Letter 6 ~ The Boathouse

The Burn family established the first boathouse on the Yarra River in 1863 and hired out boats, later also making rowboats and canoes.  The business was referred to as ‘Burn’s boathouse’ or ‘Riversdale’ .

The area became a popular spot for rowing and the Boathouse had its own rowing club, with members being some of the most skilled in the country. It was the starting point for the famous Head of the River race; a rowing race between Melbourne's elite private schools.

The popularity of the recreational activities led to many other boathouses being built nearby. It was considered a hub for social gatherings, romantic getaways, and sporting events.

The Studley Park Boathouse became a popular recreation spot and was frequented by famous personalities like John Wren and Dame Nellie-Melba.

In 1934, the river burst its banks and Melbourne experienced severe flooding that washed away the Riversdale Boathouse and many of the facilities in Studley Park, including the original Kanes Bridge, built in 1920, and boathouses upstream. 

Today, the Studley Park Boathouse has been restored and stands as the oldest public boathouse on the Yarra River. It is a popular destination for locals and tourists with stunning views, delicious food, and rich history.


Sources for images and further reading