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History of Newcastle Rowing Club

Part 4 -The Modern Era, 1992 - (continued)

Part 4 pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Fund Raising and Socials

NRC has, over the years, held a wide variety of social and fund­raising functions. In seeking to raise funds NRC applies two objectives. The first is that social occasions need not make a profit: if they do it's great; but a loss should be avoided. The second is that fund raisers actually make a profit. 

Fund raising

Fund raising is a constant preoccupation for sporting clubs everywhere. NRC is no exception. In fact, it can be fairly said that it is more so for a fledgeling rowing club. Obviously the acquisition of boats and oars, all of which are very expensive, are essential. Thereafter the fleet must be continually upgraded and expanded in response to growth. Maintenance is not only costly, it is always urgent. As all this equipment has to be stored somewhere a boat shed is necessary so money has to be squirrelled away for the purpose. 

The first fund raising activity occurred in June 1993 following a successful tender with Telecom to distribute five thousand telephone directories throughout Sandgate. Completed within the specified period of ten days the task raised almost $1800. Although an onerous commitment it was considered so worthwhile that similar contracts were undertaken in the following two years. They raised about $2100 and $1100 respectively. 

If distribution of telephone books was somewhat unusual, demolition of the first boat shed to recover the aluminium for scrap, er, recycling (and more importantly for sale) is surely unprecedented. It raised about $1000. 

Garage sales were held in late 1993 and early 1994, the latter raising $200. In preparation for another garage sale early in 1996, it was suggested that it would be a useful way of disposing of all those unwanted Christmas gifts. (In preference to just giving them to someone else the next year?) 

The insatiable demand of Treasurers everywhere for MORE means that the club has adopted some of the traditional fund raising measures. Athough individually some only make a modest return, their cumulatively contribution is valuable. Raffles are an oldie but continue to be a nice little earner, each raising somewhere between $150 and $800. They have taken place at AGMs, regattas, social occasions and the like. In fact whenever two or more people get together. The most successful ever conducted was one held in conjunction with a trivia night in 2000. The much sought-after prize was an original oil painting of a shipping scene on Newcastle Harbour that was painted and donated by Jim Gardner, the husband of one of our members. Regatta food stalls have been useful with the best returning around $1400. 

Although the effort involved is horrendous for the organisers, the club's two Trivia (quiz) nights have been highly successful. One in 1998 raised $3084. The second, $4000 (in 2000). Film nights have been another reliable stand-by. Five have been held to date raising between $240 (1999) and $1700 (in 2001). 

A particularly lucrative venture in 2005 raised the question as to why we had not sought to exploit the demands of wine connoisseurs (as they see themselves) sooner. The labelling and sale of 'club' wine originating from the "Blackmore Estate" near Gloucester raised $3500. That success inevitably led to a second release during an end­of-year Wine and Pizza night held in December 2006. The bargains on offer were a Chardonnay and a Shiraz. Those who missed out will be disappointed to learn that they were matured in French and American oak casks at boutique (as opposed to ordinary) Hunter Valley wineries. The shiraz had a "lovely rich blackberry and spice on the nose and palate and the chardonnay, vanilla and peach". Makes you wonder if they used grapes. 

Other boosts to our finances come from entertainment books, ten-pin bowling and a shoe party (whatever they might be) which usually realise between $150 and $200. Occasional chocolate sales usually brought in about the same except for one in 2005 which raised over $1000 (not to mention the cholesterol level of half of Newcastle) following an aggressive marketing campaign. Australian Rowing calendars were sold in 1996 with a portion retained by the club. To demonstrate that any amount raised, no matter how small, is gratefully accepted, an Olympics party in 1996 raised $49.15 and a 'breakfast' in 1996, details of which have been lost in the mists of tim􀀳 returned a windfall of $25.55. It's all grist for the mill. 

