In its heyday around 1900, Croki was a thriving village.1
Croki Regatta, an annual event, was a great drawcard. Some people paraded in their finest while others looked upon it simply as an excuse to let off steam. Boat races and competitive swimming featured, while a range of entertainment was provided on dry land. The more sedate could listen to the bands or take part in dancing or the guessing competitions while the boisterous element might be attracted to the Tug o’ War or Climbing the Greasy Pole. Refreshment stalls provided food and drink or one could always repair to the Victoria Hotel.
Wagers were evidently commonplace. At the 1904 regatta, a race between Geo Lee and Geo Hayward was declared a “no race” as neither seemed anxious to win.2 The 1923 Regatta was overshadowed by two tragedies.
On Regatta Day, an alcohol fuelled melee broke out in the vicinity of the Victoria Hotel, culminating in the death of Frederick Smith. William Oscar Ryan was convicted of manslaughter, but escaped a custodial sentence.3 Earlier in December, while practising for the Regatta, 22 year old Thomas Alfred Jobson was drowned when his skiff was swamped in choppy water. He was unable to swim.4
Interest waned in the 1930s, but the Regattas were revived in the 1950s.5
Author: Penny Teerman
1 The Australian Handbook of 1887 (reproduced in The Jones Island Story compiled by Dallas Gill 1998)
2 Manning River Times, Saturday 31 December 1904 Pg 4
3 The Northern Champion, Wednesday 26 March 1924 Pg 4
4 The Northern Champion, Wednesday 12 December 1923 Pg 2
5 The Jones Island Story compiled by Dallas Gill 1998