1974 The adventure begins

The Annual Report this year was a combined one presented to the members of Ballarat City and Begonia City at the AGM in September. Ralph Murphy was returned as president this season and Rob McGuire continued, as secretary. Mr. Bob Lawrie entered his twenty-fifth year as treasurer. Bill Davies became Captain and Danny Elliott was Vice-Captain. Begonia City Ladies again had their own committee with Margaret Young, Captain; Mary Young, vice-captain and Mary Gallagher elected as secretary. The executive held 16 meetings this year and only Rob McGuire the secretary and Captain, Danny Elliott attending all 16. Ted Edwards was still attending meetings and managed to be at over half of them. Otto Hauser, although not attending meetings was still a regular at the shed where he practically “owned” the work bench!

On Open Day there was again a large attendance of members and usual racing was held followed by the christening of the new boat and trailer. The four was christened the GRAEME ANGOW and the boat trailer the ROBERT ANGOW in appreciation and recognition of all that these two gentlemen had contributed to the Club. The winning crews on Open Day were for the scratch fours: – A. Dixon, P. Moon, J. Fox and N. Doolan. The mixed fours were won by D. Calvert, J. Burzacott, Mary Young and Mary Gallagher. A smorgasbord dinner at the Eureka Hotel was enjoyed after the formalities concluded. The club had wins in Novice pairs and sculls at the BRA Open Day. The Lightweight maiden four of Ron Taylor, Paul Duggan, Michael Salter and Danny Elliott had three wins at Dimboola, Horsham and Mercantile Regattas. Then the Novice four had two wins at Albert Park and Ballarat. This crew comprised Ron Young, Norm Young, Wayne Lyle and N. Trevena. The season finished off with two Novice pairs wins by the crew of Danny Elliott and Michael Salter at Warrnambool and VRA and a Novice eight at Mildura. Jan Falla, Margaret Young and Danny Elliott organised a Rowathon and raised  several hundred dollars.

Lightweight Maiden four,1975. Paul Duggan, Mark Donohue, Danny Elliott, Ron Taylor with the new racing four, THE ALBIE McGUIRE

The club added a second hand racing four from St. Patrick’s College, the O’MALLEY to the fleet this year giving us two racing fours that were competitive with the best available at the time. The club also purchased eight new oars and six second-hand oars. The aging fleet was still being kept in good condition and if anything thing did need repairing the team of Graeme Angow, Albie McGuire and Danny Elliott, still led by the redoubtable Otto Hauser, would put it right.

At the National Championships held in April on the Lake,Captain Danny Elliott was given the job of manning a gate in a small side street that had no view of the racing at all and that very few people came. Being conscientious he felt obliged to perform the task but a note he wrote in the back of his program reveals his feelings. To add insult to injury a former member came into the shed while he was on gate duty and loaned the best racing four in the shed to some random crew. When Danny protested that he had no right to loan club boats, that was the Captain’s job, he complained that he couldn’t find Danny and that Danny was never at the shed to ask! The answer was quite simple-you can’t be in two places at once. The club had only one new racing boat, a Sykes wooden four and committee had decided that under no circumstances was it to be loaned to anyone. It is amazing the number of people over the years who walk into the shed, think they have the right to use whatever equipment they want and whenever they want it! It is a credit to Danny’s commitment to doing the right thing and his sense of duty, that he fronted up the next day and did it all again.

At the end of 1974 which was the start of the 1974-75 season I started my adventure with rowing. I was in Year 11 at Loreto College and our forward thinking Physics teacher, Russell Foley somehow convinced St. Patrick’s College to loan us their barge, an ungainly rectangular affair with room for six rowers and a coach. It was the rowing equivalent of a Sherman tank! We were permitted to use it at 6am in the morning in winter in Ballarat. It was a baptism of fire and ice! Some mornings you couldn’t see the jetty until you were about a meter away from it. We, rather slim and light young ladies had to haul the heavy barge from its resting place on tires in the shed and somehow launch it on the lake and then reverse the process coming back in. But despite the impossibly heavy barge and the freezing mornings and the difficulty in getting one rower to follow another and both sides rowing together, we loved it! Later in the year a couple of friends went over and joined Begonia City and started training with coach Danny Elliott. One of the girls dropped out and a friend who lived near me asked if I’d like to come around and fill in. The rest, as they say, is history.

This is me at my very first regatta in Geelong with my friend Gracie. We had to cut out and sew on the white stars on maroon t-shirts and we had white football shorts and footy socks to row in. We are both holding leather dog collars (Gracie has hers around her neck). The four we rowed in had clogs, not proper shoes and they were meant for much bigger feet. To keep our feet in the foot stretcher , we used to put the leather dog collars as straps around our feet! I don’t think we rowed particularly well, and didn’t come anywhere at all but it was still pretty thrilling to now answer the question “What sport do you play?” with the answer “Rowing!”

KING’s CUP REGATTA 11th and 13th APRIL


The National Championships were again held on the Lake and for the first time they were held during the Easter break. As members of the Ballarat Rowing Association who were running the regatta, many club members were involved in assisting with all manner of jobs like selling programs, manning gates, boat-holding etc.

Dear Sir,I wish to complain of the lack of gatekeepers, as at this juncture of the program I haven’t had my lunch, and most importantly, the toilet is beyond my reach. I have been besieged by wind, rain and leaves. Some people have also passed this point. The gate has collapsed 3 times, my shoes twice and the money bag once. This has been a most disappointing day, except for the three women who said I was very nice for letting them in for nothing. Well, what will be done? S.F.A. or what? Signed Disapointment (sic) P.S. I can’t see a bloody thing!

This note was written on the margin of the program at about 3pm. On the 15th of April, the first day of the National Championships on Lake Wendouree. It is autumn in Ballarat and the leaves on the trees around the Lake and up and down Sturt Street are losing their leaves. The weather is changeable. For a young, enthusiastic rower it was a complete waste of time standing on a small side street from 10.00 am in the morning until late in the afternoon. Nobody came to check and nobody came to take over. They did bring some sandwiches for his lunch eventually.

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