In 1858 Samuel Brownlow, publican at the Northcote Arms Hotel organised a pigeon shooting contest at his hotel. Held on the 10 April of that year, the attendance was poor, however the Argus Newspaper praised the quality of the refreshments and predicted better results ahead.
“….liberal and hospitable board spread by the worthy Sam… was so well conducted and so satisfactory that the success of future efforts were assured.”
Pigeon shooting was a popular colonial past time, with the usual method of hunting involving releasing a number of pigeons and awarding the prize to the shooter with the most kills. On this particular occasion C. W. Lewis won with seven pigeons.
Other hotels soon joined in with George Plant at the Peacock Inn Hotel organising a shoot from his paddock at the base of Ruckers Hill in September 1865. A few months later Goyder at the Red House Inn (later Croxton Park Hotel) arranged a pigeon shoot of his own.
In September 1866 the Metropolitan Pigeon Shooting Club, organised by George Plant, was established. On 27 October 1866 they held the Grand Colonial Sweepstakes with a prize pool of £40.
There was a strong motivation from the publicans to hold sporting events such as these. The population of Northcote was still small and it was difficult to sustain several hotels based purely on the population. Sporting events could often attract 500 to 2,000 people, a significant number considering the population of Northcote barely topped 1,000 at the time.
Argus [Melbourne], Newspaper, Melbourne 1848 – 1957.
Edge, Gary (2004). Surviving the six o’clock swill: a history of Darebin’s hotels. Melbourne: Darebin Libraries.
Membrey, Brian (2003)? The pubs, the parks and the Rose. Unpublished manuscript.