Bonza: The State Library of South Australia

Three students pictured in 1890 identified as ‘The Three Rs’ i.e. left to right they are Rowdy, Rowing and Reading. SLSA B-69996-50.

4 November 2019

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch finds an online archive that is worth a Captain Cook.

The State Library of South Australia, the SLSA, is located in the South Australia’s state capital Adelaide. While this is not an unreasonable place for SA’s official state library to be, and it does make it convenient for the 1,350,000 Adelaideans, it is of little use to anyone else (including most Australians). Fortunately, Australia now has the Internet and the good librarians at the SLSA have made much of their holdings available online – including their large photographic archive. HTBS Types will not be surprised that I typed ‘rowing’ into the search facility and found many splendid images. A random selection of pictures that are in the public domain is shown here but many more can be viewed on the SLSA website.

A few of the results of searching for ‘rowing’ in the SLSA online photographic archive.
Members of the Commercial Rowing Club displaying the Smith Challenge Shield for winning the Champion Eight-Oar Race on the Port Adelaide River, 23 February 1894. SLAS B-62070.
Port Adelaide Rowing Club, winners of the Junior Eights at Port Adelaide Regatta, 2 January 1905. SLSA SRG-873-1-4.
The Adelaide Rowing Club, 1914. SLSA PRG 280/1/10/194.
Possibly the 1920 Interstate Women’s Fours Championship winners, South Australia (represented by a Mannum Rowing Club). SLSA B-47422.
Unknown South Australian crew, 1911. SLSA PRG-280-1-3-72.
Unknown crew on the Port River, Adelaide, 1912. SLSA PRG-280-1-8-419.
Adelaide Rowing Club Ball, 1909. SLSA PRG-280-1-8-424.
Four women rowing, possibly on the Torrens River, Adelaide, 1910. The flag is the Royal Banner of Scotland, officially restricted to use by representatives of the Monarch and at royal residences. SLSA PRG-280-1-6-429.
Regatta on the River Torrens, Adelaide, c.1885. SLSA B43073.
Torrens Lake, Adelaide, 1912. The centre figure in the small boat is the Rev Canon Girdlestone, then President of the Adelaide Rowing Club. SLSA PRG 280/1.
Boat christenings at Adelaide, 1909. SLSA PRG-778-23-1-8.
Members of the Adelaide Rowing Club who enlisted for active service in the 1914 – 1918 War. SLSA SRG-32-5-66.
A South Australian women’s rowing four racing in Victoria, 1920. SLSA PRG-280-1-21-62.
The Australian winners of the Men’s Coxed Fours at the 1938 British Empire Games, held in Sydney. SLSA SRG-873-1-30.
The President of the Murray Bridge Rowing Club presenting a trophy to the winner of the dinghy race for men over seventeen stone on Opening Day, 1937. SLSA SRG-873-1-455.


  1. I love the idea of a rowing event for men over 17 stone! Perhaps we should reinstate such a top heavy event mainly for retired, still hungry ex-lightweights😂
    Leo Gibson

  2. The Photo showing the christening of two inrigger racing fours as late as 1909 is a fantastic piece of history!
    In Europe the last of this kind vanished before 1900 (Netherlands and Belgium). In the most countries nearly 20 years before.

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