Organisation on behalf of the Newcastle Maritime Museum of dragon boat races for the annual Maritime Festival was fun for members of the public who participated and financially beneficial for the club. Money raised amounted to $2995 (1997), $800 (1998) $775 (1999) and over $5000 (2000). To avoid the inevitable question, this involvement ended in 2000 with the formation of the Newcastle and Hunter Dragon Boat Club by Lynn Flanagan, a former secretary of NRC. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of our most important income streams comes from what we do best: teaching people to row. Introductory rowing classes and school rowing programs earn the club thousands of dollars each year. Income from these sources rose from $232 in 1992-93, exceeded $1000 in 1997-98, passed $3000 in 2000-01 and reached $5780 in 2004-05. Whilst the income is impressive, the essential purpose is to introduce new members. 

Over the years NRC has suffered a loss hosting its annual regattas without significant sponsorship. Losses of up to $760 were recorded for the 1995, 1997, 1998 and 1999 regattas. Our inaugural regatta in 1994 has been the only one to benefit from a naming rights sponsor, the locally based health fund, NIB. Otherwise, the approach taken since 2000 has been to attract smaller sponsors -typically $100 for naming rights to a single event -to ensure that each regatta is profitable. The importance to the club of this source of funding is demonstrated by the 2004, 2005 and 2006 regattas, profits for which each exceeded $3500. In fact, the 2004 result could only be described as spectacular with sponsorship totalling $4700 based on $2200 in sponsorship raised by one member, Sandra Black. 

A particularly successful fund raiser was a dinner and auction of various exotic wines and sporting memorabilia held at the home of club member Kate Harrington in 2000. It raised upwards of $7000. Many of the young male guests were disappointed to learn that a good looking rower attired in club gear in a single scull in the backyard pool turned out to be a lifelike model. Later, they were able to attribute their misplaced excitement to poor outdoor lighting. 

The ingenuity of club members in finding innovative ways to raise funds was demonstrated in June 2007 following the fierce storm that resulted in the club having to vacate the shed on Throsby Wharf. Incidental damage included a bulk carrier being driven on to Nobbys Beach. Apart from the stranded vessel becoming an enormously popular tourist attraction, the city was alive with speculation as to whether it would ever be refloated and if so, how. The club's suggestion, naturally, was to use oars. Postcards promoting the notion were quickly designed and produced by Jan Roche. Sales were excellent. 

Aground on Nobbys beach, the Pasha Bulka activates its environmental friendly sweep oars. 

With typical energy, the club hosted the Honeysuckle Throsby Creek Challenge in November 2007. It brought together members of NRC, the Newcastle Hunter Dragon Boat Club and the Throsby Creek community for a 4km walk/run around the creek then dragon boat racing followed by an outdoor breakfast. Favourable comments reinforced the desirability of the club hosting similar activities in the future. Assisted by sponsorship by HOC, the event raised $3,500. As construction of the new boathouse drew nearer, fund raising became more urgent. Bingo nights held at the Carrington Bowling Club (2008 and 2009) attracted large and happy crowds. 

Collections for a book sale in June 2009 filled Margaret Vercoe's garage to overflowing. The first sale raised well in excess of $1000 with plenty of books left over for similar sales later. 


In the 1880's club social life was primarily an annual formal ball. Several concerts utilising the musical talents of club members and their families were also well patronised. In 1880 a row by members for a picnic and games at Fullerton Cove was enjoyed by one and all. 

These days, formal balls are rare although the fundraising potential of concerts featuring the questionable talents of members and their families is limitless. Just think of what people would be prepared to pay to avoid such a function. 

Christmas parties are always well enjoyed. The first was held in 1993 aboard the "Lady Joy". Others were held at the boat shed(s) which were very pleasant venues on a mid-summer's evening. A number of such functions in the early 2000s involved a barbecue at Lowlands Bowling Club that provided a relaxed social mixing of members plus an opportunity to apply the fierce competitive spirit of rowers to the otherwise gentile sport of lawn bowls. 

1996 Christmas party on the wharf in front of the boatshed 

On occasion a New Years Eve party has replaced the Christmas celebrations. The former offers the added attraction of an uninterrupted view of the traditional fireworks display based at Nobbys. 

Anniversaries are another good excuse. The first anniversary was a harbour cruise on the "Lady Joy", the second was celebrated on the South Steyne (an ex-Sydney ferry, by then a floating restaurant then moored near the boatshed), the third was marked by a barbecue on the wharf adjoining the boat shed. 

