelve bushels.


In 1836 the first Gaslight Company was formed and the first gasworks built at the bottom of Kent Street – the first in Australia. Sydney was lit by gas in 1841. Two large gas holders were built and with large mountains of coal dumps remained in operation until 1922 when it moved to Mortdale.


For over 40 years from 1850 many wharves were built along the foreshores and it was the coastal trade which chiefly developed Darling Harbour bringing farm produce for the markets, and coal for the flourmills and coal for the gasworks. The opening of the Hawkesbury River rail bridge in 1880 provided direct rail link with the north and brought about the gradual decline of the coastal sea trade.


Now, coming out pf Darling Harbour, we will take Goat Island to port - a rocky knoll which rose some 35 metres above sea-level, was 13 acres in area covered with trees and shrubs. Known as Mel Mel by the Aborigines it sems probable that the three goats which were brought from Cape Town in the First Fleet were put ashore there to fend for themselves in a place from which they could not stray. In 1833 Governor Bourke moved the convicts from the hulk Phoenix (anchored in Darling Harbour) to Goat Island where they were put to work building a naval and military ordnance store, guardhouses and a wharf form rock quarried on the island.


To port again and we pass Blue’s Point derived from a real colourful character of old Sydney town, Billy Blue. A Jamaican-born negro sailor he was sentenced at the Kent Assizes in 1796 and given seven years transportation. About 1830 Billy Blue began a rowboat service with his two sons between Blue’s Point and Dawes Point - a distance of some 700 metres. A letter in the Sydney Gazette in 1833 read: ‘I intend putting up with the braggardism of Billy Blue no longer. Two very respectable ladies were bellowed about by this sweep because they hurried on to get out of reach of his tongue he made use of such language as must have shocked every modest person.’ He was dubbed ‘the Old Commodore’ by some, but scarcely lived up to his title.


A solitary stone pillar on Bradley’s Head marks the ‘measured mile’ - one nautical mile from Fort Denison and was used for testing the speed of all vessels launched in Sydney. This Doric column once formed part of the old George Street General Post Office and was placed in position in the 1870s. Having the aboriginal name of “Burrogy’, in 1841 it was decided by the military to turn Bradley’s Head into a fortress and a gun pit surrounded by a stone wall was built. Forgotten for 30 years it was decided to up-grade the ‘fort’ and three-gun pits, a powder magazine and stone gallery were constructed but we know Bradley’s Head by the fighting top of the HMAS Sydney proudly standing as a memorial to the gallant sailors of the ship which was sunk by the German cruiser Emden.


Well, I guess that will do because on the way home all you will want is to sit and doze.”


Some 29 years later we owe a big thank you to Bob for the great effort of his in researching and putting together this story of the history covering parts of our harbour where we travelled for so many years on our Presentation Days.


In this issue there was an article written by one of our members, Bern Leslie, one of our long time Cat sailors. This reminded all that winter was the time to do a little maintenance and checking of one’s boat etc. for the next season. This article followed on from a previous one he had written about keeping one’s boat in good condition for sailing. This new article fully covered your boat trailer by checking the tyres for wear and tear, greasing your wheels his comment on the latter said that wheels fall of boat trailers more frequently than you could imagine. Also you should checking the trailer lights and wiring, trailer suspension. He covered many other things in this article. I cannot print it all in this article here but maybe I will start of my next article with what he wrote, it is worthwhile reading and you may find things that you forgot to do.


All Class Captains wrote comprehensive reports on the efforts of their class members’ efforts over the season In one there was a comment that the winds in in the second half of the season had been light winds and many calms. This made racing close for quite a few weeks and the racing had been almost social on a few occasions I will finish this with a comment “them’s the breaks”!


Chris Loring, the then Spiral Class Captain, commented that much of the Autumn Point Score series was highlighted with the contest between two of the Spiral skippers. One of these had his handicap drop from 18 minutes to 12 minutes in a period of three weeks and he eventually came second in the series. This gentleman who until this season was seen most weeks at our Club in the second rescue boat – John Glasson.


This is all for this issue so until next issue.


Good Sailing!!!!

Ron Burwood