Regattas on Lake Macquarie
The Lakefest Aquatic Week is an annual event held on Lake Macquarie. A number of events occur during the week long celebrations which run from February 17 - 26. The event is a collaborative effort involving the Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto, Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, Wangi Amateur Sailing Club, Belmont 16's and Toronto Rotary Sunrise. Included in the line up is the Heaven Can Wait Charity Sailing Regatta organised and run by the Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto.
Regattas have a long tradition on Lake Macquarie. At the turn of the 20th century Lake Macquarie Park (now Speers Point Park) was the most popular spot on Lake Macquarie and around Newcastle. It was referred to as the 'lungs' of the mining townships of Wallsend, Plattsburg, West Wallsend and Mimi. Camping was permitted, and it was a common site to see the shores dotted with tents. A fresh water spring was located near the jetty, supplying the needs of the campers and visitors.
As the road improved crowds arrived in horse drawn buses and drays for the Sailing and Sculling Regattas held each year on Anniversary Day, 26th January, the first having been held with Mr Spiers' permission in January 1880. At this time there were even horse races held in the Park. All traffic entering the Park had to pass through Mr Spiers' sliprails, now the site of Lake Macquarie Council Administration Building. In 1904 the Annual Regatta saw 10,000 people and hundreds of horses and vehicles in the Park, pointing to the need for additional land. Shortly after this an additional area was added to the Park. In 1905 there were complaints of horses swimming in the baths and of pigs roaring around the Park. However, horses and cattle were allowed to graze, horses at 7c per head and cattle at 5c per head.
Poem about the regattas held at Speers Point Park
Published in the Wallsend & Plattsburg Sun 24/1/1891
Photograph from our collection: Horse drawn omnibus which often took picnic parties from Newcastle to Speers Point
As the twenty-sixth - that's Monday first
Both man and beast will seem to burst,
In trying who shall be the first
To have the pick of places.
You.see vehicles there of every kind,
Crammed full inside, and some behind,
With old and young of every kind,
For to enjoy the races.
You'll see each one on lake or land,
When taking up their daily stand,
Both old and young - yes, everyone -
Will all have smiling faces.
For the next comers they do not care,
As they too long did tarry;
That being the case got second place
That day at Lake Macquarie.
Now, if the weather does prove fine,
There's very few will stay behind,
Except invalids - lame or blind,
While a vehicle them will carry:
And, in trying who shall reach there first,
The horses they will fare the worst -
Loaded with passengers and dust -
All bound for Lake Macquarie.
And let it be fairly understood.,
From here to there the road is good,
And travel there, whoever should,
They'll find few rutty places.
As the Wallsend Council took good care
All needful places to repair,
In case of capsize anywhere,
From here unto the races.
If I but only knew the name
Of boat or man that's in the game,
I willingly would disclose the same,
With title of their places.
For the committee they have worked right well,
As Monday's gathering it will tell,
At Macquarie's shores they're bound to swell
With thousands at the races.
So here's long live their annual day,
Their regatta too in every way,
Till everyone is made to say
At home they will not tarry;
But go and see the great contest,
Which boat or man they count the best,
And help to cheer among the rest,
That day at Lake Macquarie.
This work by Lake Macquarie City Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License