How did the Queen of the Harbour originate?

In about the 1912’s it was decided by the menfolk that they would allow the “girls” to sail one day a year. So this small allowance became known as “Ladies Day”. As you can imagine it soon became the biggest event on the sailing calendar. So, J.J. Giltinan, the then Commodore, and a shrewd businessman decided that was a good way to raise money. Hence the event was renamed “The Queen of Port Jackson” in 1926.

The First Queen of Port Jackson Race

By October 1926 The Queen of Port Jackson was creating a great amount of interest. By then there was already had 10 guineas in prizes.

“On November 26th the drawing for the boats for the “girls” (as referred in the article). All candidates are requested to be present at 8 pm at the Cocoa Tree Cafe.

This is the list of boats, and potential queens in 1926:

Boats                    Competitors                                       Firms
Alert                     Miss E Kelly                                   Theo Kings
Avalon                   Miss E Stewart                                More Commercial Co
Arline                    Miss C Williamson                           Syd Taylor
Australia                Miss G Aikman                                 Harry West
Advance                Miss E Tonks                                    Wesley West
Britannia               Miss A Webber                                 Yellow Cab Co
Eclipse                  Miss A Bezette                                 Palmolive Soap Co
Florrie 11              Miss M Gourlie                                  J B Sharp
Furious                 Miss J Booth                                     W Gilkison
Gloria                   Miss G Gorham                                The Cocoa Tree Cafe
Hall Mark              Miss M Aikman                                 John Sands Ltd
Keriki                   Miss C Gallimore                               R Caston
Kismet                  Miss Barry                                       T W Brennan
Liberty                  Miss C McGlede                                McDowells Ltd
Life Saver             Miss R George                                  Wear Proof Hosiery
Mississipi              Miss D Hemill                                   Ald. A. E Laws
Mavis                   Miss D Murray                                   Seaman Bros
Mascotte               Miss G Jessops                                 Murdochs Ltd
N.S.W                   Miss G Merricks                              Davis Gelatine Co
Onda                    Miss A Bell                                     Broomsfields Ltd
Pastime                 Miss M Mahony                                The Castlereagh Embroidery Co
Rosetta                 Miss L Taite                                     Taites Millinery
Scot                      Miss I Hamill                                  J.W Lown
Yendys                  Miss E Clayton                                  Walter & Co

By Sept 1929 the “Queen of The Harbour Competition” became a happy way to raise money for the Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington. By then there were 100 candidates and were grouped and chosen by the highest number of votes. By that time there were 29 skiffs entering the race. On Saturday 20th of March, the Queen Habour Crowning Ball took place in Sydney Town Hall.

In 1929 Mark Foy presented the 23 young ladies gold brooches and the “Queen” won a car, an Austin “7” as a prize.

On Clark Island, as reported on the 22nd of February 1930: the huge flagpoles being fully draped with a fine show of bunting and adding to this is the young ladies gay colourings. 

The Queen of the Harbour continued to be a fundraiser throughout the 40’s and 50’s.

The”Miss Betty Payne” award (Water Board) was given for the best-dressed sailing lady.

The Queen of the Harbour lost its shine over the years and the last Crowing the Queen of the Harbour took place in Petersham Town Hall in 1962 as far can be established.