Scroll To Top
australian rowers profiles and history

John Campbell

Colleagues Rowing Club (NSW)

The following is an extract from an April 2009 publication written by crew member Ian Stewart on the 50th anniversary of their Head of the River win in 1959.

John has certainly led a full and very varied life! To begin with in 1958 that intrepid music invigilator, Harry Billington, organized for Sydney Boys’ High  & Sydney Girls’ High to stage Smetana’s operetta “The Bartered Bride”. John sang in a lead support role in this production, cast as Micha. 

Following his successful schoolboy rowing career, John turned his attention to higher levels of oarsmanship. At first he joined the Colleagues Rowing Club and rowed in the club’s Senior Eight which won the 1961 State Championship. From this crew, John and four other ex–SHS rowers (Peter Shenstone, Bob Sample, John and Stuart McGill) were selected in the State Eight to contest the Kings Cup. This race, held in Adelaide in May, was won by the Victorian crew, with NSW 2/3 of a length astern in second place.

In 1962, John, still with the Colleagues club, was once again selected in the State Eight for the King’s Cup. Neil Smith and cox, Ken Lloyd, were the other SHS representatives in that crew. The race, held on Lake Wendouree, was won again by Victoria, with NSW fourth.

For the 62/63 season John transferred from Colleagues to Sydney Rowing Club and, in a four coxed by SHS old boy Alan Grover, won the State title.

The 63/64 season was one of excitement, with Olympic selection very much on the agenda. The Sydney Rowing club Eight, with Peter Wood (son of Merv), cox, Al Grover and John representing the SHS contingent, won the State title. Four of these rowers, including John, were selected to row in the King’s Cup crew. The regatta, held on the Nepean, was again won by the Victorians with NSW second.

At the Australian National Championships, held on the newly commissioned Lake Burley Griffin course from 30 April to 2 May, the Sydney Rowing Club coxed four of Duval, bow, Allen, Campbell and Herford, stroke and Grover, cox won Olympic selection by defeating the other half of the NSW Eight by a length.

At Tokyo the Four finished fourth in its heat, third in the repechage and fourth in the ‘little final’. In 1965 an Eight consisting of the winning NSW King’s Cup crew, with Campbell and Ranch as replacements, went to New Zealand for a series of races.

1964 Olympic Four with John in three seat

John’s move to Queensland in 1966 led him to link with the University of Queensland and the Anglican boys’ school, Churchie. He rowed and coached with the University from ‘68  to ‘70 and then coached the school crew in 1983. John’s last rowing triumph was to being a winning crew in the 1996 Brisbane corporate Rowing Challenge.

The non-sporting side of his life has been almost kaleidoscopic. John started in sales with David Jones in Sydney in 1960, moving in 1961 to a Martin Place insurance broker as a clerk. By 1966 he had impressed the boss enough to be made manager, in Brisbane, of the broker’s new interstate branch. This career path continued to bear fruit and John was admitted as a Fellow of the Corporation of Insurance Brokers Australia in 1977. In 1986 he was appointed as consultant to the Small Business Development Corporation and then, in 1988, he set up his own general insurance broking business in Brisbane. This was followed by a merger with an accounting firm in 1990 to create a complete financial services group.

In 1992, as a hobby, John and partner Glenys set up All Star Tours. This began with five-star intra and interstate coach tours but soon expanded into tours to Norfolk Island & New Zealand, Greek Islands & Turkey, and round-the-world generally.

With retirement in mind, John sold the insurance broking business in 2004 and wound up the tours business in 2005.  Fully cashed up by 2006, John intends to “live the life of Riley” with much travel  planned over the next few years.

John has experienced an interesting personal life. Married first in 1966, and then becoming the father of Jemma in 1969. he was divorced in 1973. Remarriage occurred—in Las Vegas—in 1980. Fourteen years later he became a single man again. Grandchildren Jessica (1998) and Christopher (1999) have brought him much joy.

Ian Stewart
April 2009

Website by Hope Stewart—Website Design & Management