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History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club in Victoria Australia

History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club

1975 – New members and uniforms

Many of the early members of Begonia City Ladies had departed for employment and education in 1975 and the next intake of rowers began their rowing careers. Several of the new recruits who had started training in a Novice four in December 1974, were doing Year 12 or HSC in 1975 and so they raced early in the year and then not again until later in the year, at the start of the next season. The year’s rowing activities started with the Fourth Annual Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club Regatta was held on Sunday, February 2nd, and seems to have been a reasonable success although smaller than the first three regattas. Only 10 events were held and due to a problem with the weeds, it was held on part of the old mile course. The former Captain Jan (Madin) Falla helped liaise with the Ballarat City Council to get an alternative course for the regatta as This was to be the final Begonia City Ladies Regatta held.

 The committee elected for Begonia City for the 1975, elected at the September 20th,1974 Annual meeting were Captain Margaret Young; Vice-Captain, Mary Young and Mary Gallagher, secretary. President of the men’s club was Graeme Angow with Rob McGuire continuing as secretary, Alf Quick as treasurer and Danny Elliott as Captain. According to the minutes of Ballarat City Rowing Club 18/02/1975, President Graeme Angow reported that there was “no report on women’s rowing as they had been absent from the shed and he had not been able to contact them”. The elected representatives of Begonia City Ladies RC at the did not seem to be involved as they needed to be. President Graeme Angow moved to meet with the ladies and discuss improvements in communication between the two clubs. 

In February, Graeme Angow did meet with the BCLRC and they agreed to hold all meetings with the BCRC executive in attendance. They also agreed to holding meetings fortnightly during the rowing season. Graeme also raised the possible amalgamation of the two clubs at this time and after some discussion it was decided to continue as they were but revisit a merger next season. The only two sets of minutes that exist relate to this meeting, the first on February 26th and the second on March 12th .They were written in a new minute book and after these two entries, there were no others. It would seem that after these first two meetings no more were held or at least, they were not recorded. Unfortunately, while they list the apologies, the members present were not listed. Jan (Madin) Falla was an apology. She was still involved with the club but less involved than previously as she had recently been married. The names of the other members present that either moved or seconded motions were Margaret Young, Mary Young, Helen Young and Margaret Quinlan. Mary Gallagher was the secretary and the minutes are her handwriting. 

The competing members affiliated with the VLRA for Begonia City at the start of 1975 were Mary Young, Margaret Young, Karen Jones, Judy Trevena, Cheryl Brown, Margaret Quinlan, Helen Quinlan, Lucy Barber, and Mary Gallagher. Later in the year Anne-Maree Grace, Pauline Gallagher, Tracey Kriz and Kate Wise were affiliated. In correspondence with the VLRA, the club also made an application to have Vicki Marios, Maria Sutcliffe and Jenny Stapleton remain as novices as they had not won any races. Two of these members were married and one was working in Adelaide so it was doubtful if they would race again anyway. As it turned out they did not appear in any club crews again. The club did not have any crews racing before December at the end of 1974 as they did not have any settled crews. The first regatta any Begonia City crews competed in was at their own regatta in February,1975. This was followed by Barwon and Ballarat Regatta in March where the new recruits from late 1974 racing in a Novice four had their first starts at a regatta. There was possibly difficulty organising crews away to a regatta  and the main regattas were finished by the end of March. From April onward there seems to have been little or no rowing activity by the ladies. 

Copy of the original minutes 26th February, 1975. 

In General Business, President Graeme Angow first proposed the merger of Begonia City Ladies RC and Ballarat City Rowing Club. 

It was decided that the merger could be discussed further next season (ie 1975-76 season). Mr. Angow also moved a motion that the ladies meet fortnightly through the rowing season.

A second meeting was held on Wednesday, 12th of March with Graeme Angow again presiding. In General Business the club decided to order four more ladies oars from Jeff Sykes and to hold  an Easter Egg raffle in April.

