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History of Endeavour Rowing Club NSW

Endeavour Rowing Club

An Historical Study by Peter Bond

2000-2004 the Building Program

Endeavour Plots Their Own Course

During their first year, the club had operated under a set of rules set down by Hunter Valley Grammar School

At the 1999 AGM, the club had resolved to formulate their own rules and Les Geczy had accepted the task of preparing a constitution. This document was adopted at the 2000 AGM, leading to incorporation with the Department of Fair Trading in July.

Land Secured

The need for a boatshed of their own was strongly felt, resulting in a proposal to purchase land adjacent to the HVGS site from the neighbouring farmer, although the $25,000 price tag was an obstacle. The financial problem was overcome with Hunter Valley Grammar School agreeing to purchase the land and to lease it to Endeavour with an option to buy within 12 years. The sale was completed in January 2001 and a lease between HVGS and Endeavour Rowing Club was signed in March, giving the club until 2013 to purchase the land. This arrangement enabled Endeavour to direct all of their immediate fund raising into the erection of a boat shed. 

Third Racing Season

With their own boat trailer available, Endeavour was able to attend regattas independently of HVGS. The club competed at 7 CDRA and 3 NSWRA regattas hosted by Central Districts clubs as well as the NSW Championships and the State Masters Championships averaging one win per regatta. Notable achievements were made by Digby Rayward with 5 local wins plus a silver and a bronze at the Masters Championships and the crew of Jenny Geczy, Marilyn Hyde, Jill Carlstrom and Bev Holden who won a bronze medal in WMD4x at the Masters Championships. Endeavour Rowing Club was starting to be noticed in masters competition.

School Rowing Program

In February 2000, negotiations were conducted between Endeavour Rowing Club and Maitland Grossman High School (previously Maitland Girls High) for a school rowing program during the once-a-week school sport session. The development of such a program was seen as desirable by the club with the potential to provide a steady stream of junior members. The school program got under way in Term 4 with 15 students attending on Tuesday afternoons under the coaching of Margaret Mackenzie, a former Australian rowing champion and a manager in Ausrowtec’s boatbuilding factory at Heatherbrae with assistance from Marilyn Hyde.


Having secured the land, plans were underway for a 12m x 18m shed with eaves at 6m, tall enough to allow for a future mezzanine floor. Club president Clive Carlstrom put together a submission to the Department of Sport and Recreation [Sport & Rec] that secured a grant of $10,000 in December 2000. In the first half of 2001, the boat shed was erected by ‘Drayton Construction’ for a total cost of $22,300. The club’s boats were transferred from the HVGS shed into the Endeavour shed in July 2001.

Newcastle University

Since 1964, Newcastle University Boat Club [NUBC] had operated from the old Hunter River Steamship Company warehouse in King St Raymond Terrace. The building had been erected in the 1800s and by the turn of the twenty first century its dilapidated condition was deemed unsafe for use. The university was looking for new premises and negotiations began with Endeavour Rowing Club in March 2001 while the Endeavour shed at Berry Park was under construction. The Newcastle University Sports Union [NUSport] accepted Endeavour’s offer of 5 boat racks plus space for a coaching boat in the new shed with the right to conduct a regatta for a one year lease plus a share of site expenses. The university’s boats were moved into the Endeavour shed in August 2001. In July 2002, the lease was extended over a second year. 


With space now available to expand their fleet, the club ordered their first new boat, a Ted Hale coxed quad which was half funded from private donations. The boat was ready to race in October 2001 and was christened ‘Endeavour’ in the following April. 

‘Endeavour’ christened by Ian King in front of the recently completed Boat shed April 2002

With the boats having been successfully housed, plans proceeded for the rowers’ amenities block incorporating showers and toilets. A Sport and Rec grant of $9798 enabled the work to begin in January 2002 to be completed in time for the following regatta season.

Fourth Racing Season

After the first regatta of the 2001/2002 season was cancelled due to wind, racing got under way in October at the rowing events of the Australian Masters Games on Lake Macquarie with Endeavour getting a row-over gold medal in MMC2x. Following this, Endeavour rowers competed at 9 CDRA regattas for 20 wins, and 5 regattas conducted by the NSWRA with 2 first places. Twenty one Endeavour members shared the medals with Jill Carlstrom the most successful master on 6 wins, the same number of first placings as Endeavour’s first victorious junior competitor Kathryn Thomson.

