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History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club in Victoria Australia

History of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club

1980’s - Onward and Upward

In the 1980’s women’s rowing really “came of age” in Ballarat and indeed Australia wide. There was competition and success at state, national and international level. Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club had laid the foundation for women to get involved in sport and when they amalgamated and became Ballarat City Rowing Club, they lead the way in women’s rowing in Ballarat. They forged a pathway for success. If not for these pioneering women that overcame all obstacles to establish the club women’s rowing would have developed at a much slower pace. They opened the way for hundreds of female rowers from schoolgirl to Masters to participate in and pursue their dreams in the sport of rowing. It had taken 100 years but they defied the establishment and the entrenched male dominated clubs. This allowed those who followed to reach the very pinnacle of the sport with Olympic Games representation and medals. It would take another 20 years for this to happen but the success of women’s rowing in Ballarat owes much to the efforts of Begonia City Ladies Rowing Club. They were the scaffold on which women’s rowing in Ballarat was built. 

With a women’s membership averaging only 12 women, the Ballarat City women punched well above their weight in the 1980’s. They dominated womens’ sculling in Victoria at every level schoolgirl through to Senior. Ballarat City had the first schoolgirl sculler competing for Ballarat High School with Sonya Adrians. Kate Elliott went on to win 9 Victorian Championships in lightweight, elite and Senior A sculls. In 1986 Wendy Spicer and Liz Sliwa won the club’s first Australian Championship at Westlakes in Adelaide. The women’s side of the club were also successful in winning four Victorian premierships winning the VRA Women’s Champion Club and Women’s Champion Junior Club in 1983-84. We won the Champion club 14 points clear of Melbourne University ladies and the Junior Championship by 17 points from Corio Bay Ladies RC. All this with just nine competing members. We also won the Women’s Champion Club again in 1984-85.Then in 1986-87 the club took out the Champion Club of Victoria with a staggering 94 wins and with 24 competing members. Eight of the competing members were women! 

Kate (Wise) Elliott, selected to represent Victoria for the Nell Slatter Interstate sculling Championship 1984, Lake Barrington

Kate (Wise) Elliott’s Victorian team badge. 

VRA Champion Club 1984-85 certificate

Wendy Spicer and Liz Sliwa, first Australian Champions.

Champion club 1986-87

First winning Elite four. Di Whittle, Jo Butler, Andrea Kriz, Kate Elliott, Kate Scanlon (cox)

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