The Club was started by a group of recreational enthusiasts in 1956 with Tom Clancy’s Boatshed as its headquarters. Tom Clancy crafted planked and ribbed canvas covered canoes with cane seats woven at the Blind Institute. The leasehold at 209 Witton Road was transferred to the Club in the early sixties.
The original shed was of corrugated iron with an earth floor and with racks to accommodate the dozen or so canoes of members, many of them of them manufactured by Clancy & Nash. Water and power were not connected and meetings were held by lamplight. Also there were 4 moorings between the pontoon and the creek mouth.
Not many members owned, or had the use of cars so ‘away’ trips were special events. A storage rack from the shed was tied to the back of a hired flat top truck. The boats were tied to the rack, all gear and participants were relegated to what space remained. The trips were on the upper river somewhere between Somerset Dam and Mt Crosby. It was not unusual for fire arms to be taken. The traditional Easter Trip was to Johnson’s Rock, just downstream of Colleges Crossing. Members paddled the 40km+ with all their gear often starting with the first of the incoming tide late on Thursday night.
Weekend activities consisted of local paddling – riding the wash of the Lone Pine tourist launches to Mandalay for mud fights and soft drinks from the kiosk/Saturday night dance venue Sunday picnics to as far away as Pullen Creek biathlons of swimming and running to and from the old ferry ramp (one member once swam home from Mandaly) – and working bees around the shed.
There were canoe races at the Australia Day Regatta at Coronation Drive on. Members paddled there, raced, and paddled home. Members assisted at the annual RACQ Children’s Day Picnic at Sandgate, an event run in conjunction with the Vintage Car Club for disadvantaged children. The Club’s role was to paddle canoe loads of excited children round the wading pond. Imagine the insurance nightmare such an activity would present to-day.
A new shed was constructed in the late 60s but, with $38 still to pay on the building loan, it was washed away in the 74 flood. The porcelain pedestal, standing proud on the new concrete slab was all that remained. Previous and subsequent floods have not been so devastating. Boats and equipment were always removed when it became apparent that significant flooding would occur.
With the appearance of fibre glass technology the profile of the Club and indeed the sport of canoeing changed. Most members made the transition to kayaks and I think it would be fair to say that few current members canoe paddling skills. The club accommodates well over 100 kayaks of various styles in 2 boatsheds. Most of the boats are privately owned by members but there is 1 canoe and a selection of kayaks, both touring and racing which the club has purchased over the years often with the assistance of the State Government.
The Queensland Amateur Canoe Federation (Now QCI) was started in 1962 by Garry Gardner (inaugural secretary of ICC, and Sallyanne Vidgen (who is a life member and active competitor and office bearer), and the rest is history. The first affiliate was ICC followed by Townsville and later, Wynnum.
While many members do their own thing, as canoeists are wont to do, some have achieved highly in the international competitive scene in both sprints and marathon. Our first Olympian was Gordon Jeffery in 1964. Our first World Champions were Denise Cooper and Gayle Mayes (also Olympians LK4 1992) in LK2 in the first World Marathon Championships in 1988, while Robert Edgar and Chris Barnett in K2 were bronze medallists. Paul Caffyn in 1982 was the first paddler to circumnavigate Australia. This year Erin O’Keeffe, Dave Provan and Kellie Schlecht will represent Australia in The World Marathon Championships and a group of Junior sprinters were successful at the New Zealand Sprint Championships. Many club members participate in local, state and national events in sprint and marathon, and train regularly to do so others indulge themselves in sea kayaking and river touring a few paddle and sail outriggers.
During the last couple of years the Club has become involved with Bushcare and plans, with the assistance and guidance of Habitat Brisbane, to remove feral plants and trees from our site and replace them with indigenous varieties.
Regular come and try sessions are held to introduce new comers to our sport. Also members conduct canoeing activities for Brisbane City Council initiated and sponsored GOLD, Chill Out, Gold ‘n Kids and Raw programmes.
Granny Sal – member since 1957