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News > Old Boy News > Viking Voyagers

Viking Voyagers

19 Nov 2021
Old Boy News



Featured Image (L-R): Frazer Spencer (1978), Ian Smith (TSS 1977), David Toohey (GT 1977), Jon Lindsay (Cambridge), Murray Stewart (Scots 1982), Greg Coglan (Brisbane 1984), Peter Chandler (1974), David Counsell (BGS 1983), Ian Matheson (TGS), Harlod Hope (1976), Mike Partridge (past Churchie staff), Toby Ford (1977), Bill Chatterton (1973), Bim Struss (1975), Gus Blackwood (BGS), Chris Hinton (BGS).

In June 2015 we featured an article about a group of Old Boys who through the camaraderie of an association to the ‘blue and grey’, formed Vikings Rowing. Their motto, Fortier Remiga Vive Bene, means Row Hard Live Long and their recent voyage to the outback demonstrates that is exactly what they are continuing to do. With regional members who come to the city to row when they can, it was time to take the boats to the bush with a quirky plan to row on six rivers. So, in line with Churchie’s current crop of schoolboy rowers, 18 men (not all Churchie Old Boys) recently donned their royal blue shirts and bright orange hats to venture west on their intrepid voyage, which has never been done before anywhere in Australia.

As well as the Thomson River in Longreach, they traversed the Condamine River at the Chinchilla Weir, a private dam in the Maranoa River catchment, Barcaldine's new artesian waterpark and Fairbairn Dam in the Nogoa River catchment. The Dawson River Weir at Taroom was their last before stopping into Dalby to watch the Melbourne Cup on their way home.

With their first six rivers now successfully coxswained, the focus is already on deciding which six rivers will be on next year’s voyage.

Please click here to read more about their voyage.

Be sure to also read the below poem, written by Tour Convenor Toby Ford.

 I am sitting in my clinic on a busy Brisbane Street,

and my mind begins to wander to our recent Viking trip.

Like every sporting legend, it must always have a quest,

so, we took our black Vespolis to 6 rivers in the west.

Now you know about McDougall and how he topped the score,

and the Geebung Polo players who had gone before.

But in modern times when COVID nearly took us all,

we took our West End, Brisbane townies and we went and had a ball.

We crossed the Great Divide and Griff cooked brekky at his pub,

The convoy headed west and the scorer marked down “one”

when we rowed the Condamine and Fraser’s boat, they won.

Soon the trailer hub was heating and from Muzza I shall quote,

‘The brake drum’s come a gutsa but no Viking’s going back.’

So we called in Churchie old boys who live out along this track,

And pretty soon we had it fixed – the Vikings rallied back!

Across the Downs to Mitchell in drizzling rain we went,

’til we reached the Maranoa where an ancient grudge was vent.

Now it’s 50 years in making, in an early 70s race,

that the College boy named Crichton tells this famous case.

‘We were neck’a’neck us fellas, with Big Bim Struss’s blue and grey,

and we beat em’ by a bow ball in the chase.’

So Big Bim lives near Mitchell and every time they meet,

the legend now has grown to over fifty feet!

But such is rowing tragedy, when later on we heard,

Old Mike from Wales he tells his tale of learning how he’s coped.

He rowed before our sovereign Queen, the Welshman in their eights,

the bowman broke his racing oar and jumped out for his mates.

No one knows who won this race, but something that’s for sure

The Queen remembers our Mike’s boat, this legend lives much more.

Now at the pub in Morven, we were pleasantly surprised,

to be privately invited to a lake not far from there,

Amongst wild swans and local mermaids,

we paddled up this course and I think that Dickie’s boat it came in first.

But we had a laugh and shared a beer for Bim got his revenge,

For we gave the cocky Crichton bloke a scull and he fell in.

We made it to the Tambo pub, we had to have a beer.

Then Guy our shy retiring vet, he leads us to a cheer.

‘My father managed country here, he liked to race the nag,

 he walked his winning horse in here and shouted all the pub.’

