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Despite its comparatively small town population, and the distances to be travelled to attend sports meetings, all parts of Manaro have never ceased to vie with one another in friendly trials of skill and strength, in those games and outdoor recreations, which are ever calling to the Australian youth.


The first record of an organised horse race meeting is gained from the issue to Joseph Ward, on 25th February, 1855, of a publican's booth license, for races to be held at Tea Tree Flat on 20th., 21st., and 22nd March, the license being operative from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m. Another meeting was held at the same place on 26th. and 27th. October of the same year. In June, 1856, booth licenses for races were granted to Joseph Ward and James Hain, publicans of Cooma, and Alexander Walker Davidson, of Reid's Flat (now Bunyan), and the two first named secured licenses for a meeting on 17th, 18th and 19th March, 1857, and another meeting on Boxing Day.

Later, races were conducted on Cooma Creek, the finishing post being somewhere near where the Co-operative Mill was afterwards erected. These are the premises that, until recently, were used by Messrs. Ruddin and Co. as Freezing Works.

The first authentic race programme it has been possible to discover is printed on a single sheet of paper, and is headed, "Beresford Picnic Races, 1867." It comprises six events, and a perusal of it indicates the bottom of the horses belonging to the pioneers. The Maiden Plate, The Ladies' Purse, and The Beaten Stakes, were each run over a mile and a half course; The Bachelor's Bag was two miles, with 11Ist. up; in the big race, The Picnic Cup, horses were asked to run three miles carrying w.f.a. to win a prize of £IO/10/0, whilst the Hack Race was run in mile heats, also w.f.a. The name "Beresford" was probably adopted from the fact that Cooma is within the county of Beresford. On 15th August, 1871, an area of 320 acres was dedicated as a recreation reserve, and on this racing has since been conducted. The body controlling the sport has seen many ups and downs, but is now in a flourishing condition. It has had quite a number of changes of title, and in 1895 was known as the Manaro Jockey Club. In 1896 it became the Cooma Racing Club.

The ground on which the meetings are held is about two miles out of town. Its appointments are good, and it has a well laid out course. The present secretary is Mr. J. C. Martin who, over thirty years back, was a vice-president of the club and a successful horse owner. Names that occur as intimately associated with racing and the Cooma Race Club are Messrs. J. H. Montague, Rolfe, Kaufline, Delaney, Eccleston, Woodcroft, Brooks, Cosgrove, and Harnett. The Club not infrequently holds meetings for the benefit of the Cooma Hospital.


The Cooma Billiard Club started in 1903 with one table, erected in the reading room of the School of Arts. It assisted in 1904 in building the billiard room attached to that institution, and in March, 1905, acquired a second table. The growing popularity of the Club brought about an extension of the billiard room, and the acquisition of a third table in April, 1908. In November. 1913, the club moved with the School of Arts to a large, well-appointed building in Vale Street.

Four tables constantly in use yielded a good revenue, and at the present time the annual average income is £425.

E. J. Geogeghan has been in the service of the club as caretaker and marker since 26th September 1904.

Billiard championships are held annually, and the winners of these from their inception are:-

1906: J. J. Gaughan,                         1907;G. Levy, 
1908-'12-'13-'14-'16-'19; L. Shannon,  1909; J. C. Bottornley, 
1910; F. W. Harris,                           1911; J. A. Roddan, 
1915; T. W. McRae,                          1920-'22; H. H. Solomon, 
1923-'25; D. Trevanion.

The Presidents of the Club since its inception have been 
G. W. Ord, 1903-1910-'11; 
J. A. Perkins, 1910-'11-1922-'24;
A. F. Rose, 1924-'25 still in office.

The Cooma Billiard Club is a very flourishing institution, and a decided asset to the town


Cricket was evidently played seriously on Manaro in the fifties, for in 1861, a record is extant of a match, played at Cooma, between Cooma and Kiandra, the latter proving victorious. Matches were hard to obtain, but in 1862 and the immediately following years, took place between Cooma, and Bombala and Delegate, as also Queanbeyan. Later, as population and settlement increased, clubs were formed, and facilities for match playing were greater. The game has retained its popularity, and in the present day clubs there are many enthusiasts.


Though not claiming so many active adherents as other games, polo has always loomed large in the sporting history of Manaro. The Cooma Polo Club was formed in September, 1892, Mr. C. Hudson being secretary, and the initial membership 21, representing players from every quarter of the district. The club's first match was played at Goulburn in January, 1893, when a victory was recorded. Since then the Cooma team has achieved great things. Its annual gymkhana is looked forward to by residents in many parts of the State as a social function and enjoyable carnival, and is always well attended. The Cooma team is the holder of many cups, won in open competition with the best teams in the State, and has reached the pinnacle of polo fame by being enrolled amongst the holders of the Lady Dudley Cup.


