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History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club in Victoria Australia

History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club

Brief chronology of the formation of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club


Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club was inaugurated in August 1971 and became an Associate division of Ballarat City Rowing Club at the BCRC Annual General Meeting in 1972, retaining the Begonia City name and separate officers. The club operated for seven years as a separate women’s division then amalgamated with the men’s club September at the Annual General Meeting 1978. From 1979 women competed as Ballarat City Rowing Club. This history will cover the first seven years of the club and the transition year when women became full members of Ballarat City Rowing Club.

FEBRUARY, 25th - Letter to the Editor from “Discontented Shore bound Girls” published in the Ballarat Courier. This appears to be the impetus for getting women rowing in Ballarat. Ballarat High School had offered rowing in their sports curriculum for girls this year but then reneged saying they did not have sufficient resources.

MARCH - Several responses to the letter including one from Denise Widmer, a Ballarat girl who was a student and rowing at Melbourne University supporting the push to get a women’s club up and running. Several supportive letters from male rowers also.

AUGUST - first moves to start women’s rowing in Ballarat. Pat Oddie and Denise Widmer advertised and ran a “Come and Try” day in a boat loaned by Ballarat Rowing Club. About 13 girls attended. Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club formed as a result of this. Glenda Sheers appointed organising secretary for interim.

SEPTEMBER - Establishment of first women’s rowing club in Ballarat.

September 19th -The Victorian Ladies Rowing Association publicity and recruitment officer, Kath (Suhr) Bennett, came to Ballarat and ran a workshop from the Ballarat Rowing Club. Interested girls also went down to the Yarra River and participated in training day with members of the Victorian Ladies Rowing Association.

Begonia City Ladies Rowing Cub find a temporary “home” at Wendouree Rowing Club training three mornings a week at 6am-7am. 16 members training. Fundraising efforts to buy their own boat they held car washes at a local garage for two weekends.

Ballarat City Rowing Club,96th AGM 24th September. Frank Findlay elected president.

OCTOBER – First competition as Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club at women’s regatta. First Ballarat schoolgirl rowers compete at a regatta.

October 9th - Competed in first regatta at Lake Edwards in Preston and using borrowed boats Two schoolgirl pairs and two novice pairs competing with second and third in two races.

First meeting of the new club with 24 members formally signing up. 

Election of first committee. Organising secretary, Glenda Sheers elected President. Letter sent to all three men’s rowing clubs looking for support. At the Ballarat City Rowing Club meeting on October 12th the letter was discussed and it was agreed to meet with Begonia City Ladies and discuss assistance. Meeting with three men’s clubs held in late October.

NOVEMBER 9th - Ballarat City Rowing Club committee discussed assisting Begonia City Ladies and sent an invitation to join them for Open Day.

NOVEMBER 14th - Special Meeting of Ballarat City Rowing Club committee held to discuss hosting Begonia City Ladies RC. Norm Angow and Ted Edwards moved that an offer to train from the Ballarat City shed from 5pm Monday to Friday be made. This arrangement was to be reviewed in January 1972. 

Begonia City Ladies competed in Trade Fours Regatta hosted by Ballarat Rowing Association. Three crews from newly formed Begonia City Ladies RC competed in an invitation event. The winning crew was Irene Hatt, Liz McGrath, Sue Barret and Jan Madin

DECEMBER - first combined Open Day of Begonia City Ladies RC and Ballarat City Rowing Club including first mixed races held on Lake Wendouree.

December 5th - Begonia City attended Ballarat City Rowing Club’s Open Day and participated in their first mixed races. Over 100 members present at this first joint event. Denise Moroney and Irene Hatt of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club in winning combination four.

Attended Wendouree Rowing Club’s Open Day competing in combination fours.

Attended YWCA Regatta, Albert Park Lake.


JANUARY 1st - Attended Yarrawonga Regatta racing in Open fours.

FEBRUARY - First women’s regatta held on Lake Wendouree. 

February 6th - First Annual Begonia City Ladies Regatta on Lake Wendouree. 

The regatta was held on the old “mile course” starting over near St. Pat’s Point and finishing just adjacent to the jetty of the Ballarat City Rowing Club. Begonia City Ladies won their first races in Novice fours and pairs.

MARCH - First Ballarat Regatta to include women’s event in 110 years of annual regattas.

First time Ballarat women raced at a Ballarat Regatta.

APRIL - Fundraiser at Town hall used to purchase women’s oars

AUGUST - Notice of Motion at Ballarat City Rowing Club committee meeting to make Begonia City Ladies and Associate division of Ballarat City Rowing Club. 

SEPTEMBER 6th - First Annual Meeting of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club and presentation of first Annual Report.

SEPTEMBER 15th - At the Ballarat City Rowing Club Annual General Meeting, Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club was formally constituted as an Associate division of Ballarat City Rowing Club.

OCTOBER - Election of second committee Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club.

Competed in Trade’s Fours regatta hosted by Ballarat Rowing Association. Three BCLRC crews competed against each other with Pam John, Carolyn John, Irene Hatt and Jan Madin the successful crew.

NOVEMBER - Sunday 26th of November, Second Annual Regatta held with over 100 oarswomen competing from eight clubs. Two of the clubs travelled from South Australia for the regatta.

DECEMBER 3rd - Ballarat City Rowing Club Open Day. Over 100 members and friends of both clubs attended. BCRC and BCLRC combined for a fundraising Dinner Dance and to celebrate the wiping of the State Government loan that had been taken out in 1956 to rebuild the boatshed for the Olympic Games.