Third Anniversary celebrations. Wendy Bardakos, Jim Bardakos & Val Kost 

Celebrations for the club's tenth anniversary in 2002 culminated with a dinner at the "Producers Table" in the Honeysuckle Markets. A mounted, 19th century wall map of Newcastle Harbour highlighting points of interest involving NRC since its inception in 1870 was produced for the occasion. It is now on display in the Newcastle Maritime Centre. Special guests included Mr Richard Face, Minister for Racing, Gaming and Hunter Development, the Lord Mayor John Tate and Mrs Tate and Mr Angus Dawson CEO of the HDC. Mr Face spoke of the history of rowing in Newcastle. Mr Angus Dawson reflected on the ten-year partnership between the Corporation and NRC, referring to the club's role in presenting the image of the Honeysuckle development as a desirable living and recreational location. 

At the end of those ten years, the club's fleet had expanded to include a timber eight, two timber tub fours and a timber coxed pair, two timber coxed fours, a coxed/coxless timber quad, two fibreglass fours, one fibreglass quad, four fibreglass pair/doubles, ten fibreglass singles. Each boat has a designated set of oars. The value of the boat fleet had increased to $102,800. By 2009, it had had grown to be worth $180,000. 

Fittingly for an organisation continually on the move, a "New Shed Party" was held at appropriate times to express relief that we still had somewhere to store our boats. Speaking of which, boat naming nights have been the excuse/opportunity to party although striking a fragile boats with a champagne bottle usually makes the boat captain cringe. Almost everyone else agrees that the ritual (tradition or not), is an awful waste of 'good' champagne. That may no longer be an issue as no such function has been held since a boat naming night in 2000 sustained a loss ($90). The alternatives of not getting new boats or not naming them were never seriously considered. On at least one occasion (2001), a social dinner was held for no good reason at all. Many people turned up anyway. End-of-season parties have been held occasionally. 

Another 'recreational' rowing activity that has attracted members from time-to-time has been a Sunday morning row to the windmill at Kooragang for a picnic breakfast before a leisurely return to waste the remainder of the day on home, family or the like. 

A bus tour of Pokolbin in 2004 to enjoy the dubious delights of a champagne house, an Irish pub and at least one vineyard was an enormous success for reasons the participants can't remember. 

Inspired by club stalwart Margaret Vercoe, a "Long Lunch" was thoroughly enjoyed by 100 guests seated along Throsby Wharf overlooking the harbour on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in November 2005. Included was the launching of a 'new' club eight - the "Criterion", the name derived from that of the hotel where the club's formative meeting was held in 1870. 

Growing excitement that the new boatshed was close instigated a 'slab' party (the concrete variety, not the carton of bottled beer version) and mini regatta in late December 2008. It allowed the large number of members and supporters who attended to contemplate the much anticipated completion of the shed and to celebrate pride in the club's resiliance through a particularly difficult period of its history. 

Over the years many members have organised fund raising and social functions that have benefited club members. Any attempt to identify individuals is fraught with the certainty that some will be overlooked or their contribution not properly recognised. With sincere apologies to those who might have been inadvertently overlooked the following have contributed greatly to the success of this club away from any rowing course. Leanne Burns, Liz Trainor, Val Kost, Jennifer Bissett, Phoebe Bissett, James Thomas, Melissa Moore, Anna Ocysek, Janece Vandenberg, Gert Salamon, Glenn Crompton, Teresa Bell, Kellie Peters, Lynn Flanagan, Kris Gardner, Billy Bonevski, Margaret Vercoe, Marian Henderson, Anna Gray, Renee Brighton, Lorraine Cash (earning her the Rowlock Award in 2005), Gary Cash, Lara Jane Cash, Leslie Kibble, Neil Kibble, Stephanie Roche, Jan Roche, Maxine Goss and Rhys Blackmore. Ann Dunning received the Rowlock Award in 2008 for her work with the social committee. 

In anticipation of the eventual move to Carrington, the club began using the Carrington Bowling club in 2007 for committee meetings and various social occasions. Subsequently, several BBQ and bowls afternoons have been held there. The first raised over $3,000. 

Part 4 pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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