 And so, the Vikings made his dad life member of our Club.

And as the afternoon wore on, we reached the Gidgee scrub,

And there we stopped to rest our men in Counsell’s shearing shed,

DC and brother Scott are sporting men and gave us all a thrill,

and taught us how to shoot some clay and how they run their sheep.

A bore-filled bath, we slowed our path and watched the fading day.

The moon it rose, the stars shone bright,

we pondered at the sky while Sheryl spoke about her school,

and the future for her mob.

We couldn’t hope for better hands to hasten up this job.

Then off to bed, a rum-drenched head, big Jon he heaved a sigh,

Authentic bush, amazing sights the tourists, they can’t buy.

With swags laid out, the breeze so soft, all grateful we’d left town.

PS Be sure to bring some dunny paper if next year you come,

seems they had a COVID run on it, on this Barcoo run!

At early dawn the townsfolk slept, Before it got to hot,

we hastened to the Barcy Lake, the first to row this spot.

With Robbie Chandler’s helping hand we made a promo shot.

He rolled his moleskins to the knee, his brother Poonch was there,

We are not quite sure what happened next Greg Coglan broke an oar

But if you chance to visit west be sure to check this quick,

the word is out and all about, Rob’s muscles broke that stick!

The solar farm that Hilly owned was next stop on our trip,

we learned of future greening trends and hydrogen’s the tip,

The day grew hot we felt our skin, it burned beneath the sun.

 We finally made the Thomson reach to take our longest run.

Some people say Ringrose had rowed and Kennedy had not,

Williams was a wiser man, said tennis was his lot,

Dickie steered our champion crew straight along the river course,

A bow-ball beat the other boat,

I wonder what they’ll say. In 50 years we won’t be here,

it might be 50 feet!

Some lads dropped into Wellshot for a drink;

Please refer to photo and tell me what you think,

I suspect other things transpired on this trip back,

ask Fraser how a few things dropped off and I didn’t hear of that!

At John and Josey Chandler’s place, we spread our swags for night,

but not before Muzz got bogged – a rookie job we heard.

And Angus learned to crack a whip and whistle up a bird,

We spoke of drought, wild dogs are out

and bores are capped once more.

With Matho’s Dad the drover and Hinton’s Banjo over,

we won’t forget the icing on this night.

’Twas the Lebanese’s recital of the operation vital,

when his haemorrhoids were banded as a youth!

Now the next day 2-way chatter,

was contained by Iggys patter,

as he told us what we could and couldn’t say.

We had Candolini, Silver Ghost, Toe Cutter, Whiner and Goose One,

the jibes were quick the humour thick, we were travelling all as one.

We belted to Nagoa, where Fraser’s boat was slower,

so, we quickly packed our boats and headed off.

But it was noted by this scribe

that we’d recrossed the Great Divide and the scorer marked off “five”.

As the sun was slowly falling the Wagner boys were calling,

are you fellas really coming to Taroom?

When we reached the Dawson River,

my heart it jumped a beat.

Excited for the six rivers would be done.

With Wagners Tom and Brian, who were strong and difficult to teach,

we paddled up and down the Dawson Reach.

In the dark with cars lights shining, we packed our trailer up,

 and had a round of beers. Then Muzza spun some dirt,

and in his haste the Leb got chaste and Chatto called ‘Full Beirut.’

At the Cattle Camp Motel in the wee hours of the morn,

at least a hundred fines were read out loud.

With laughter and good banter, Harold asked if we were safe

and the Vikings spoke of all our fun on our inaugural ride

Be sure to ask Guy and Iggy why they slept outside.

We made it back to Griffo’s pub and watched the Melbourne Cup,

It didn’t seem as big for us as rowing in the west.

For we rowed six mighty rivers, well including dams and lakes,

and our message to the public goes like this:

If you’re sitting in an office on some busy Brisbane Street,

and all you hear are sirens, trains and jets,

you must fold away your seriousness and head out to the west,

for the people of the bush, we learnt, see life at its best.

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