MARCH 10th - Ballarat Regatta . Two Begonia City Ladies crews in Ladies Maiden fours

18th March - Women’s Regatta BCLRC won Novice fours

Quarterly meeting Ballarat City Rowing Club attended by Associate members

APRIL - Rowathon joint fund raiser with Begonia City and Ballarat City taking part.

Ladies Novice four entered for Mildura/Wentworth Regattas

MAY - National Championships Regatta, Barwon River, Geelong. First female Ballarat rowers to attend National Championships.

JULY 14th - Begonia City Ladies won a Maiden pair at Preston Regatta on Lake Edwardes in Melbourne.

SEPTEMBER - Combined Annual Meeting 14th September. Captain Jan Madin’s report included in BCRC Annual report.

Ballarat City Rowing Club moved the motion that the officer bearers of the Associate division be President, Secretary, Treasurer, Captain and Vice-Captain.

OCTOBER - Election of Office bearers for Begonia City Ladies season 1973-74-not recorded.

NOVEMBER - Third Annual Regatta, 4th of November and combined Open Day and boat christening

Begonia City Ladies Maiden four competed at Horsham and Dimboola Regattas.


FEBRUARY - Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club competed at Warrnambool Regatta. Won Maiden pair

MARCH - Ballarat Regatta 11th March had two races for women. Begonia City was represented in both races with a Novice four and a Maiden four.

Second Rowathon fundraiser held.

SEPTEMBER - 99th Annual General Meeting of Ballarat City Rowing Club and Begonia City Rowing Club. Elections of office bearers for both clubs held at AGM. Office-bearers for Begonia City Ladies Captain, Vice-Captain and Secretary.

NOVEMBER - Open Day with racing in Scratch fours and Mixed fours followed by christening of boat trailer and new racing four

DECEMBER - five new members nominate.


FEBRUARY - Fourth Annual Begonia City Ladies Regatta.

Ballarat City Rowing Club President, Graeme Angow, reported that Begonia City Ladies had been “absent” and he had not been able to contact. Met with officers of BCLRC and proposed a possible merger of the two clubs. Decided to remain as Begonia City and discuss it further next year. Only surviving minutes on record are of this meeting.

MARCH - Begonia City Ladies to hold monthly meetings with executive of Ballarat City Rowing Club in attendance.

Attended Barwon Regatta 8th March

Attended Ballarat Regatta 10th March

SEPTEMBER 2nd - 100th Annual General meeting Ballarat City Rowing Club and Begonia City Ladies. New Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club executive elected at this meeting. Two positions now operating Secretary and Captain. 

OCTOBER 26th - Open Day Scratch fours and mixed fours

DECEMBER 3rd - Quarterly meeting Ballarat City Rowing Club. First meeting attended by new secretary and Captain.


MARCH - Ballarat Regatta. Begonia City Ladies successful in Senior B four.

SEPTEMBER - 101st Annual Meeting of Ballarat City Rowing Club and Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club. New Captain and Secretary elected for Begonia City.

NOVEMBER - Open Day and boat christening

Begonia City Ladies raced at Horsham/Dimboola Regattas

DECEMBER - Raced at VRA Centenary Regatta December 4th

Raced at Nestles Regatta December 12th

Raced at VRA Regatta December 11th


FEBRUARY - Raced at VLRA Championships, 28th February, Maribynong River, Footscray.

MARCH - Raced at Ballarat Regatta 13th March-Begonia City Ladies win Senior B four

Raced at VRA Victorian Championships 14th March, Lake Wendouree-

Ladies Champion Youth Four (Under 19)

Raced at Scotch Mercantile Regatta,19th March Ladies Youth four

MAY - National Championships Perth. Ralph Murphy Women’s selector for Victorian team.

JUNE - Christening of two boats the “Norm Angow” tub pair and the “Thelma Angow” racing pair. The “Norm Angow” was used by Begonia City Ladies Senior B pairs.

SEPTEMBER - 102nd Annual Meeting of Ballarat City Rowing Club and Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club. New members elected to position of Captain, Vice-Captain and Secretary.

OCTOBER - Raced at Corio Bay Ladies Regatta, 22nd October.

Affiliations for VLRA only four members affiliated. Cost $2 per member.

NOVEMBER - Raced at Artemis Ladies Regatta, 5th November

Raced at Dimboola/Horsham Regatta, 19th/20th November


FEBRUARY - Raced at Barwon Regatta, 25th of February. First BCLRC member to race in an eight-oared race, rowing in a composite eight with Artemis Ladies Rowing Club.

MARCH - Raced at VRA Championship Regatta, Senior B four

APRIL - First female coaches for Head of the Lake crews from Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club.

AUGUST - First Begonia City Ladies sculler competes. Mixed scull relay Winter sculling, Barwon River, Geelong.

SEPTEMBER 19th - Special Meeting followed by Annual General Meeting. Amalgamation of Ballarat City Rowing Club and Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club

OCTOBER - Last races as Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club-

VRA Regatta, 1st October. First entry in sculling race, Ladies Senior B scull

Raced at Essendon Ladies Regatta, Ladies Senior B Scull

Raced at Metropolitan Regatta 14th October, Ladies Senior A scull

NOVEMBER - first races as Ballarat City Rowing Club

DECEMBER - first Victorian Championship won by Ballarat City Rowing Club women.

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