HENLEY ON LAKE WALLACE
The running of the first Henley on Lake Wallace occurred on Saturday , 5th February 1921. ( source – the Horsham Times – 11/02/1921.) The idea for the event was first mooted by Mr W C D Veale , Shire Engineer.
A large crowd attended and the sum of 150 pounds raised. The proceeds were used to erect a Soldiers Memorial which was officially opened by Senator Elliot on 28th August 1922, as a tribute to the soldiers who fought in World War One. An avenue of trees running from the memorial to the foreshore was planted the same year.
The funds raised from the 1922 event were used to erect new ladies and gentlemen’s dressing sheds.
In 1923 the proceeds helped erect a new pier, the next year new booths were erected and in 1925 a new water chute and diving board were added.
The annual event continued on until 1929, but ceased to operate from 1930 to 1936. It is expected that the depression was the main reason .
In 1936 a meeting was convened by the Edenhope Race Club in an attempt to revive the event and a successful event took place in 1937.
In 1938 a bout of infantile paralysis occurred and the event was cancelled.
Over the next 13 years the carnival occurred only spasmodically ( possibly because of the advent of World War Two ) but in 1952 it was again revived under the leadership of Mr Orme Bird and his committee.
During the past 60 years the focus of Henley on Lake Wallace has changed. The adaptations have been the result of changes in society and the environment. There has been the decreasing of our population and increased litigation worries.
The “ Big Dry “ which has meant a drying up of the waterways , therefore traditional water regatta events were put on hold.
Four life memberships have been awarded to extremely worthy recipients –
- Frank Sagasser
- Wallace Hateley
- Jim McDougall
- James West.
Until recently Jazza West has assisted with the PA during the procession and for some events in the afternoon at the foreshore.
Some of the highlights which happened over the past 60 years have included : –
- In 1960 it was reported in the newspaper that the Henley regatta attracted 8000 people.
- The Australian Women’s Weekly rolling pin competition has been well supported and has run annually during for the past 60 years. The original board and hessian face appear annually . Over many years Dennis “ Squashy “ Payne has carted out the traditional rolling pin case with the varying size of home made rolling pins. Women of many ages compete . Squashy adds to the atmosphere with his local knowledge and quick wit – Tim O’Donnell has-filled in recently.
- In 1962 the Australian Mud Wrestling Competition commenced . It proved very popular and became an annual event. AFL footballers Ronnie Andrews and Peter “Crackers “ Keenan made an appearance.
- Events that were extremely popular amongst young men were the Kowree Keg Championship, stubby drinking competition and the iron gut competition
- The birdman competition was entertaining when the entrants tried to “ fly “ off the end of the pier.
- Drag boat racing was popular.
- Over the years Henley has many colourful characters including Doug Hawkins as King of Henley, Humphrey B Bear , the Gigarats , the Tellie Tubbies , Sammy the Seagull, Fat CAT and the Carlton United Clydesdale horses.
- The Henley Committee has tried to reintroduce some competitive games with Mystery Games .
- The floats that are entered into the annual procession have been priceless. From the artistic floral arrangements of Kevin Summerhayes to the politically incorrect entrants of the Connie Tennis Club, the Ullswater Dragon , Planet of the Apes and the Devils Playground, the controversial introduction of the wide shearing combs and fairy grass .
Many generations of families continue to be proud supporters of the Henley procession and although the number of floats may have decreased in recent years, there are still those families which religiously make a contribution to the annual event.
The source of most of the above information was obtained from reports published in The Horsham Times newspapers and compiled by Geoff Langsworth for the Edenhope and District Historical Society and the Henley on Lake Wallace Committee.
Anyone who may wish to contribute further to above details, please contact Geoff Langsworth home phone 0355851795 , mobile 0409551911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Check our video gallery to view the lake full of water and being used for windsurfing. If you have an interesting video let us know if we can show it on the site.