Changes in Personnel

In mid-2002, the Tuesday afternoon exercise of coaching during school sport sessions passed from Margaret Mackenzie to the team of Marilyn Hyde, Jill Carlstrom and Allen Atkins. The club had seen some benefit from this program with a few of the students joining the club’s racing squad. 

After four years at the helm, Clive Carlstrom stood down from the position of president at the 2002 AGM with Les Geczy taking on the role.

Fifth Racing Season

For the 2002/2003 regatta season Endeavour Rowing Club took on the hosting of three extra events at Berry Park in addition to their February CDRA regatta. The first was the inaugural Head-of-the-Hunter, a 45 kilometre marathon from Newcastle to Berry Park in July, jointly hosted by Newcastle Rowing Club, Newcastle University Boat Club and Endeavour Rowing Club. The second was Endeavour Rowing Club’s two day Henley-on-Hunter regatta in September, conducted as a warm up for competitors attending the World Masters Games in Ballarat 3 weeks later. A squad of Endeavor rowers travelled to Ballarat in October to compete in “trying Arctic conditions” for 2 seconds and a third in divisions of mixed events.  The third regatta was the rowing component of the Trans Tasman Games in March, hosted jointly with HVGS. Entries at this regatta were disappointing with the only international competitors being a husband and wife from the USA. Endeavour had 4 wins at the games with Jill Carlstrom featuring in 3 of them.

Maitland Mercury report following the World Masters Games in Ballarat October 2002

In the regular regatta season, Endeavour attended 18 regattas for a total of 36 wins. The standout competitor was Kathryn Thomson who became the first Endeavour rower to be champion single sculler of CDRA by winning ChW1x at both the Sprint regatta and the CDRA Championships. Katherine also won a bronze medal in WU19 1x at the NSW Sprint Championships. At the NSW Masters championships, Endeavour won 2 silvers and a bronze. 

In April, Maitland Grossmann High School had their first competitor at the Combined High Schools Championships (CHS) with Tiffany Kiem second in her heat of WU16 1x although she did not feature in the final.

Land Ownership

Before the first year of their lease had expired, NUSport had been in discussion with the club about a long term lease. A proposal was developed in which Endeavour Rowing Club would manage the building of ‘the NUSport Pavilion and Boat Shed’ with the university covering all expenses associated with the construction and paying the club a management fee. In March 2003, Endeavour negotiated to buy additional land for $8,000 on which the university shed could be built. An agreement was made with NUSport to pay an upfront settlement of the rent in full for their 50 year lease. This advance payment enabled Endeavour to purchase the additional land and to buy out the lease of their original land from HVGS in November 2003. With a combined land holding of 7588m2, Endeavour Rowing Club was “now a member of the landed gentry”.

Sixth Racing Season – First State and National Masters Gold Medals – First State Masters Representative

Endeavour Rowing Club attended 16 regattas in the 2003/2004 regatta season for 36 wins of which Maitland Grossmann student Tiffany Kiem gained 13. The most significant results were gained at the 2 masters championships with Robert Hodgson and Digby Rayward earning the club’s first state masters championship with gold in MMF2x while Julie Tilse was the first to win an Australian masters championship with gold in a composite WMC2-. These were backed up with 4 silver and 4 bronze over the 2 masters championship regattas. Julie Tilse also became Endeavour’s first state masters representative when she was selected in the Interstate Womens Eight for the 2004 Australian Masters Championships although the crew was unplaced.

Robert Hodgson and Digby Rayward Endeavour’s first State champions
Julie Tilse - Endeavour’s first National champion and first State representative

University Boat Shed

Work on the university project got under way in December 2003 and was completed in March 2004. NUBC moved their boats from the Endeavour shed into the ‘NUSport Pavilion and Boat Shed’ in April. A 50 year lease between NUSport and Endeavour Rowing Club commenced two days later to terminate in 2054. Although the rent had been fully paid up, the university retained an ongoing commitment to an annual management fee plus a half share of all site costs.

The inflow of cash from the management fees for the university construction enabled the club to purchase a tinnie and a second hand motor which arrived in April, as well as two rowing boats which were purchased from the Victorian Institute of Sport.

With heavyweight rowers well catered for by the 2 near-new VIS boats, in early 2004, the club took advantage of the Rowing Equipment Loans Scheme set up by the NSW Rowing Association to have a lightweight quad built by Ausrowtec. The loan for this boat was paid off in August 2006. 

A significant event at the 2004 AGM was the recognition of Clive Carlstrom’s outstanding contributions to the club with the unanimous award of honorary life membership. 

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