Family members of Michael Rush unveil the Rush trophy at the launch of the Michael Rush biography at the Clarence River Historical Society.
Family members of Michael Rush unveil the Rush trophy at the launch of the Michael Rush biography at the Clarence River Historical Society.

Champ was a river boy

IRISH green was the colour of the day as Stephen Gard launched his biographical tale entitled Michael Rush, Champion Australian Sculler.

The book takes an in-depth look at Michael Rush's journey from Ireland to the Clarence Valley, and the impact he had as a champion rower, and a person.

Stephen has an emotional connection to the journey, too, as not only is he a professional author, he is Michael Rush's great-grandson and this is his first self-publishing project.

"I grew up with my mum and grandmother telling stories of this amazing man so I wanted to look into him and his life further," Stephen said.

"He won a lot of races in his time, but he won a lot of hearts, too."

It was out of necessity that the now legendary rower became associated with the sport.

After emigrating from Ireland to Australia, and arriving on the banks of the Clarence, Michael first became a farm labourer, then assistant to a butcher, and later became a store-keeper.

He began rowing 'butcher boats' to deliver goods to customers along the river.

By 1869, Rush and his friend Prosper Coloun had often competed against each other in rowing races, and Rush had taken the title of 'Champion of the Clarence'.

In 1865, the 'two raw farm boys' as Rush described himself and Coloun, boldly took part in the Anniversary Regatta in Sydney.

The Rush Trophy was also unveiled at the book launch yesterday, which was something Stephen thought was a bit of a miracle.

"The trophy was given to Michael 130 years ago to the day," Stephen said.

"It was given to Michael in Grafton, where it stayed for a while, but then it went to Sydney with Michael.

"His daughter was walking down a street in Sydney one day and something caught her eye in a Pawn Shop window.

"It was the silver Rush Trophy, and she purchased the trophy and brought it back to Grafton where it stayed in the care of the family until today," he said.

The Rush Trophy can be viewed at the Grafton Historical Museum located at 190 Fitzroy St, Grafton.



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