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History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club in Victoria Australia

History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club

1973 – Closer ties with Ballarat City Rowing Club

The first season of rowing and getting the club up and running had been hectic and exciting. They had formed a club, secured accommodation and equipment and signed up members. They had successes at regattas. Now the new club was ready to tackle their second season. The Committee for Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club elected at the Annual Meeting on the 6th of September 1972 for the 1972-73 season were:



SECRETARY: Denise Moroney

TREASURER: Kaye Rizzoli

CAPTAIN: Jan Madin

VICE-CAPTAIN: Delwyn Milne

As Associate members of Ballarat City Rowing Club, the progress and fortunes of the young club were now linked very strongly to the BCRC. While Begonia City was still held separate meetings, they still relied on the executive of BCRC for support and guidance. They also relied on the older club for equipment and coaching. The executive of Ballarat City Rowing Club this season was Ralph Murphy, President; Rob McGuire, secretary and Graeme Angow as Captain. The active membership of Begonia City was down a little this year, with twelve to sixteen members training and racing and eight social members. The club had two four-oared crews and a pair in regular training.

The first regatta attended by the Begonia City Ladies was probably Ballarat Regatta on March 10th,1973. Once again there were two women’s race on the program, the Ladies Invitation Open Fours and the Ladies Maiden four. In the Maiden four, Begonia City entered two crews as did Nestles Ladies Rowing Club. However the No.1 crew of Mary Young, Susan Bent, Susan Ratcliffe and Karen Sullivan scratched from the race and the No. 2 crew of Marg Young, Helen Young, Judy Trevena and Karen Jones placed second to the Nestles crew in the First and Final. The winning time was 4 minutes 51 seconds and the margin from first to second was 1 and ½ lengths.

Ladies’ Maiden fours entries
Invitation fours entries

Entries for the Ladies’ Maiden fours and the Invitation fours from John Morcom’s (Regatta Secretary) program, 10th of March, 1973. John Morcom was Ballarat Regatta secretary for over 30 years and his collection of programs is now held by Kate Elliott.

The Ladies Invitation Open four was a “test race” over 1000 meters for three Victorian crews selected for the National Championships. Kath (Suhr) Bennett and Maree Cox, who were both still extremely active in the administration of YWCA and the VLRA, were also competing for Victoria at a national level. As with most female rowers in the early days of the sport, they had to work, train and handle all the administration that came with running the sport. 

The Women’s National Championships were held on the Barwon River in Geelong. President Ralph Murphy took one or two Begonia City crews to the Championships, probably a Junior pair and/or Junior four. There is no record of this but BCRC club Captain at the time, Danny Elliott recalls that possibly Judy Trevena and Margaret Young may have been in the crews. They managed to place second or third in their race, which for a very inexperienced crew and very young club was quite an achievement. He remembers thinking at the time that if they had better training and coaching they would be capable of winning championship races. Therefore in the following years he undertook coaching and training Begonia City Ladies crews with that goal in mind.

Other regatta attended in this season were Horsham and Dimboola in November 1972 and Mildura, Rutherglen, Yarrawonga, Preston and Universities Regatta on the Yarra in early 1973. The Universities Regatta was held on July 14th and the club had the only win for the season. Judy Trevena and Margaret Young with coxswain Bryce Rayworth won the Maiden pairs easily. They were racing in the new Sykes tub pair which was christened “The City of Ballarat” at the club Open Day later in the year. Judy and Margaret also had a win in the pait at the start of the 1973-74 season at Preston Regatta in October 1973, winning the Maiden pairs easily.

Acquisition of the “City of Ballarat” tub/practice pair finally gave Begonia City and Ballarat City rowers a competitive boat in Novice and Maiden events. Previously crews had had to row in the old clinker pair, built probably in the 1950’s. The “City of Ballarat” had a long and successful life and was still being used at the club up until 2018. It was great for teaching novice rowers and because of the care that was taken of it and regular maintenance and revarnishing it was still in excellent condition. It was sold to the Daylesford Lake Café and is displayed hanging from their ceiling along with two of the original Begonia City Ladies oars which were purchased back in 1972.

Judy Trevena, Margaret Young, Bryce Raworth, Bill Davies, Paul Gursansky

Judy Trevena and Margaret Young with coxswain Bryce Raworth in the new City of Ballarat tub pair. Right :Bill Davies and Paul Gursansky in the new racing pair the “Thelma Angow”. Article from the Ballarat Courier, 1973.

City of Ballarat tub/open pair

The “City of Ballarat” tub/open pair that was bought in 1972.

It was used extensively by the club and maintained meticulously up until 2018. It was then sold to the Lake Café at Daylesford and is currently displayed hanging from the ceiling with two of the original Begonia City Ladies blades. Both boat and blades were made by Jeff Sykes of Geelong. The cost of the pair back in 1972, was $1000.

In April 1973 the two club’s held a Rowathon as a fundraiser. It was rowed in fours and the old club eight. All the members of Begonia City participated. It was also the first time that a mixed eight graced the waters of Lake Wendouree. 

timetable page 1 timetable page 2

The timetable and list of members participating in the 1973 Rowathon. Begonia City Ladies had 15 members listed and Ballarat City had 20 members listed.

Rowathon men

Rowathon men from left to right: Michael Salter, Danny Elliott, Paul Duggan, Daryl Calvert, Bill Davies, Denis Ciurcovitch, Kevin Antonio and Paul Gursansky.

cartoon of rowers

The cartoon was from Kim Butler’s collection and she named the bow character after herself, Kaye Rizzoli, Joy Rizzoli and Lois Schmidt are also mentioned.