Cooma is unrivalled in Australia as a centre from which the ubiquitous car can carry one to a stream for a few hours fishing. Nearby are reaches of the Murrumbidgee, providing excellent sport when in favourable condition. Less fickle are the waters of the Umeralla, whilst the higher reaches of its tributaries, the Big Badga, Kybean, and Kydra are nearly always "in ply."

The still pools of these streams, skirted with weeds harbouring abundant fish food, hold rainbow trout that when caught have scaled over ten pounds. The Tuross and McDonald have an equal reputation in this respect.

Further away, but within easy approach, are the superb Snowy and its tributaries, the Thredbo, Mowamba, and Kosciusko streamlets; but one must not forget the delightful Eucumbene and the Upper 'Bidgee, near Adaminaby.

The wisdom of stocking suitable streams with trout has been amply confirmed. Information supplied by the State Fisheries Department shows that the first brown trout (Salmo fario) were introduced in 1888; Rainbow trout (S. Irideus) in 1894. The latter has flourished by natural reproduction and artificial stocking; the Department's annual output increasing from 10,400 fry in 1916 to 19,400 in 1920, and from 76,700 in 1921 to 164,244 in 1925.

It was in 1888 Mr. Reuben Rose, of Boloco Station, Buckley's Crossing (now Dalgety), realised the suitability of the pure and fast running waters of the Snowy River as a habitat for trout. Through the instrumentality of Mr. Henry Dawson, one time representative for Cooma in the State Parliament, he obtained a quantity of fry from the Fisheries Department, and with the assistance of Mr. Amos Crisp liberated them in that river, and from the fact of fish of fair size and weight later being taken from the stream, it was concluded that the experiment was successful. Amongst those who were keenly interested in the trial was Mr. F. Blaxland, of Cooma. In 1892, consequent upon the results achieved in the Snowy River, Mr. Blaxland obtained a supply of trout fry for the 'Murrumbidgee. He did not move further in the matter till 1899, when through Mr. G. T. C. Miller, M. P., a consignment of fry was obtained and liberated by him at the Murrumbidgee Weir. Further stocks were set free in 1900, 1901, and 1902. In April, 1902, a Rainbow trout weighing 2lbs. 2ozs. was secured from the Murrumbidgee. In the same month a Brown Spotted trout, 2 1/4 lbs. in weight, was taken from the same river. In the meantime numerous reports of catches of fair sized fish in the Snowy River had been received, and it became evident, not only that the fish were strongly established in these streams, but that the waters and conditions were in all respects suited to them. Later liberations were made in the Murrumbidgee River at Mittagang, and its upper reaches, at Rosedale, and in the Badga and Tuross Rivers by Messrs. Heyland, Murphy, Cansdell, and others.

Mr. Adam Agnew was the first to set trout free in the Umeralla River. In 1892 250 young trout were liberated by the Hon. A. Ryrie in the Murrumbidgee at Micalago,

Subsequently numerous residents interested themselves in seeing that the rivers were adequately stocked every season, and the Government having established a hatchery at The Creel, there is little likelihood of the trout being allowed to die out in the Manaro streams.

The Cooma district, as a result of the efforts of the pioneer fishermen before named, possesses six hundred miles of the finest fishing waters. The Brown trout, though not augumented by artificially hatched fry to any considerable extent, have in the Snowy and some of its tributaries taken remarkable hold and have proved a welcome and valuable food fish and attractive to the angler, being less capricious than his American rival, and averaging better weight.

The more skilled the angler, the less does he worry about a large assortment of flies, contenting himself with two or three of the "palmer" type, used either floating or wet. Those who wish a more extensive menu should include the coch-y-bonddu, hop hopper hackle, heckam peckam, march brown, coachman, governor, Hoffland's fancy, etc, whilst for the evening rise a small black spinner and ginger quill are recommended. Others may be added according to one's fancy and experience, but it should always be remembered that it is the angler's skill and knowledge, rather than the fly, that counts in taking the "odd trick."

Equipped with a light split cane rod, tapered line, and light reel, one may wade out and cast the magic wand day after day in glorious sunshine and in light hearted enjoyment of one's sport.

In addition to trout, the Murrumbidgee contains native cod and perch, excellent table fish, and affording some degree of sport if angled for with spoons or ground bait.


