You may have heard stories of the recluse and retired policeman, Mud Bishop, who made his home at the entrance of the Manning River at Old Bar from 1923 until his death in 1944.1 But have you heard of his amazing place in Australian Sporting History?
Wallace James ‘Mud’ Bishop was born in 1878 in the Manning Valley.2 His family moved to Balmain, Sydney where he took up swimming. Between 1898 and 1900 he became the State and Australian Swimming Champion for 100 yards (91.4 metres). His greatest sporting achievement was when he won the 100 yards Championship at the Commonwealth Celebration Gala at Cockatoo Dock in 1902 establishing the world record of 61 seconds.3
Bishop’s close rival, Dick Cavill, was at this time developing a new swimming stroke. In 1900 in the Sans Souci baths, Cavill and Bishop were swimming in the same heat for the 100 yards Championship when Bishop narrowly beat Cavill. It was customary for the second fastest competitor in the heats to be allowed to swim in the final. Unfortunately, on this occasion the officials had forgotten to print this rule so they asked Bishop if he would agree to Cavill competing. Bishop strongly objected saying ‘No, not me; I’m not going to let him get all over me with that crawling stroke of his!’. The volume and manner with which he spoke these words caused the crowd to burst into laughter. Cavill was so amused he adopted the term for his stroke the ‘Australian Crawl’.4
Author: Janine Roberts
Sponsored by the Old Bar Manning Point Business & Community Association through a Royal Australian Historical Society NSW Cultural Grant.
1 Sun, 14 August 1944, 8
2 NSW BDM birth index No. 15893/1878
3 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 18 August 1944, 4
4 Sun, 31 October 1913, 12
5 Sun, 27 March 1940, 19