There were no more meetings recorded or reported until the Annual Meeting in September.

Excerpt from VLRA newsletter “Ifs, Buts and Oars” regarding the weeds on Lake Wendouree! 

The Fourth Annual Begonia City Ladies regatta was held on Sunday, 2nd of February. The regatta had to be held on a section of the old mile course from St. Patrick’s Point back to the Ballarat City boatshed. The Amateur Canoe Association were using the 2000 meter course so it was decided to row on 500 meters of the old mile course. However there was a  problem with the weeds on both courses. The Council weed cutter had broken down and the smaller one bought in to replace it had not been able to keep up with the prolific weed growth. There was quite a bit a correspondence between the club and the Ballarat City Council to get the regatta up and running on the alternative course. According to Danny Elliott, because of the weed problem, the course they ended up using was from the Olympic start, parallel to the shore and back towards the boatsheds.

Fourth Annual Regatta, Sunday, February 2nd.

Cover for program Fourth annual Regatta. Program price in 1975-20 cents. It is worth noting that in the 1970’s all programs were printed and when you arrived at a regatta you had to buy one in order to see the draw-who you were racing and what time and lane. All programs had to be compiled by hand, typed up and then printed. They serve as a valuable archive of regattas in Victoria.

Timetable and first page of Fourth Regatta program showing the names of the crews and placings.

There were eight clubs competing at this regatta including the newly formed Barwon Ladies Rowing Club which had only been operating for three months and also Horsham Rowing Club. The other clubs were Essendon Ladies, Nestles, YWCA, Corio Bay Ladies and  Dimboola. The racing was over 500 meters starting with Maiden fours at 1.00pm and concluding with the Novice four final at 3.15pm. As a fund raiser, the club supplied Devonshire Tea at the boatshed for 40 cents! It is fortunate we have a copy of the Secretary’s program and many interesting details are recorded. Boats were still difficult to transport and so Begonia City loaned several boats to other crews when they were not racing in them. The number of competitors was reduced this year and some races were a row over due to scratching. Only the Novice and Maiden fours had heats, the rest were first and finals. There was a Schoolgirl four but no Open four.

The Begonia City Ladies were represented by a Maiden four of Judy Trevena, Mary Young, Marg Young and Karen Jones that placed third in their heat. The Novice four was Cheryl Brown, Helen Quinlan, Mary Gallagher and Margaret Quinlan placed second in their heat. Mary Renouf was in the racing Open Sculls race against Sue Creswell of Nestles RC. This was the first time women’s sculling had graced the waters of Lake Wendouree. Pam Westendorf, one of Australia’s, most outstanding women rowers of the 1980’s and 1990’s was competing for Dimboola Rowing Club in a Maiden four and a Schoolgirl four, both of which won.

Results sheet Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club, 4th Annual Regatta, February 1975

The next regatta attended by the club was Barwon Regatta on the Saturday 8th of March on the Labour Day long weekend followed by Ballarat Regatta on Monday the 10th. At Barwon Regatta, Begonia City Ladies had a new Novice crew racing for the first time. The crew of Kate Wise (bow), Anne-Maree Grace (2), Pauline Gallagher (3), Tracey Kriz (stroke) and coach Danny Elliott managed a creditable third place racing in their old wooden practice four. It was also one of the first outings for the new club trailer.

Kate (Wise) Elliott recalls the preparation leading up to the regatta:

“I remember in the lead up to the regatta we all had to go shopping together and buy maroon t-shirts and white football shorts. We also had to buy some white vinyl and hand sew the white stars onto our t-shirts. Everyone bought a thick pair of footy socks and some new dog collars to help strap our feet into the boat which had leather clogs about five sizes too big. I think usually we trained in just tracksuits pants or shorts and random t-shirts so this was the first time we were to wear the Begonia City uniform and it felt rather special.”

Ninety-fifth Annual BARWON REGATTA, 8th of March 1975. (Photographs Kate Elliott collection.)