Cooma has always had a number of enthusiastic gun shots, and it is not surprising to learn that a gun club has been in existence for many years. It was in about 1901 that steps were taken which brought a club into existence, under the presidency of Mr. P. D. Murphy. Though there have been lenghened periods of suspended operations, the club is to-day a very active body. It holds successful shoots, both of live and clay birds. The President is Mr. A. F. Rose, himself an excellent shot. The Cooma Club has ranked amongst its members Messrs. J. Clarke, George Crisp, Harry Rose, A. F. Rose, W. McAlister, B. Silk, and E. W. Smart, all of whom have at the traps in Sydney more than held their own in competition with the State's best shots, and have brought back to Manaro many trophies and cups as evidence of their powers.


For many years Cooma has had its tennis club, which in competition with clubs from neighboring towns, discovered a number of good players. At the present time the game is tremendously popular. The Cooma Club has three fine courts, as also has the ",Royal Club,--- which is possibly the more active of the two. Private courts are numerous, and many matches take place each week end.


In 1902 the Cooma Debating Society was an exceedingly energetic body. One of the direct results of its existence was the establishment in August, 1902, of the Cooma Rifle Club. The first officers were, President: Mr. P. D. Murphy; secretary, Mr. E. W. Evans; Treasurer, Mr. C. J. Hain. The latter held office until 1923. The captains of the club from time to time until the war have been:- 
1905-1907, 1913, J. A. Feilen; 
1907 - 1909, H. H. Mowbray; 
1909, E. H. Quodling; 
1912, E. Scarlett; 
1914, A. Fallick.

During the war the club went into recess, a number of its members, including R. Goodwin, K. Goodwin, F. Gunning, M. Connell, Lieut. R. C. D. Garnock, P. Jarvis, Lieut. Col. F. D. W. Oatley, A. L. Ryall, and T. Warren, having been accepted for service overseas. Of those named R. Goodwin, F. D. W. Oatley, and L. Ryall, gave their lives in answer to the nation's call.

R. Williams was captain in 1918, but in 1920 the club was reformed under the captaincy of Mr. J. A. Norris, who has from that year until the present capably controlled its activities. The club has held two big and successful open shoots, at which substantial prizes were given. Many good marksmen first learnt to find the "bull" on the Cooma Range, which is situated within a mile of the centre of the town. Some of Coomas marksmen have regularly written their names on the prize lists of the N.R.A. meetings. Amongst them are W. McArthur, J. Goodwin, E. W. Priddle, F. Gunning, A. Fallick, H. H. Thurston, and though last, not by any means least, Miss Jessie Snodgrass, now of Queensland, and perhaps the best lady shot in the Commonwealth.


This pastime has fascinated many of the residents. Mr. E. Dykes, an old bowler, with some like-minded enthusiasts in 1920 - determined upon the formation of a bowling club. A meeting was called, and definite action arrived at, for the consummation of the objective. It was at first sought to have a green laid down in the Town Park, but reconsideration brought the determination to purchase a block of land. A suitable site was obtained, and in 1921 a limited liability company was floated with a membership which meant success. An excellent green with six rinks was formed, and since its opening has been the scene of many interesting contests. The members of the club take part in Country Week and the South Coast District Competitions, and, in addition to visiting several centres, have had visits from Berry and Goulburn teams. The Club Championship is an event which always arouses much excitement, and the winners from the inception have been:- 
1922-'23: M. O'Connor; 
1923-'24; Rev. C. Anderson; 
1924-'25: J. H. Rogan. C. Anderson; 
1924-'25: J. H. Rogan.

Mr. G. F. Antill, the President of the Club, has taken the keenest interest in its welfare, and with the enthusiasm evinced in the past, and existing at present, the future of bowls in the district and of the continued success of Cooma Bowling Club, Limited, seems definitely assured.


Has many enthusiastic supporters and players. The Cooma Golf Club was formed about twenty-two years ago, and interesting links laid out by Carnegie Clark along and across the Cooma Creek. The Club flourished from the start, and has been for a number of years the owner of a well-appointed club house. The club's representatives, gentlemen and associates, have more than held their own in matches abroad, and have creditable records of performances in Country Week. Amongst the players the name of "Crisp" stands out as a remarkable! golfing family.


Football has ever had a good hold on the youth of Manaro. The game played until 1924 was Rugby Union, but in the year named, the League game was adopted.

"BACK TO COOMA" Felix Mitchell 1926 Page 108 - Transcribed by Pattrick Mould 2003

Photo supplied by Anthony Burges [ajburges-at-ozemail.com.au] 10.05.12


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