Fairfield Canoe Club
2019 Centenary Year

FCC Earthmovers



Question: What does a barrow hold?

Answer: The making of a club!

Perusal of the FCC records reveals that many, many cubic metres (yards even) of materials have been shifted within and from without 9 The Esplanade. A veritable mountain of earth moving with the trusty wheelbarrow.

Right from the earliest diggings of our first clubhouse in Feb 1926, the wheelbarrow has been ever present. Club members excavated by hand for eight months on weekly working-bees before any foundations could be laid.

Feb.1926 Excavating site. (FCC archives)

In 1927 it is reported in the Heidelberg Advertiser that:” several loads of ashes are desired for the tracks, and then the storage sheds will be ready for the canoes to be housed therein.” There is no guessing how these “ashes” will have been transported!

Reports of ongoing ‘barrow work’ appears again after the demolition of the old clubhouse and excavations for the new. As the late Joe Alia described: “Club members came here and dug holes. We hired a back-hoe to dig this out. The amount of dirt that we dug out was too dear to get carted away, so 'cos we couldn't afford to get it removed, we kept on spreading it, and spreading it, and spreading it”, all by wheelbarrow. However, the barrow endeavours do not end here.

Having excavated the foundations, the A-frame was raised, but Foster Rossetto reports that after building the concrete reinforcement wall at the front (where the cars are now parked):

“there was a huge gap which needed clean fill to put in there. That was pretty hard to find so I asked around where I was working and this girl said, "We are just digging this swimming pool, can we give you our dirt?" So, I said "Sure", and two trucks came up and dumped it. Alan Northey helped a bit but basically, I barrowed it. Took me a week. I was here every day doing it and shovelled more than 20 cubic metres of soil so we could fill the front, which is now our car park.”

Fast-forward to 1996 and the extension of the landing-ramp under the direction of Alex James who recalls: “Yeah, we had all the usual suspects, Bass Wakim, Johnny Golino and Michael Loftus-Hills, Tony Payne, Steve Beitz, Kel McMeeken, Kev Hannington, Neil Grierson, Wayne Cook, all cutting corrugated iron form-work and bolting steelwork down and wheel-barrowing cement from the front yard down to the back. That's a fair job in itself.  Just barrow after barrow.”



1996 Landing extension barrow-work. (Photos Steve Beitz)


The trusty wheelbarrow makes its appearance regularly at every working-bee and most recently was once again sighted ‘shifting dirt’ from the Esplanade down the block. This time 1/2 a cubic metre of toppings was barrowed down the drive to make a new path to obliquely joining the main path down to the river.

2023 Working-bee extension of pathways (Photo Rowan Doyle). -->

“All hail the trusty wheelbarrow” and its ever present, stalwart ‘FCC-engine’!

Year unknown. The omnipresent Tony Payne, Joe Alia and Llew Morgan together with their favourite friend, the wheelbarrow, front of stage. (Photo Michael Loftus-Hills)


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