Tracey Kriz, Michael Grace (cox) and Anne Maree Grace. Top right: Kate Wise and Anne-Maree Grace beside the Barwon River. Kate holding *dog collars and Anne-Maree has hers around her neck
Bottom left: Pauline Gallagher, Tracey Kriz and Anne Maree Grace rigging the four. Bottom right: Tracey Kriz, Anne Maree Grace, Michael Grace and Danny Elliott (coach) tying boats on the brand new Ballarat City Rowing Club trailer. 

NOTE: The boat we raced in which had a nearly flat bottom, old brass riggers with no adjustment and old leather clogs held together by leather laces. The clogs in the boat were huge and the girl’s feet small, they had to wear two pairs of footy socks and use dog collars to try and keep their feet from slipping out when they were rowing!

The entry for Ladies Novice Fours from the program for the GRA Barwon Regatta. This was their first race. ( The notations in handwriting were made by Kate (Wise) Elliott.

The Begonia City oars with white blades and maroon and white stars painted on the. Originally purchased in 1972

Original Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club t-shirt. Hand cut star and club number were cut out of vinyl and hand sewn onto the t-shirts. This is possibly the only surviving t-shirt of BCLRC. For racing, crews all wore t-shirts and white shorts, usually football shorts as they were the only white shorts available. Racing uniforms were all hand-made and rowers sourced their own racing gear and applied appropriate logos. (Note: this is the Kate (Wise) Elliott’s original t-shirt that she wore in this first race and every subsequent race for Begonia City)

Just two days later, at the Ballarat Regatta, the new Begonia City Novice four fronted up for their second race. The Ballarat Regatta program had two women’s races, a Novice four and an Open four.  The crew placed fourth out of four crews in a first and final of the Ladies Novice four. They had borrowed a newer tub four from St. Patrick’s College to race in, instead of the club boat they had used at Barwon Regatta in the hope that it would be more competitive. However, not being used to the boat and the oars it was rigged for, didn’t lead to any improvement in their position. The second Begonia City Ladies crew of Helen Quinlan, Mary Gallagher, Margaret Quinlan and Cheryl Brown was also entered in Novice fours. However they scratched from that race but did race later that evening in the Night Regatta. 

 Ladies’ Novice fours and Open fours entries from Ballarat Regatta program 10th March, 1975

Corio Bay won the Open fours at Ballarat with Leisa (Patterson) Wilson in 2 seat.

The Ballarat Rowing Association held a Night Regatta in March this year after Ballarat Regatta. This was a distinctly novel innovation that was held on the weekend of Ballarat Regatta for a couple of years in the mid-seventies. The course was from Macarthur Street jetty back to Ballarat City Rowing Club’s jetty. There were spotlights of some sort that illuminated part of the course but for the most part crews were literally “in the dark”. There were many startled swans and even the roughest crew looked strangely smooth and fast in the twilight. Many rowers who had raced at Ballarat regatta signed up for this unique event. Begonia City had two crews entered in the Women’s Invitation fours, the same two crews as raced earlier at Ballarat Regatta, with the No.1 crew coming second and the No.2 crew finishing third. The event was won by a Beaufort High School crew who had the benefit of training on their tiny lake in Beaufort. This was one of the very few times a Beaufort High School crew competed at a regatta in Ballarat. Beaufort High School would have been one of the very first High Schools to have girls rowing, along with Dimboola High School, they were the pioneers of schoolgirl rowing.

Kate (Wise) Elliott recalls that as a new rower, the thrill and excitement of racing in the dark!

“ I’m not sure the coxswains enjoyed it as the lights would have been shining directly in their eyes so steering was by feel rather than by sight. There also wasn’t much time to adjust steering as it was all over in a couple of minutes. They just had to line up pointing in the right direction and hope they got there. However they must have managed successfully, as I do recall a few near misses but no collisions. Some crews on the outside lane headed out towards the centre of the lake and then had an interesting time trying to get back to the sheds.”

