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Sailing on Sydney Harbour for the Centennial Regatta,1888

March 14th, 2013 by


This year, 2013, marks the Centenary of the foundation of Canberra, Australia’s capital. A busy calendar of events has been planned to celebrate this milestone in Australia’s history. This photograph depicts an event from an earlier Centennial, before Federation, when the country was still a collection of self governing colonies.

The Centennial Regatta was one of many sporting and social activities organised to mark the Centenary of European settlement in Australia. The Regatta was held on 27 January 1888 and comprised both sailing and sculling races. The Illustrated Sydney News on Wednesday 22 February 1888 describes the event in glowing terms.

The weather was admirable, and the attendance enormous. The wind was extremely favour- able to the full display of the capabilities of the innumerable harbour craft, and the aquatic result was worth witnessing.

The ‘extremely favour- able’ wind was apparently very lively as the article continued..

With the flocks of white-winged sailing boats, which, like seagulls, clove the face of the water, capsizing was one of the most common events of the day ; but the crafts were, in every case, soon righted, and again set merrily skimming along ; for our amateur nautical lads are like ducks, and are hardy and venturous as Norse sailors.

The 1888 Centenary was not without controversy with some states feeling that New South Wales did not represent their history. Not to mention that the views of the Indigenous population were not considered. Nonetheless it was event that helped bring the colonies together leading eventually to the Federation of Australia and the founding of a new national capital.

Post by Lynne McNairn, Digital Services

Photography: Henry King, 1888 (85/1285-176)
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