The Supporters, Ballarat Regatta 1908. The ladies obviously did take to the water at Ballarat Regatta if only to get a closer look at the racing. Despite their long skirts, hats and parasols, they obviously could and did get into rowing boats and know how to row as there is not a male in sight and no room for anyone else in the boat!

1903-04 a grand water carnival was held to raise funds for local charities. The clubs had decorated boat competition and thanks to the efforts of members and lady friends Ballarat City secured first prize in both the decorated four and decorated eight categories! The decorated boats were an important feature of the Ballarat Regatta in the early 1900’s and gave the wider population a chance to be involved in one of the biggest sporting and social events held in Ballarat. Ballarat Regatta was held annually in late February or early March with the first recorded Ballarat and District Regatta held in 1862 at Burrumbeet. The regatta moved onto Lake Wendouree in 1864 and was held continuously except during WW 1 and WW 2 right up until the millennium drought saw the final traditional Ballarat Regatta in 2002.

A photograph of club members in 1911 shows again not one female in sight, even though there are some children and . It was probably not until the 1920’s that women began again to have considerable impact on the club. Mrs.Ure Taylor of the Lake View Hotel supported the club giving donations, hosting dinners and presenting trophies for club members. A Social Committee was formed at this time also and although club members were the office bearers there were also women involved on sub-committees. This was the time when the club began to hold dances. These were not only fundraising opportunities but became a social institution in Ballarat. The club held four dances in 1924 at the City Hall and you can be sure that the women were instrumental in making them a success.

In 1927 a Ladies Euchre Committee was formed for the purpose of fundraising. It was composed chiefly of elderly lady supporters of the club who meet regularly at the club to play cards. They were successful in raising sufficient funds to purchase a new set of oars for the club after one year of operation. The Ladies Social committee in 1928 held weekly dances at the City Fire Brigade Hall and raised 74 pounds-the equivalent of $7400. In 1930 the Ladies Committee headed by Mesdames Morris, Beattie, Browne and Bates managed to double the amount in the bank for the Building Appeal. It was noted that Miss Jean Murray made a considerable individual effort as did Mr. Ray Browne.

In 1928 at Ballarat Regatta, the first organized women’s rowing event took place on the Lake. Five women’s crews attended from Melbourne and put on a display of rowing. Local aficionados were suitably impressed by the efforts of the fairer sex. But not impressed enough to let their women become involved in such a manly sport! Rowing had been seen throughout history as the ultimate of manly sports and given Ballarat’s very male dominated beginnings and the fact that so many clubs and institutions were founded by men, the time was still not right for Ballarat women to take their rightful place –in the boat!

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