The winter of 1975 was fairly quiet in terms of training and recruitment. Several of the newer members were completing their HSC (VCE) and consequently had little time to train. Several members of one or two years standing just drifted away. 

The Annual Meeting of Ballarat City Rowing Club on September 1975, there was again a combined election for the two clubs. Begonia City Ladies committee was now reduced to a Captain and a secretary. Tracey Kriz was elected Captain of Begonia City Ladies and Kate (Wise) Elliott, elected secretary. They had only been at the club for about 12 months but in that time had shown commitment and enthusiasm that the club needed to continue on. The numbers of competing members was again still quite small but they managed to attend several regattas and keep the Begonia City club alive. 

Mr. Ted Edwards retired from the BCRC this year having given over fifty-four years of unstinting service to the club. He was presented with an engraved tray and he retired to the Gold Coast were he could take a very well earned rest. "T. C.” as he was known was one of the last gentlemen of the old school. He had given so much time, energy and loyalty to the club it was hard to imagine the place without him. He had certainly been a key figure in assisting the Begonia City Ladies Club to find a base and then one of the prime movers in ensuring their ongoing association with Ballarat City Rowing Club. There is no doubt that if it had not been for his strong support, the women’s club would not have taken its place so quickly in the BCRC boatshed. 

Three long serving members of Ballarat City Rowing Club were awarded life membership of the club this year. They were Albie McGuire, Bob Angow and Ralph Murphy. Ralph Murphy was another Ballarat City Rowing Club member who had supported and assisted with coaching Begonia City Ladies crews. Unfortunately, the elected BCRC captain, Daryl Calvert, was unable to put in the time that the role required and many areas such as the coaching of novices and boating crews for regattas suffered as a consequence.

The Social Committee was operating successfully and catered at the Championship Regatta, Ballarat Regatta and the Twilight regatta. The Begonia City ladies and their families provided great assistance with catering for regattas. The money raised by these efforts went towards purchasing two second-hand tub fours. The club purchased three altogether and although long past their competitive best, they made the task of boating novice crews much easier. 

Cover, timetable and entries for Ladies Maiden four final, 95th Annual Barwon Regatta 1975.



1. Fourth Annual Begonia City Ladies Regatta 2nd February, Lake Wendouree.

Maiden four- Judy Trevena, Mary Young, Marg Young, Karen Jones-third in heat

 Novice four- Cheryl Brown, Helen Quinlan, Mary Gallagher, Margaret Quinlan-

 placed second (heat)

2. Geelong Rowing Association, Barwon Regatta, 8th March, Barwon River, Geelong.

Ladies Novice fours- Kate Wise (b), Anne-Maree Grace (2), Pauline Gallagher (3), Tracey Kriz (str)-placed third (heat).

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

Ladies Novice fours- No.1 crew-Kate Wise (bow), Anne-Maree Grace (2), Pauline Gallagher(3), Tracey Kriz (stroke)-placed fourth out of four crews.

No 2. Crew- Helen Quinlan, Mary Gallagher, Margaret Quinlan, Cheryl Brown.-scratched

4. Ballarat Milk Board Night Regatta, 10th March, Lake Wendouree.

Women’s Invitation fours- No.1 crew-Kate Wise (bow), Anne-Maree Grace (2), Pauline Gallagher (3), Tracey Kriz (stroke)-second

No 2. Crew- Helen Quinlan, Mary Gallagher, Margaret Quinlan, Cheryl Brown-third

VLRA Regatta Program for 1975. As can be seen there were very few races for Novice women at all. This is partly the reason there was so little racing for the Begonia City Novice girls as there were only two more Novice fours for the rest of the season, one race at YWCA Regatta on the 16th of March and one at Essendon Ladies Rowing Club Regatta on 16th of April. It was hardly worth the effort of loading the big club trailer with one boat. 

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