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australian rowers profiles and history

Stephen R Bennett

Monash University Rowing Club (VIC)

Stephen learned his rowing at Wesley College, Melbourne where he raced in their first eight in both 1964 and 1965. He stroked the winning crew in 1965.

Wesley College's winning First VIII in 1965 with Stephen in stroke seat

Stephen then studied Arts at Monash University and in an interview for The Age newspaper with Melissa Singer on 28th June 2024, he admitted that he was no academic. He summed up his time at Monash as follows: “I qualified in rowing boats.” In the same article, he advised that his interest in rowing was first sparked by his sister and Country Road co-founder Jane Parker, who took him to the Head of the River regatta in 1958. 

Whilst Stephen did not pursue his rowing after Monash University, he did maintain his interest in the sport. As the owner and founder of the highly fashionable clothing brand 'Country Road', he fitted out the 1990 Australian rowing team in kit which was the envy of all. He also sponsored Rowing Australia for a couple of years. 

In this article mentioned above, Singer added: Bennett says the concept of a crew always stuck with him. "The great thing about rowing is you can’t stop, you can’t lean against the goalposts. You have to have people in the boat who are with you.”

1990 Australian team members Anna McFarlane and Samantha Stewart in the Country Road tracksuit

Stephen presenting medals at 1991 National Championships in Adelaide to Jenny Luff

However it was not his rowing that Stephen attained great fame. It was his fashion endeavours, founding and developing the fashion clothing brand 'Country Road'. In the article referred to above, Singer wrote: The catalyst for our lunch is the 50th anniversary of clothing and lifestyle brand Country Road, which Bennett founded in 1974 using a $20,000 loan from his former father-in-law to “make a few shirts”. In reality, what emerged was an empire spanning women’s and menswear, homewares, and, in more recent times, luxury pet accessories. Some of his designs, including the brand’s signature logo tote, have become cult items, carried by everyone from teenagers to celebrities such as Australian actor Jacob Elordi.

Known key rowing races

1964 - APS Head of the River (Wesley College) First VIII, four seat - Eighth

1965 - APS Head of the River (Wesley College) First VIII, stroke - First

1966 - Australian University Championships (Monash University), Men's VIII, stroke - unplaced

Andrew Guerin
June 2024


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