2007 Where has all the water gone!

For the first season in 137 years history we did not enter or win a race at a regatta. We could not even train as the Lake completely dried up in December 2006 and remained totally dry until May 2007. Our only form of exercise on the Lake were extensive walks up and down the 2000m course and on just about every part of the lake bed! In fact we should have changed our name to the Ballarat City Walking Club as small groups of members set off regularly from early December 2006 to walk the course! There has been some water in the Lake since then, but just big puddles not enough for rowing boats. Some members did take day trips to Geelong for a row but the time taken in loading and unloading the trailer and travelling hardly made it worthwhile for such a short row. Tim Wise can lay claim to the only person to have taken a boat the rowing course for 2007 and probably the only person to put a boat anywhere on the Lake this year. He paddled and pushed his sea kayak through the mudflats and obtained a decent depth of water for about 250 m on the course just along from the 500m mark in about July. All the earthworks on the Lake bed have really resulted in nothing except turning over the mud and the commissioning of the Paul’s Wetland drain has still not delivered water in sufficient quantities to restore our drought ravaged “playing field.” Nor have we, or any of the other clubs around the Lake, been offered or afforded any support or assistance at any level, not even a reduction in Council rates and charges. There were grants and financial assistance available for drought affected sports who had ovals or sports grounds that they trained on. They still had limited access to dry ovals for training and playing while the rowers on the lake had nothing and no access to grants or funding to provide alternatives.

While this has obviously had a negative impact on the club in terms of training, racing and recruitment, there have also been some positives. The hardworking band of Master’s rowers, led by Wayne Lyle, Barry Lyle and Norm Young, have completed the re-decking and replacing of posts, joists and bearers of the jetty. The galvanized metal support structure made by Wayne and Barry to replace the decayed wooden structure, is a work of art and is made to last. If the shed was to fall down or be completely destroyed the only thing that would survive would be Wayne and Barry’s galvanized masterpiece. This also tied the jetty back to the steel structure of the shed which wasn’t done when the shed was built in 1956. Consequently with the lake bed drying out and the concrete piers shifting the balcony, which rested on the jetty only, was threatening to pull away from the shed. Wayne and Barry’s very timely engineering averted this disaster. The jetty has never looked so good or been so structurally sound. Much work was also put in reinforcing and renovating the concrete piers under the shed. Many old posts that were no longer supporting anything were removed by Jeff Hooper. It is worth mentioning because it was just a big a task but before we could replace the decking, first we had to pull it all up, and there was a lot to pull up. Then we had to work out how to dispose of it and so many ute loads were taken away. Much of the wood was not salvageable and it was also full of nails so it was a tricky job pulling it up, stacking it, then loading it and taking it away!

We  applied for three grants and received funding for one major project this year and we held one major fundraiser. Kate Elliott was successful in obtaining a Local History Grant for writing the history of Ballarat Regatta, Australia’s Inland Henley. She is managed the project and hoped to have the book to publication by the end of 2008 or early 2009. It was timely to record this history as it had now been 5 years since Ballarat Regatta was held on the Lake. This was the biggest interruption to the annual competition in its 140 year history. Apart from during the war years of WW1 and WW2, Ballarat Regatta had always been held on Lake Wendouree except for 1968 when again low water levels meant it moved for one year to Lake Burrumbeet.

Kate Elliott being presented with a certificate for the grant to write the history of Ballarat Regatta from Lynn Kosky.

Our main fundraiser, Eddie Sullivan, decided to again run his Gourmet Chicken Burger stand at Springfest and with the donation of many items and was successful in raising $800. Baker’s Delight donated all of the bread rolls. The Australia Day Fireworks did go ahead this year despite the lack of water in the lake. We did not formally organise anything this year as the lack of water meant that our seats while still ringside lacked any of the reflections that made the usual display so atmospheric. Instead members, families and friend attended, bought their own tea and enjoyed the spectacle. Colin Angow hurriedly set up a table in the foyer and sold his “glo sticks”. He sold an amazing $96 worth in 15 minutes! We also held a BBQ on the jetty prior to Christmas 2006. Many members made the most of an enjoyable evening on the jetty and we took the opportunity to take photos of the foundations of the original Ballarat City shed which had been exposed by the evaporating water. Thanks to Rob Wyatt who took some great photos and only stepped in one really muddy spot! Our BBQ chefs extraordinaire, aka Norm and Ron, had perfected the art of the BBQ and again supplied a delicious treat for members.

Bernie and Martin Wise fossick on the dry lake bed just past the 1000 metre mark.

Since there was no water to train on there was nothing we could do except ergo. Most of the club would not mind if they never saw another ergo in their lives. About two excursions to the Barwon were held and those that went had a very pleasant time rowing in lovely conditions. But they were all too few and all too brief.

Lake Physiotherapy had now been our tenant for three years and continue to be our main source of revenue and excellent tenants. Club members continued to participate in a variety of classes. A new fire hose and reel and fire extinguisher were purchased and installed upstairs for Lake Pilates.

As was mentioned before the sterling efforts of the team under the guidance of Lyle, Lyle and Young achieved the unbelievable in completing the re-decking and refurbishing of the entire jetty that was first started in 1984!!!! Boards were also nailed along the lower side of the shed as the lowering water levels made access under the shed a security risk as people could access under the shed via the totally dry lake bed. The concrete piers under the shed were de-rusted and then painted with rust proofing and concrete patches applied were necessary. Barry Lyle made and installed a state of the art gully trap under the tap inside the shed. Colin Angow sourced and replaced spouting on the north side of the shed.

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