The 98th Annual Meeting of the Ballarat City Rowing Club was held on the 14th of September at the boatshed. It was a combined Annual Meeting of the two clubs, with 30 men and 10 women present. The second Annual Report for Begonia City Ladies was included as a Captain’s Report in the Ballarat City Rowing Club’s Annual Report. The election of office bearers for Begonia City Ladies took place at a separate meeting a month later in October. No record of this meeting or the election results exists.

In November 1973 at the start of the 1973-74 season, a crew of Helen Young, Mary Young, Margaret Young and Judy Trevena and coached by Ralph Murphy raced at Dimboola and Horsham Regattas. They managed to place second in their heat at Dimboola but were well off the pace at Horsham the next day.

newspaper article

Article from Ballarat Courier, November 1973 reporting on Begonia City Ladies crew at Dimboola and Horsham Regatta.

Second Annual Report - September 14th, 1973

1973 annual report page 1
1973 annual report page 2
1973 annual report page 3

Third Annual Regatta - November 4th, 1973

The third annual Begonia City Ladies Regatta was held in conjunction with Ballarat City Rowing Club’s Open Day, on the 4th of November 1973.  Over one hundred members, family and friends once again participated. Following the racing, three new boats were christened. The racing four ordered last season was christened the “ALBIE MCGUIRE”, the tub pair the “CITY OF BALLARAT” and the racing pair the “DARYL BROWN”. Daryl Brown, was Ballarat City RC’s first Australian champion along with pairs partner Alan Dixon when they won the Australian Champion Lightweight pair in 1966 on Lake Wendouree. Daryl was tragically killed in a car accident in 1969. These boats certainly assisted the club to become more competitive and to cater for more members. 

two events at rowing club newspaper article

Article from the Courier, Ballarat, 9th of November, 1973

The new practice or tub pair was christened “The City of Ballarat” due to the wonderful support and assistance that had been given to Begonia City Ladies by the Mayor and Mayoress of Ballarat. They assisted with fundraising events and contributed a considerable amount to the purchase of the boat. Both the women’s and men’s crews were very happy to have a much lighter, more competitive pair than the old clinker pair from the 1950’s!

The “Albie McGuire” was a brand new Sykes racing four and was named for club stalwart Albie McGuire. Albie was in the army in New Guinea and when he returned he joined the club and had considerable success as a rower. He also became boat repairer and handyman extraordinaire and tireless worker on committee. It was very fitting to name the four after him.

Begonia City Ladies Third Annual regatta had six women’s clubs competing-Essendon, Lakeside from South Australia, Nestles, YWCA and Corio Bay. There were eleven events all held over 500 metres starting with the Champion Junior pair first and final at 11.30. There was a break at 2.00 pm for the Opening of the season and the christening of boats and then concluding at 3.00pm with the schoolgirl pair final. Begonia City was represented in the Champion Junior pair by the crew of Mary Young and Judy Trevena. They raced in the new “City of Ballarat” practice pair placing third in the event behind winners from Nestles who represented by Pat (Oddie) Gabb, who had now moved to Warrnambool, and K. McDonald.

There were two crews entered in the Maiden four, the number 1 crew of Karen Jones, Marg Young, Mary Young and Judy Trevena who placed second to Corio Bay in the heat and Jeanette Reynolds, Susan Bent, Susan Ratcliffe and Jennifer Andean, were the number two crew who placed fourth in their heat. This same crew was entered in Open fours but scratched from that event. Interesting to note that Mary Renouf was rowing in schoolgirl events for Corio Bay and Leisa Patterson (later Wilson), aged just fourteen, was rowing a Novice pair for Corio Bay. Leisa’s pair won the first and final of the Novice pairs from a second Corio Bay crew. Leisa and Mary were both of the start of their illustrious rowing careers and both would become Victorian and Australian Champions within a few years. Both of these rowers also went on to represent Australia at World Championships, Mary in Bled, Yugoslavia in 1979 and Leisa at Lake Barrington, Australia in 1990.

regatta program cover
timetable in program

The cover and Timetable page is from a copy of the third regatta program which survived. It was the Regatta Secretary’s copy, so all the wins and placings are recorded. It is lucky that these early programs survive and add great detail to the early women’s regattas about clubs that were competing, classes of racing and names of so many early women rowers in Victoria.

1973 Regattas and Racing

1. Ballarat Regatta, March 10th, Lake Wendouree.

Ladies Maiden four:-Marg Young, Helen Young, Judy Trevena, Karen Jones-second

- Mary Young, Susan Bent, Susan Ratcliffe, Karen Sullivan-scratched

2. Preston Regatta, October, Lake Edwardes.

Ladies Maiden pair:-Judy Trevena, Margaret Young-first

3. Universities Regatta, July 14th, Yarra River.

Ladies Maiden pair:-Judy Trevena, Margaret Young-first

4. Begonia City Ladies Regatta, November 4th, Lake Wendouree.

Champion Junior pair:-Margaret Young, Judy Trevena-third

Ladies Maiden four:-No.1 -Karen Jones, Marg Young, Mary Young, Judy Trevena-second

No.2-Jeanette Reynolds, Susan Bent, Susan Ratcliffe, Jennifer Andean-unplaced

Ladies Open four:-Jeanette Reynolds, Susan Bent, Susan Ratcliffe, Jennifer Andean- Scratched did not race.

5. Dimboola Regatta, November, Wimmera River

Maiden four:-Margaret Young, Mary Young, Helen Young and Judy Trevena-second (heat).

6. Horsham Regatta, November, Wimmera River

Maiden four:-Margaret Young, Mary Young, Helen Young and Judy Trevena-unplaced.

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