Monday, 20 March 2017
Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan—Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services) (10:46): The Toowong Rowing Club has a race-winning octogenarian eight. For them, rowing never gets old. The club, with an active membership of more than 250 rowers, has, however, seen its fair share of ups and downs throughout its 128-year history. It was established originally in 1889, downstream from its current location, and has overcome many a flood that has washed it away.
Some will remember the Toowong Rowing Club when it was located near the aptly named Regatta Hotel. The most notable change overcome by the club, still a vivid memory for many members, was the 1974 floods. Those floods washed the Regatta clubhouse away. However, a group of visionary members, including Cal Malouf, the late Jim Downie, Jack Hutchinson and Russell Kerrison, turned this challenge into an opportunity. Starting from scratch, this awesome foursome went about funding, designing and building the modern rowing club we now know, located at a leafy site near the University of Queensland on the banks of the Brisbane River. The club pays homage to the gentlemen who provided major financial assistance for the re-establishment through the Malouf and Hutchinson rooms and Silvio's Bar, named after Silvio Pradella. For a club that literally had only a few boats left in its sheds, the membership proved strong and rallied to fundraise in order to pay for the new site—and these were the days long before government grants were so readily available. Club president Kerry O'Rourke is justifiably proud of the prestigious status this Brisbane icon maintains. In 2016 the Toowong Rowing Club attained a national rating as No. 1 in masters rowers and No. 2 in high performance.
Gone are the days of rowing being considered an exclusive recreational activity of elite private schools and wealthy individuals. The Toowong Rowing Club welcomes all—young and old, men and women. It has members of all ages and walks of life. Their stories and memories from years past give the club a unique heartbeat. The clubhouse may be relatively new in comparison with the club's existence, but 128 years of spirit is noticeable in this well-defined community of rowers.
Whether you are eight or 80, rowing is a sport of mateship and fitness. It is about those very early morning starts but also those late-night finishes catching up with old friends. I expect that in 80 years time many more generations will have enjoyed the Toowong Rowing Club and will look back at the foundations of Brisbane's rowing scene with pride. Old rowers never die; they just keep going backwards.
636 Moggill Road
Chapel Hill Q 4069
Ph: 07 3378 1599
Fax: 07 3378 1399
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